Why Chasing Shiny Objects Isn’t a Great Approach to Sales

It’s been my experience as a Fractional VP of Sales that chasing shiny objects is the number one reason for sales revenue generation failure to launch. In sales, ‘chasing shiny objects’ refers to the successive and rapid non-focused pursuit of any and all sales opportunities that look promising. This is a phenomenon in which each opportunity looks more interesting than the one before it and is pursued without any analysis of Probability to Close to support that decision.  

The Danger of Chasing Shiny Objects 

This type of activity makes a sales team appear active and potentially productive, which can lull business owners into a false sense of security. In reality, this approach means resources get poured into chasing sales opportunities that are not a good fit.  Further, the opportunity cost of the time invested in these wild goose chases is high.  Weeks, months, and quarters can fly by while chasing these shiny objects with no revenue results to show for it.

Unfortunately, it can take several quarters to prove that this approach to sales is ineffective. An entire year of sales quota can be burned as the sales team goes after these non-opportunities. So, what can be done about this? 

How to Avoid Wasting Time and Resources on Sales Opportunities That Don’t Materialize

1. Identify Your Ideal Customer Profile

Before your sales team is tasked with going on the hunt for new clients, ensure they have a vivid description of exactly what it is they are looking for. Document the prospect type by whatever parameters are required for your business.

Typically, these are things such as their annual revenue, headcount, geographic location, the degree to which they would use your products and services in volume and revenue, and the pain points that your solutions or products would resolve.

2. Create Buyer Personas

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional psychographic description of the individuals your salespeople are selling to. It should describe in detail the things the buyers or decision-makers are motivated by, what they do and don’t care about, and what their goals and challenges are. 

It’s helpful to create a specific representation of a buyer with a name, age, gender, and position in their company’s organizational chart. This detailed description helps salespeople prepare for the sales task at hand by helping them visualize a real person with needs and challenges that they can address in their sales approach.

3. Identify the Opposite of Your Ideal Customer Profile and Buyer Personas

Once you’ve got a clear description of who your ideal customers are and their detailed buyer personas, that allows you to be equally clear on who you’re not targeting. This gives your salespeople clarity on what not to pursue as they are hunting for opportunities.

Opportunities with insufficient volume or lack of clearly stated needs are not the best ones to devote time and effort toward. Beware of prospects that say, “we’re small now but we have big growth plans”. These often end up being customers that get significant discounts upfront for volume that never materializes. 

4. Teach Your Sales Team to Say No

Salespeople tend to be eternal optimists who see every viable sales opportunity as a great one. Being competitive and enjoying a challenge can also play into chasing shiny objects. Your people may not take the time to discern between a viable opportunity and an excellent one. 

One way to remedy this is to let them know that it’s absolutely okay to throw a fish that’s too small back into the water! It’s also a good idea to let them know that it’s perfectly acceptable for them to empty their funnel of opportunities that are shiny objects and start from zero.

5. Establish a Documented Sales Process 

Salespeople are attracted to shiny objects because they enjoy the reassurance of a full funnel. An empty funnel is a scary thing when you have no clear line of sight into how to fill it up with good opportunities.

Taking the time to document your sales process gives your team a systematic process to follow that will result in a full funnel over time. With clear steps to take, they will have confidence in their ability to fill the funnel as long as they hit the minimum daily sales activity requirements. Taking the mystery out of finding opportunities will help prevent chasing shiny objects.

6. Add “Chasing Shiny Objects” Into Your Company Vernacular

Even your best sellers will occasionally fall into the trap of pursuing shiny objects. By adding this language into your team’s vocabulary, the manager of your sales team has a non-judgemental way to question whether or not an opportunity your salesperson is devoting time, resources, and money into is, in fact, worthy of it. It’s also a catchy phrase that will stay with your salespeople and encourage them to ask themselves, “is this a shiny object I’m after?”. 

No sales leader wants their people to be distracted by pursuing new opportunities at the expense of neglecting better opportunities that may already be underway. The urge to chase shiny objects happens to the best sellers but being aware of it and taking the steps above can help you make sure your revenue doesn’t suffer because of it. 

Are you dealing with shiny object syndrome on your sales team and wondering how to approach it? Get in touch and I’d be happy to discuss this with you further. 


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