Leads and avocados are better when they’re not ready yet

I’m going to tell sales managers how to get perfect leads from marketing every time. But first, I’m going to tell you about avocados.

In our house we eat avocados for nearly every meal. Breakfast toast or smoothies, lunch salads, and dinner tacos. Avocados come in three levels of ripe:

  • Not Yet
  • Right Now
  • Too Late

And our local grocer always has lots of avocados. The problem is, they only carry “Not Yet” avocados and “Too Late” avocados. So I have to come home with avocados that are bright green river rocks, or deflated black athletic socks.

Why are there no “Right Now” avocados? It’s because a grocery store is a terrible place to become a ripe avocado. It’s bustling, it’s the wrong temperature, you get other avocados dumped on you, you get squeezed by hundreds of people.

So the only way to get a Right Now avocado is to take home a Not Yet avocado and treat it right. I bring them home and my daughter will say “these are too hard, I can’t eat them” and I’ll say “not yet.”

I put them gently on the counter, usually in a paper bag to control light and moisture. I rotate them a ¼ turn every day. Sometimes I even talk to them. And soon those river rocks become perfectly Right Now avocados.

Your marketing and SDR teams are probably sending you two types of avocados—I mean leads: outbound, and inbound. Or as I like to call them, Not Yet, and Too Late.

Inbound leads seem great because they’re eager to talk, and they probably have budget and an active project. The downsides: They’re probably already talking to your competitors, and they’re making a decision based on price, because the presumptive value is already fixed in their head, even if they don’t have a full understanding of your product. So you don’t have much time to do discovery, shift their mindset, and help them design the right solution for their situation.

Outbound leads on the other hand, are like those Not Yet river rocks. No budget, no active project. But if you have the patience to treat them right, you’ll be there when they ripen.

“Why don’t they send me “Right Now” leads???” Because marketing is the grocery store, and that may not be the best place for your lead to become ripe. And the moment it does become ripe, you want it to already be on your kitchen counter. If a sales person has a story of “the one that got away,” it’s usually because they brought it home from the store Too Late. There is a huge advantage to being the trusted partner as a prospect moves from problem to solution.

So the next time you go back to your marketer or your SDR with a river rock of a lead, and say “these are too hard, I can’t sell to them,” don’t be surprised if the answer is “not yet.”

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