Sales Training 101: Fish where the fish are

…not where you would like them to be.

I spent over 10 years building entrepreneurial ventures that had a lot of selling involved (insurance, business services, restaurant franchises, aeroplanes).

Fish Where the Fish Are

I met a young entrepreneur last week at Startupbootcamp.  He told me “I am not good at sales”.  I said “What do you mean?”.  He said that he can’t seem to keep prospects interested.  I asked him how he selected his target prospects.  He returned a blank stare.

I said “do you try to sell to everyone you meet?”

He didn’t say anything but the body language was saying “well, yes of course”

This is how to die young as a salesperson.  

My daughter loves fishing.  To be honest, she loves the idea that she has of fishing, rather than the reality of fishing.  We have a small cottage by the beach in Costa Brava and often we will go and spend some time “fishing”.  I don’t really want to catch anything, I just want to chill out with her while we watch the sea and the sun setting and the changes of nature.  She wants to catch fish.

If I want to catch fish I go to one place.  If I don’t fancy cleaning and gutting a fish, I go to other places.

The place where I go to fish is the place where the fish are.

The place where I go to not fish, is any place that the fish are not.

Fishing Well, Selling Well

Fish wisely:  “Fish where the fish are” – not randomly, or where you would like to be.

Selling to a person who is not the M.A.N. is a waste of breath.  M is money, A is authority and N is need.  If the MAN is not in the room, be polite and leave.

Find People who Want to Change

Who are your best clients?  Where can you find more?  Target well. 

In my aviation business we discovered that the people that were most happy to regularly meet were often competitors interested in learning about our business (and copying our brochures, contracts and process). We learnt to be very careful and take time to bring prospects through a long (2-4 months) process before we would actually pitch the deal and put a contract in front of them.  It made a real difference – not only in more effective sales, but in a major improvement in my personal motivation and enjoyment of the sales process.

Photo Credit: Nicolas Valentin

8 responses to “Sales Training 101: Fish where the fish are”

  1. […] If you liked this post you might also like Fish where the Fish are and The 3 biggest Objections to overcome when […]

  2. I would like to fish with you, can you be my mentor!

  3. Great narrative, Connor. I knew the one about the darkness search. But I like more this one about fishes. I guess the idea of seas as markets has a profound reseamblance in my mind of entrepreneur… 😉

  4. I like this post. It reminds me of a story about a famous character in Arabic folklore, Juha. Juha could be either dumb as a sack of hammers or brilliantly insightful. He was often both at once. Sort of like Peter Sellers in “Being There”.

    Anyway, in one story, a man is walking down the street one night. There is a lone street lamp. Juha is on his knees in the small circle of light, searching the ground. The man asks, “What are you doing?” Juha replies, “I’ve lost something and I am looking for it.” The man asks, “Where did you lose it?” Juha straightens up and points to a spot some 25 metres away in the darkness. The man asks, “If you lost it over there, why are you looking here?” Juha answers, “Because it’s dark over there. Here I can see.”

    1. Hehe, exactly! Brilliant metaphor 😉

  5. Fish where the fish are. After reading your insightful article I also understand that there are different types of fish, some you may not want i.e. competitors. Would you be able to share some of the 2-4 month process/steps you take your future customers through? Any books you would recommend to learn more? Thank you.

    1. I have lots of ideas, and several great books… not every great thought makes it out on the blog… some of my stuff I keep for courses!

    2. Gary,

      I think we have just been shown how to start the 2-4 month process!! Conor, brilliant as ever.

What are your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.