Sales Backfires

On a recent episode of the A&E Television program Hoarders, we meet Kevin, whose Manhattan apartment has become so over-crowded with junk and relics that he now sleeps on a bench in front of his building. Kevin needs to climb into a window from the fire escape to even enter his apartment.

Researchers have studied the psychology behind compulsive hoarding. Although no single motivation explains the behavior, one of the driving forces that I find most interesting -- and most relevant to the business world -- is the notion of the catastrophic fantasy. Some paranoid part of our brain pictures an apocalypse. And so to prepare for the coming disaster, we hoard. It’s a just-in-case rationale our brain invents to protect us from the abstract unknown. The hoarded things become a kind of security blanket.  

Fear drives hoarding. And the same fear that underlies the hoarder’s urge to keep old magazines or feral cats also drives sales people to hoard poor prospects.

Do you have a closet full of garbage leads? A CRM database full of prospects that are the equivalent of nine-day old Chinese food in the back of your refrigerator?

Throw them out. Clean your pipeline of the low-quality leads and you might realize you have no good prospects. Or only a few. If you have none, work to get your first one. If you have a few, start serving those prospects now, for free. If you have something of value to offer, then your best marketing ROI will come from giving it away to your few highest value prospects.

And if you have nothing of value to offer your best prospects, then sales isn’t your problem. Focus on finding or creating something of truly distinctive value.

Take a hard look at your pipeline of sales leads and ask yourself: Am I a hoarder?