At Christmas each year, the boys and I make our regular trip down the coast to spend a few blissful weeks soaking up the sun and surf.  We take the fishing rods and spend many hours with a line in the water, hoping to bring home dinner.

But this year my son Jack cracked it!  “Dad, I want to go catching not fishing, why can’t we go on one of those boats out to sea? There are lots of fish there!”

Knowing that I was never going to hear the end of it, I paid the high season rate of $160 per head and organised our day on the bay. So off we went, full of hope and promise, guaranteed to bring home more fresh fish than we could carry… or at least that’s what the charter’s brochure seemed to suggest.

Now perhaps you’re not keen on fishing, but I’m sure you’ve seen similar promises from data base providers, telemarketing companies, sales training providers, digital marketing agencies – all promising endless results for your business. And like a number of my friends on the boat that day, have been left disappointed by the results.

Acquiring new customers, just like catching fish, can be a challenge. A lot of things need to go right for you to achieve this consistently.

In our work with globally recognised companies like IBM, SAP, Sony, and ANZ, leading industrials like Brambles, Australia Post, and AMCOR, along with hundreds of SME business leaders just like you, I’ve seen a numerous pitfalls and helped these businesses navigate choppy waters to achieve customer acquisition success.

So here are my 3 big tips to bring in those big fish.

  1. Go where the most profitable fish are:

Profitable fish

To be good at fishing, you need to identify where the premium catch is likely to be and bring your skills and strengths to catch them.  Even the best fly fisherman can leave disappointed in a school of hungry tuna – and business is no different.

Determine where best to direct your company’s marketing and selling resources by following these steps. In B2B, businesses buy to solve problems and/or execute against compelling opportunities, so start by:

  • Building a list of the high impact problems your customers have.
  • Then prioritise this against their propensity to spend and your strength at solving each customer problem or opportunity.

Arming yourself with the knowledge of the compelling problem you solve allows you to work through the company type and industry segments to target business leaders and search for specific information on their issues.

  1. Find the right bait,  this requires you to test, then test, then test again


Finding tactics that capture your audience is like finding the right bait. To get those fish hooked, you need to stimulate their hunger, get them close to the boat, and be sure they like what you’re feeding them for your line to get tapped.

Think about the journey that your target buyers are taking, which tactics will work best to:

  • Gain their interest;
  • Elevate their hunger and/or get them troubled;
  • Translate the gap to a need, and then need to a compelling proposal; and finally
  • Get them from proposal to a closed sale.

Consider using a blend of traditional and digital marketing tactics to connect to your most profitable buyers problems and needs. Research the platforms your audiences tend to go to, are they digital? Are they hard copy? Research the networking groups they are a part of, what conferences and events they attend, and the language they relate to.

You need to confirm the tactic you choose is the best one for your audience, so we recommend you test, then test, and test again until you find the optimum mix aligned to your target buyer’s journey.

  1. Equip your fishermen and women with the right skills 


You can’t hand a fishing rod to someone who’s never fished, and expect them to catch the most profitable ones on the market. They need training in order to develop their skills – only then, can they become your most valuable team member.

Your team of extremely capable sales and marketing experts are the same. Understanding what impacts buyer progression, which buying influences to target, and how to keep them when you have them, requires ongoing investment in sales and marketing training if you want to move from an amateur angler to skilled professional.  So find the right training programmes and then commit time to practising these skills in your team.

Having trained thousands of Sales and Marketing professionals worldwide I can attest to the payoff of getting this investment right.

My final tip to you – have a plan. The most successful captains always do!  They know where they are going, they know how long it will take, and they have thought out the activities that will get them there.  Successful businesses do the same thing, they have a plan that brings together all elements; objectives, strategy, funnel velocity, and sales and marketing progression tactics – distilled to one page, their Funnel Plan.

Contact us about building and executing your one page Funnel Plan for growth to move from fishing to catching every time!