If you can’t tie a knot, tie a lot

I recently started a new workout routine for the summer. I do cardio for 5 miles each day. If I am focused and keep a high elevation and resistance on the treadmill I can do 5 miles in less than an hour and keep my heart rate up to get a good workout. However, if I am distracted and watching TV or sending emails intermittently it takes me much longer to do my 5 miles and I might not even get my heart rate above 150 bpm.

I was discussing the variety of prospecting techniques I see my reps doing with my brother this week. Some reps spend time upfront to craft the perfect custom message to a select number of  targets, while others make a generic template and blast it to as many people as possible. My brother replied in response to this discussion:

If you can’t tie a knot, tie a lot.

My brother has never been in sales, he spent most of his life around boats and rowing. I thought this was incredibly insightful whether he meant it to be or not for what I was seeing with my work out, and my sales prospecting.

I don’t really have the knowledge or training to tie a good nautical knot. I’m certain that I would just tie a bunch of regular knots and hope the boat stayed put, using a lot more rope, a lot more time, and still no confidence in the effectiveness of what I’ve done. Whereas my brother, who has the know-how and experience to tie a strong knot, would just need to tie one good knot and move on to a day at the beach.

This made me think about how we prospect to our target audience in sales. A prospecting technique I often see new reps trying, and I did myself, is to build a list of prospects, make a couple templates, press mail-merge, and hope for a response. When I first tried this I thought it was a brilliant idea. I could build a search in my CRM for exactly the profile person I wanted, then make a quick generic HTML template Dear “First Name” is “Company Name” looking for a new ERP? And the CRM would do all the work and send out 1,000 emails in the time it would take me to craft one. This was working smarter, wasn’t it?

The problem was that out of those 1,000 emails I only got about 20 responses and many of them were requests that I not email them again, or that they were not interested, or in some cases that they were already customers! I guess my search criteria, or our CRM data was inaccurate, how embarrassing since we sell CRM!

So I went back to making a slightly more catered email template and sending them out one at a time to targeted prospects. This was more manual but the templates let me exercise some automation and get through about 100 emails a day. Of those 100 emails my response rate still wasn’t great, less than 3 responses on average.

I went all the way back to the drawing board discouraged with my progress. I was working hard, long hours, but wasn’t getting the kind of pipeline interest I wanted. I decided I needed to increase my elevation to get my heart rate up. I interviewed some of our top reps and read some industry research. NetSuite hired Vorsight to come in and do some workshops with us and I had the pleasure of speaking with Lindsey Boggs about leveraging LinkedIn. After I had some training and knowledge behind me, I completely changed my approach. I sent 20 highly catered and personal, sometimes weird or funny, emails and InMails, it took a lot more research and creativity, but the results were much better- 7 qualified responses within 24 hours! This was working smarter.

If you invest in the tools and knowledge to learn how to get more effective results you will see them quickly. But if you keep doing what is easy and lazy, it actually ends up way more work for less impactful results. So no matter what area of your life you want to apply this lesson to, you can learn how to tie a knot, or you can keep tying a lot and hope for the best.

Kelli Lampkin

Kelli Lampkin is a writer, traveler, comedienne, and entrepreneur.

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