Just Whistle

I walked with a friend as she walked her dogs a few nights ago. Her "hounds" are big, affectionate, and full of energy.   She had them off-leash, so they explored and  investigated at a half-urgent leisurely trot at a distance of 20 - 40 yards or so. At one point, my friend whistled a pattern of short sounds. The dogs looked around.

She called, “come.”  The dogs broke from their searches, loped back to her, and sat down, learning against her legs. They were instantly rewarded for their quick returns with lots of verbal cooing and head rubbing. Happy hounds.

NONE of the other dogs in the area responded to her whistles. They didn’t even break stride to look at us.

This is a little like our prospects.  We whistle at them and call to them; they don’t pay any attention. And, while there are some dog handlers who could go into that area and, within a few moments, attract every dog in the place into an instant dog pack, most mortals can’t do that.

There is one lesson we mortals can learn from these master dog attractors.  In a very short period of time, they will try multiple whistles, calls, behaviors, and body postures to attract the dogs’ attention, see what they respond to, and establish themselves as pack leaders to attract the pack.  As in, they don’t continuously try the same pattern over and over, get no result, and continue, hoping that it’ll work (like we do when we smile, dial, and pitch over and over again).

When we think about prospecting, the  key is to vary our approaches and vary our messages, like the master dog handlers.  This involves some thinking:

Developing an approach

  • Which prospects do you want to attract?
  • What’s happening in their worlds (what are their opportunities and vulnerabilities)?
  • How do your skills and your products and services address them? What problems do you solve?

Try different behaviors – if you plan to touch your prospects 6 times per year…

  • Vary the approach – some phone messages, some emails, some personal contact (you run into them at a meeting or community event), some connections through people you know in common
  • Vary the content – if there are five opportunities or vulnerabilities, focus on each of them once in a series, then go back to the beginning, e.g. one message about health care costs challenges, one message about fraud vulnerability, one message about accelerating receivables collections, one message about payments management, one message about cost control opportunities, then back to health care or on to another issue.

The person with the most flexibility and shortest cycle times  (i.e. the highest ability to try multiple approaches quickly and figure out which one works) wins.

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