Years ago a gnarly old sales manager said something in a sales meeting that stuck.

When someone complained about the lack of sales results he said, “You’ve probably collected too many china eggs.”

He was talking about those delicate hand-painted works of art crafted from hollowed-out eggshells: Lovely to look at, treated gently – worthless if broken.

It’s that way in sales, sometimes. The prospects we collect are nice to look at – a prestigious name or friendly people – but not very nourishing. And they require way too much care and handling.

Among the problems china eggs create are:

  • Long sales cycles
  • Smaller-than-average results
  • Clogged or shrinking pipelines.

Take a step back
If you spot symptoms like this, you need to look objectively at what is going on. You may be collecting too many “china eggs” without realizing it.

For example, it may be that you prefer to work with smaller, “family-friendly” companies – but your product or service is a better fit for enterprise buyers with deeper pockets.

Or, maybe you like working the “C-suite” where you can have strategic, big-picture conversations – but your offering is best sold to a mid-level manager.

We know one young sales rep who targeted owners of day care centers because they were easy to reach. Trouble is, she was selling computer systems and software they could never afford, no matter how much they liked the idea.

Look for the best fit
So it goes for sellers who are targeting people or companies they’d prefer to do business with, when the prospects are not the best fit for the solutions they are offering. Result: Prospecting feels good, your pipeline appears full, but results just aren’t there.

Sure, the need and desire may be there. And they might have a genuine interest or enjoy speaking with you. But you won’t sell anything if they cannot justify the expense involved. They are “china eggs” that clog your pipeline and keep you from targeting the right buyers.

Better: Zero in on prospects that match the solutions you have to offer. Not just in terms of need, but by size, industry and budget.

Action step: Look back over the past year or two and analyze your best customers to identify your best target market. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What industry (or subset) are they in?
  • What’s their size in terms of revenue, employees or locations?
  • Who did you work with?
  • Where are they located?
  • What did they like most about your product or service offering?
  • How have they implemented your solution, and what was the payoff?

Analyzing your “A-list” customers will help you identify the prospects you should be spending your time targeting and developing. They may not be the most prestigious or easy to work with. But for the salesperson, the most beautiful prospect is the one most likely to buy.

Source: Adapted from a post by Kendra Lee. For more, visit

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