Anybody that knows me well knows that I LOVE fishing. I’d better: I live right on one of the most productive bass fishing areas on Lake Erie and not loving fishing would almost be criminal. In my nearly 14 years living on the lake, I have fished nearly every species you could name. Bass, walleye, drum, perch, brown trout, bowfin, crappie - I love them all. But when I first started fishing this lake, I was catching far fewer fish than I do today. A fishing buddy of mine once joked “It’s called Fishin’ and not Catchin’ for a reason!” Although there’s some truth to that, I’m here to tell you from experience that catching is a lot more fun. And the more method you apply to fishing, the more you’re going to catch.
Anybody that knows me well knows that I also love business development and sales. Yup. If I’m not fishing, you’ll find me out in the world helping customers to better their business lives with powerful and unique solutions. As with fishing, I love what I get to do in the world of business every day. Today, we’re going to explore how we can catch more fish AND how learning to do so can help us land more deals and improve our businesses! So, get out your tackle and let’s hit the water together to learn how 7 fishing tips can help you not only catch more fish but also net more deals. We’ll also be sharing links to some other powerful business resources so you can fish even more!
Always set the hook first:
The most fundamental lesson any fisher person can learn is to set the hook. Fish don’t always gulp down a lure, often they are just nibbling and even though it feels like you have it you probably don’t. Setting the hook involves pulling back hard and evenly on the rod to ensure that hook goes a little deeper. Only then can you begin the business of reeling in your trophy catch. Sales folks forget this sometimes and start trying to close a customer simply because they said they would like a demo. A demo is the hook set and there is a lot of work “reeling” in the customer to get them in the boat. Setting the hook in a demo involves more that features and speeds. It involves asking business-level questions and digging deep to learn more about the needs and desires of the customer. Going for the close too quickly = trying to reel in the fish before the hook is set - leads to a lot of lost deals (and fish!). Set the hook first. Always. Using LinkedIn is one of the ways I set the hook. You can learn LinkedIn’s top 10 tips for sales professionals HERE.
Switch up your colors:
I wish I would have learned this one years ago. Fishing lures come in a wealth of colors and it’s not just so you’ll spend more at the tackle shop. Fish react to different colors on different days, sometimes even different times of the day. When fishing, you need to switch up colors often until you start getting bites. Same with customers. Current events, changing corporate initiatives, even the time of year can have a big effect on buying triggers. Once you’ve sold one customer, you’ve sold one customer… The same sales approach won’t work every time, not for every mood and personality. So, make sure you are mixing it up until you find what works for the particulars of the sale. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a standardized approach, just make sure the approach has flexibility built in. There’s a great blog by Forbes Magazine that shares 5 ways that sales has changed over the years and is a great read if you’re looking to add some new colors to your tackle box.
Invest in a fish finder:
I do most of my fishing on Lake Erie in a Kayak. If you look at Lake Erie on a map, you’ll see just how big a body of water this lake is. For years, I would eyeball where I thought I hit fish in the past, but of course I could never paddle out to the same spots. Rocky crags, cliff edges, boulder piles, these are all great places for fish to hide. The problem is you can’t see those landmarks under 30 feet of water! Unless you have a fish finder. The one I use shows me when fish are below me and it has a built-in topography map and GPS to help me find great spots again and again. Technology has helped dramatically improve the number of fish I bring home for supper. Technology for your business is like that too. Replacing manual processes with business automation can help ensure you’re keeping costs in check and understanding future buying triggers from existing customers. A CRM and service technician management platform are just a couple of examples. Spend less time guessing and more time catching (costs, new customers, etc.).
Put hours on the water:
I think I once heard that it takes 10,000 hours to become expert at any given skill. The more time I spend on the water, the better I get at fishing. There are a lot of finesse techniques and small tricks that are learned only over time. As soon as a fish hits my hook now, I can tell you whether it’s a bass, drum or walleye in less than a couple of seconds, all without ever seeing it. How you fish each species and bring them back to your boat is different for each. The best way to learn those differences is time plus effort. Most of the time I’ve spent on the water has been training well spent. People need training no matter what they are doing. So, make sure your people spend lots of time on the water (that water could be learning how to develop warm leads, determining cashflow benchmarks, finding the right marketing mix, etc.) honing their skills and developing expertise. There are no short cuts, just effort and time. A good fisher person loves being on the water. Help your people to find the love of using their time to get better too. We even do it for our customers through the Tigerpaw Academy. Love what you do!
Don’t stay in one hole too long:
I fish with people who say “Let’s fish over here, I caught 10 bass there last summer!” They’ll stay on that hole for an hour or more without catching another fish and refuse to leave until they do. Some call that persistence. But if there’s no fish in the hole, it’s the definition of insanity. Great fisher folks know that the best way to bring in more fish is to never stay in one spot for too long, unless the bite is on of course! They’ll move from hole to hole until they hit one that delivers. We could stand to do more of that in our businesses too. If something that used to work isn’t working anymore, try something new. Move on to a new set of prospects. Stop spending money and time on things that simply aren’t working any more. We live by this rule at Tigerpaw and it’s done us well over the years. There’s lots of holes bursting with fish. Time is finite - move around a bit so you don’t miss the opportunities that habit holds you too.
Try new techniques:
When I first started fishing, I had 2 things I knew how to do: Fish with a worm and bobber and fish with a spinner bait. Although both are great for certain types of fish and bodies of water, limiting yourself to a couple of fishing styles also limits the number of fish that come home. I’ve since learned to use drop-shots, a NED rig, a Texas rig, trolling with worm harnesses, crank baits, jerk baits and all manner of top water lures. What we offer our customers is kind of like that too. If we’re in Managed IT we might say “we don’t do Unified Communications”, or if we’re in Managed Print we might say “we don’t do Managed IT”. Just like fishing and learning new techniques, learning and delivering adjacent business offerings can have a huge impact on new revenue growth and customer loyalty. We’ve written an eGuide to show you what you could be missing by sticking fast to that worm and bobber.
Expect bite-free days and get back out there:
There are days when I hit the water and come home with nothing. I’ll be messaging with my fishing buddies and I often hear “Great day to be on the water but the bite was off.” I’ve never seen one of my fishing friends give up fishing because of that or go home feeling sad. I love the expression “A day spent fishing and not catching anything is still better than a day not fishing.” Fishing, for those that learn to love it and for those that put in the time, becomes a life-long love and way of life. So, it should be with every aspect of our business. There will be days, sometimes months (thanks COVID-19), when we put in the time and don’t see any results. But when we love what we do, when we keep at it. Eventually, we’ll get a lot of days where the “bite is ON!” And boy are those good days. But if we’re not on the water, we’ll never know - right?
We hope you found this blog nearly as much fun as fishing and that you found a few new lures to help you catch a few big ones for your business as well. As they say when heading out for a day of fishing, “Tight lines.”
Looking for more great content and expertise to help you grow your business? Be sure to check out the Tigerpaw blog as well as our podcast, Tigerpaw Radio, for more insightful and helpful business tips and learning.