Friday, May 28, 2010

Fishin' 2

"Ouch! I think he bit me," I exclaimed pulling my finger from the fish's mouth and examining it.

"I don't think Blue Gill have teeth," Beth consoled me.

"Then he just gummed me," I shot back. "Maybe it was the barb from the hook. Anyway, it hurt."

Last tip, I compared my first fishing expedition with PJ to a salesperson without a follow-up plan. I hadn't read far enough into the DNR beginner fishing guide to know what to do once I caught a fish.

"Are you going to throw it back?" Beth asked.

"Throw it back?" I parroted in surprise. "It's our first catch--ever.
How can I throw back our first catch?"

There was no minimum size on Blue Gill on this lake. So we could keep all six inches.

"It's only three inches." Beth challenged me.

"I'm sure it's just where you're standing," I said. "What do I do to keep him?"

"Ice him or put him on a stringer," Beth instructed from a healthy distance.

"Do you see any ice?" I retorted. "I think we just need to pack up and go to the fish cleaning station."

That was a fiasco. The station was closed. And I had no tools to work with. I scaled the fish with a teaspoon and fillet him with a butter knife. Soon, Beth was breading our catch in Ritz crackers and frying him in a makeshift skillet.

We ended up with less than a tablespoon of fish each.

Sometimes, it's better to throw back the small fish. Just like in sales and marketing. Once in while, as a friend reminded me at lunch yesterday, a small customer can become a big one. (Thanks, Joel!) But you need a fine tuned instinct to pick out the ones that will grow. More often than not, small sales take more time than they're worth.

If you're selling long-term customers or long buying cycle products, it takes some good qualifying questions to decide if you should keep the prospect or throw him back.

I failed the test. Lulled by the excitement of my first catch, I stopped fishing and went home for the day. Had I thrown back my catch and gone back to fishing, I might have caught a bigger one. Or I might have gone home empty handed. But taking the risk can often return a big reward. A lesson I hope I've learned, both as a fisherman and a businessman.

Takeaway: Small sales take as long to process as big ones.
Qualify prospects wisely.