Zombie Prospects

“Zombie Notifications – so-named because when you think you have killed them, they rise from the dead”

A term new to me this Spring. Courtesy of the online giants’ efforts to constantly bombard us to surreptitiously harvest our ever-valuable private information.

In part from having blogged on the zombieconomy a decade ago (and not solely from its use to describe households that stop spending during a downturn), it did make me think of a parallel selling positive though.

What happens to suspects that you know will be in the market for your wonderful wares at some stage, but do not yet currently put themselves in that cycle right now?

A conversation with such brings to mind the truly awful recruitment knockback. ‘We’ve nothing at the moment, but will keep your details on file’. Pathetic.

Not everyone can be searching for the solution to an issue which you readily, beautifully provide, all at the same time.

I once learned from an exercise with my old (in what is today known more as) enterprise software vendor chief. Way back then, the competition ranged from huge big-ticket mainframes to pen and paper ledgers. Precious little in between. It turned out that the average length of time a company kept their system in place was thought to be eight years.

Yet technology was hurtling along. With the advent of thankfully cheap dumb terminals attached to smaller-scale servers and personal desktop computers closer to resembling modern-day PCs becoming ever more widespread colliding with the Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) fad, this timeline was potentially being slashed in half.

This meant that at any one given moment, with buying cycles expected to last six months, one-in-eight businesses were potentially ‘in the market’. And so a resultant cold-calling campaign proved. When expanded to include finance leaders expecting to look around within twelve months, this ratio shot up. More than one-in-four now self-included.

A year later, the funnel was re-examined through that earlier campaign’s lens. A lot had “fallen through the cracks”. Where had all those salivating proto-buyers gone? Sales blamed Marketing. Marketing blamed Sales.

Salespeople are programmed by experience to have laser-blinkers on the now. Whenever someone says, “call me in three months”, they zone out. I bet that most seasoned solution sellers can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times they’ve made that 90-day call back and heard in response, “oh yes, so glad you called, let’s get cracking…”. In fact, they most likely never even unclench their fist.

So where are the zombie prospects?

And be wary of fall back simply on the new broom appointment to enliven moribund spend intention afresh.

Well, dead prospects are possibly clogging up your funnel already. They need to be buried.

As for the ones you can awake to become un-dead, twenty years ago you might have had quarterly seminar invites, annual exhibition attendance, monthly white papers.

Even then, it was apparent that the focus was typically on the vendor. ‘You gotta see our latest release!’. Rather than the buyer and one of their perennial or recently manifest issues.

Today, alas Instagram following, Facebook friending, LinkedIn messaging are no better substitute for spotting the deal-corpse reanimation. For starters, label all your potential zombies together. Whether you have support from elsewhere to keep in touch or not, you need to know what the actual trigger will be that sparks resurrection. A time stamped horizon is never enough;

“What do you hope to happen between now and then..?”

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