Help! Help! My Funnel Is Empty!

Leads drive the employment campaign

The job funnel

It’s the bane of every salesman’s existence:no leads.

This is how the story goes: no leads–no appointments. No appointments–no opportunities to sell. No opportunities–no sales. No sales–no income. The end. Believe it or not the one thing that scared the crap out of me when I was attempting to get into sales was facing The Empty Funnel. I tried it with makeup; I tried it with kitchen knives; I tried it with health products; I almost tried it with financial services. Same thing. How exhilarating it felt when I floated to the top like fresh Guernsey milk cream at the end of a series of interviews at one company. No biggie for me. You see, I am a veteran inside retail sales rep and customer service is one of my areas of ability. Yes, I won that rookie sales job but I had to walk away from it on the second day of orientation because the very first thing the company asked all the aspiring salesmen to get was THE LIST.

Not a drop

Not a drop

New salespeople were always asked to come up with a list of 200 or so names, addresses and phone numbers. I did not understand this at first, but, THE LIST to a salesperson is 22K gold. THE LIST for an internet marketer is platinum. THE LIST of names of companies and hiring managers is what fills the all-important funnel of leads. Here is a very good explanation of that idea from, “The Career Sherpa” blog. Also, look at Peggy McKee’s Career Confidential. Once upon a time, I tried to do public relations for a start-up business, but made the mistake of not understanding that my job was prospecting for new customers for the business–filling the funnel up. Believe me, prospecting for leads is not easy for introverted souls because introverts like to keep smallish circles of influence. They often resist networking (building relationships is so energy-intensive). Some companies look at introverts on a sales force as trouble.

Just in case somebody is still thinking that a job search is nothing at all like outside sales, let us step back into the discussion about resumes. A “job hunt” (misnomer) is really a sales campaign and the rules of outside sales apply. I say outside sales because in-store salespeople are another related but specialized kind of sales personnel. For inside sales, traffic comes into the shop location from the street. Not so with outside salespeople. For them (and for job seekers) there always has to be a full funnel of opportunities to present the products–specialties, skills an abilities–to a targeted audience. An empty funnel means a longer time being not employed. Period.