In sales we can be guilty of collecting or searching for ‘shiny things’. Things that look important and are worth showing off, but don’t necessarily add value to what we do or amount to anything of value.
This isn’t meant as toys – but refers to prospects. It is very easy to fill ones pipeline up with these ‘shiny things’ to make ourselves and/or our bosses feel better. We then have important things in our pipeline – we and they feel better.
We’ve all seen it and, no doubt, some of us have been guilty of it. Chasing those ‘shiny things’ – referring to them at every opportunity, showing them off when someone asks what in your pipeline. Coveting them, but doing very little productive with them. Magpie-ing
What does this do to us?
It distracts us from real prospects. Real business. Real value. Some of the best prospects aren’t glamorous, aren’t big names. In fact, most aren’t. ‘Shiny things’ are notoriously slippery and, when we finally realise we can’t hold on to them, we suddenly realise the opportunity cost(s) of being so fixated on them.
It also makes for difficult conversations with your boss when you finally have to strip these ‘shiny things’ from your pipeline.
Most shiny things are coveted by many people, yet the person who currently holds it usually knows it’s of value, loves it to death and, therefore, it becomes very difficult to make it yours.
Sales Managers aren’t immune from this either. Actions by sales managers can reinforce this behaviour, this blind pursuit for trophy prospects. For example, only celebrating the shiny things in your pipeline reinforces the belief that, as a sales person, you must find them to be recognised as good. So you chase them. Sometimes blindly.
You should start from a solid foundation of which prospects are your ideal clients. Sure, some of these may well be ‘shiny things’ – and, in fact, some should be. Filling your pipeline is important – but please fill it with meaningful prospects, otherwise it just becomes a distraction.
You have to ask yourself three questions:
1. Is this a client I am likely to be able to win?
2. If yes, can I demonstrate the value needed to displace it?
3. How long will this take?
If you can’t answer yes to 1 and 2 – don’t bother with 3. It doesn’t mean drop it entirely, it just means de-prioritise it until something changes that you can change the answer to these questions.
Don’t magpie and base your entire sales strategy around ‘shiny things’. Otherwise you may just end up with a nest full of great names in your pipeline and no business written.