Small-Net Fishing at the SiriusDecisions Summit

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small net fishing man2 Last month I attended the SiriusDecisions Summit. In the midst of one of the breakout sessions, I received the following text from one of our clients, “I’m in the small-net fishing session. It’s very relevant to our program with Vorsight. Come join me!” I took her advice and it led to some big changes in our outbound lead generation service.

Before the conference, all of the leads generated by the client’s marketing team were sent directly into our CRM system.  Our BDAs (Business Development Associate – cold caller) would then reach out to the leads to schedule introductory appointments based on the contact and touch plans created during the onboarding process. If the appointment was not scheduled for any reason, the lead would be marked unqualified and it would live in our system until a monthly report was sent to the client. And let’s be serious who reads those reports with a fine tooth comb? For our purpose, all leads were created equally but any knowledgeable sales or marketing professional knows that this is not the case!

As the presenter discussed small-net fishing, a light bulb went off in both me and my client’s head.  To better explain, let me paint you a picture of how I grasped the importance of small-net fishing:

Imagine your territory as the ocean and your ideal prospect as a five-year-old Zebrafish. You have 100 fishermen that divide their time equally across the entire ocean, using a variety of different bait in an attempt to catch these ZebraFish. But what if I told you that Zebrafish live on the equator line and eat worms? This has huge consequences for your business. If all of your fishermen spend their time on the equator, using worms as bait, the number of Zebrafish you’re catching is going to double, triple, maybe even QUADRUPLE! Now let’s look at the fishes’ age. Let’s say, every time you catch a fish under the age of five, you throw it back in the water. You may see that fish again, you may not. What if you took that fish, and put it in a small pond that’s right in your backyard. Your chances of seeing this fish again at the ripe age of five are looking a whole lot better!

So how does this relate to sales and prospecting? And more specifically, how does this relate to our client?

1.            We were fishing across the entire ocean: Without a lead scoring system, our team was following up on EVERY lead. Our BDAs were trying to catch any fish they could, rather than catching the RIGHT fish. By implementing a scoring system in which leads were awarded a specific point value associated with favorable traits, our team was able to prioritize the leads and start fishing closer to the equator.

2.            We didn’t know what to use for bait: Using a one-way communication model, the client would provide us with leads but we were not providing the client with information beyond that about the meetings scheduled. Without an effective feedback loop in place, the client was not utilizing metrics to better understand which sources were generating qualified leads and which sources were generating unqualified leads. Implementing a two-way communication model in which the client could attribute closed deals to a lead source allowed Vorsight to implement a more advanced scoring system. With this system, our client was able to analyze her collateral to better understand which strategies were successful. She is now able to use those strategies to develop more effective collateral to bring in higher quality leads.

3.            We were throwing back young fish: What about the good leads, the prospects that might not be ready to buy for another year? Those were going back into the ocean! By implementing a two-way feedback loop, our client was able to put them back in an automated stream or a “small pond” and continue the relationship.

In effect, small-net fishing involves the following steps:

  • Developing a set of criteria that can be used to assign a value, or “priority level” to a lead
  • Using this criteria to develop touch plans and messaging that aligns with the specified “priority levels”
  • Implementing an outbound teleprospecting strategy aligned with lead prioritization

It’s a vast world of discussion I would love your thoughts! Contact me at to discuss.


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