This past week I’ve been working with several individuals that I mentor. We focused on the sales and channel mechanisms they use to obtain new clients. The more I thought about it the more I realized that there are really five mechanisms that it takes to successfully catch a client, the exact same as catching a fish. Many of us have a tendency as a business owner to add a bunch of gears, complexities, and processes which can actually decrease our chance of ever catching anything. In reality it is simple.

As a young man I used to love to fish in the mountain streams and what I learned is that there are really only five things I needed that were necessary for me to catch a fish.

1. I needed a piece of bait. This piece of bait could change from day to day from a piece of cheese, worms, or lures. I had to be able to adapt and give the appropriate piece of bait in order to lure my target.

2. I had to use a hook. I couldn’t just throw a worm in there and expect to catch a fish. Using a hook was vital when fishing.

3. I needed a line. Something lightweight had to tether me to the fish so I could bring them in.

4. I had to bring a rod when fishing. The rod gave enough tension so I could tell if I was pulling too hard. The rod allowed me to give and take and interact with the fish until I was ready to use the last and final component.

5. Using a reel was key. The reel is what allowed me to carefully use the line and pull in the fish and capture them.

This metaphor is so real and so relevant especially when you are engaging your business clients. Take a moment to go through the list and apply these to your business situation.

BAIT: What will attract the customer? What does your customer have a strong appetite for? That is your bait. You have to put a message out that captures their attention that they are hungry for. An example right now is the health care industry that is in total confusion and abuzz about how to deal and interact with ObamaCare. In the medical industry a perfect piece of bait would be offering clear and concise information about what is going on with ObamaCare.

HOOK: The hook is the mechanism of how you engage your clients. Do you capture their email? Do you have a phone call? Do you invite them to a teleseminar? Do you offer them a sample? If you are part of the retail channel what method do you use to capture a client’s information so you have a ‘hook’ in their mouth? (Hopefully it’s not a painful one.)

LINE: What channel are you using to get to your customers? I believe channels are the most important aspect of all of this. Take a moment to determine which channel or method are you using to get to the customers. Understanding how you connect to the customers is vital. In retail this would obviously be how you would distribute. In the case of electronic or online I use the medium of my blog to communicate and engage with you.

ROD: If you just take a piece of metal and attempt to catch a fish you’ll never experience the give and take the fish gives off. Frequently the fish will just break away and swim or you’ll jerk the hook right out of its mouth. It is important to have a mechanism where you can go back and forth and understand your customer’s needs and wants. This is a sequence typically used when handling big contractual deals with a series of back and forth exchanges and meetings and PowerPoints and dialog and bit-by-bit you are able to carefully reel in your customer. In the case of a product or service it may be some demonstrations or creating more aisle space with extra promotions highlighting the product.

REEL: The final component is the mechanism you use to close the deal. This is the final pitch and it needs to be refined, articulate, and consistent with all the other mechanisms. If the reel is jerked too tightly then once again you could break the string and lose your customer.

I think this is an outstanding metaphor for not only if you are going to catch a big trout, bass, or salmon but also if you’re attempting to catch a ‘business’ fish. It’s also worth noting that the size of the fish also factors in to how sensitive or firm-handed you need to be when it comes to the back and forth. A larger contractor may require a much heavier line and much more engagement on the rod. However, I would really encourage you to not overcomplicate your sales process.

Alright all you Zigzaggers! Go out and land yourself a big, fat, juicy fish.