Whenever I present in person to a group, I hand out $5 scratch-off lottery tickets to people in the audience. Not because I’m a good guy, but to illustrate an important sales concept: Treat leads like scratch-off lottery tickets.
I tell the ticket holders not to scratch the wax off until after they answer this question: “How much is your lottery ticket worth?”
They look at the ticket. Turning it over in their hands to see if they can find the price I paid for it. Once they find that I invariably get the answer, “five dollars.”
That’s how much I paid for the ticket, but that’s not how much it’s worth.
Sometimes I get the answer, “100,000 dollars.” That’s the potential value if the card holds the winning combination of numbers. But, it’s not necessarily how much the card is worth. To determine the card’s worth, the cardholder must scratch the wax off the front with a quarter or a fingernail.
Potential is a magical word for sales people. It conjures up all sorts of possibilities. As salespeople, we know there are no such things as guaranteed winners. Give us sales opportunities with potential and we will convert some number of them into orders.
How do you determine a lead’s potential? Scratch the wax! Be proactive and do some research. Check out all of the information on their website, investigate their industry and their competitors, check out key players on LinkedIn and look for mutual connections, whatever it takes. And then pick up the phone and make the call. Engage the way the lead wants you to.
Studies show that anywhere from 40 to 80 percent of leads are never followed-up on by sales. Let’s round that off to 50% for simplicity’s sake. Okay now, 24 billion dollars worth of scratch lottery tickets are sold in the US every year. Does anyone believe that 50% of those tickets, some $12 billion worth, are sitting unscratched somewhere? In a sock drawer? Or in the glove compartment of your car? Of course not!
People aren’t even out of the convenience store where they purchased the ticket before they scrape off the wax. Ticket holders know the unscratched ticket never pays a prize and they’re hoping to unlock the winning potential.
Why aren’t you treating sales leads the same way as scratch-off tickets? Why don’t you have the same sense of urgency to learn more about a sales lead that has the potential to be a customer? Or the potential to become a repeat customer generating a steady flow of recurring revenue? Or the potential to become a reference account that creates additional sales leads for you?
A sales lead has potential. It may not end up being a prospect. But you will never know until you engage with it. After all, the unscratched lottery ticket never pays a prize.