We Will Provide You With More Leads Than You Can Handle

My old man has a friend who, as a young man, worked very hard to position himself for a job with a large investment-banking firm. He interviewed with his dream firm, and during the process they asked him if he had any questions about the potential position. He did.

This young man, knowing that he was going to be required to bring on new clients to succeed, asked if he would be provided with leads. The interviewer responded: “We will provide you with more leads than you can possibly handle.” Question answered, he was satisfied and took the position.

When he showed up for his first day of work, eager to get started, he asked if he could have his leads. Without a word, his manager grabbed a phone book and threw it on his desk. He had his leads.

It’s a true story, but that was a long, long time ago. Today’s equivalent would be someone pointing your browser to Google. A limitless supply of leads, but nothing in the way of targets. But there is a lesson here.

Hunter Culture, Part Two

A few weeks ago I posted about a conference I attended. At this conference a large consulting firm presented their research to a group of their clients. That research showed that companies that used cold calling as a primary prospecting method grew faster than those that didn’t. It also showed that companies that required their sales force to develop their own leads also grew faster than those that provided all of their leads.

There is something to this. Salespeople that believe that it’s someone else’s job to provide them with leads don’t do well. Those with a hunter mindset do better.

Hunters believe that it’s not marketing’s job to provide them with their leads, even though they hope they do their part. They don’t believe it’s inbound marketing’s job, even though they hope they provide some leads, too. Instead, hunters believe that they are going to have to hustle their own dream client list. They believe that they have to make their number on their own or not make it all.

Chances are, you know who your dream clients are already. They are just difficult to obtain, and they already have a partner providing what it you that might provide them (except that inimitable, unique value proposition that is YOU).

You are safer and more certain to make your number if you find and target your dream clients and build your own pipeline. Anything you are given is icing on the cake, not cake.

There is no metric for “waiting for leads.” You have to develop your own leads if you want to succeed in sales.


Who is responsible for providing you with leads?

What if they fail?

How does it help you to have to develop your own leads?

How do you develop a target list of dream clients that insures your success?



  • Betsy Cross

    In other words, if you want a job done right, do it yourself!

  • Anonymous Sales Rep

    I agree that cold calling is important part of business development, but I think your posts often over simplify things.

    Management wants results right now, this month, this quarter, this year.  I can (and do) go out an build a dream list of hundreds of companies that are a fit for my offering, but, as you say, dream clients are “difficult to obtain” and often “already have a partner” providing that service or product.

    If this is your only source of lead generation,you might have a lot of uphill, long term, long shot battles in front of you.  In many industries you’d probably be fired before you got a chance to close them, or even if you could close them you wouldn’t close them fast enough to stay ahead of quota; especially in an environment where marketing is feeding sales leads already.  

    In order to keep the momentum, you’re going to need some inbound, pre-qualified leads.  Prospects who know who you are and are already somewhat open to doing business with your type of company.

    Any reasonably successful business should be ale to provide this.  Of course, leads can dry up, and you don’t want to be over-dependant on leads, so you should go hunt your own business at the same time. But if I put on my CEO hat I still think that the solution to more new business probably lies in generating more demand and funnelling more leads into the pipeline, rather than relying on sales reps to pick them selves up by their boot straps and make it rain.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I am guilty of a lot of things, but oversimplification isn’t one of them. It would be malpractice to suggest that anything that I write about here is easy. It’s not. It takes more work and more effort than most are willing to give. 

      Management is always going to push for results now, and you are right to build your list. That’s how you get those results. And you are right that it does take time. But if one is worried about getting fired because they can’t meet their numbers, there can’t be any worse advice than waiting for leads. 

      I know a lot of salespeople. I work with a lot of sales organizations. The ones that do the best generate their own leads, and they consider anything their company provides as a gift. I have seen salespeople wait for their company to provide them with the leads they need, and I have seen them continually fail by waiting. It just isn’t a viable option of you want to succeed. 

      If you want prospects who already know who are and who are open to doing business with you, then you have to make yourself known as a value creator. They need to know YOU. This is why we prospect and nurture. 

      There is nothing wrong with a business generating demand and creating leads. The marketing function is critical, no doubt. But this is about what salespeople do to succeed, and they shouldn’t make excuses . . . they should prospect and build their pipeline. 

  • Rick Schwartz

    Hi Anthony.  I always love reading your posts, even though I don’t comment too often.

    The thing that stands out for me is that the manager even hired the guy. My reasoning is this:  An interview is the ultimate sales call. By asking if he would “provided with leads” is a very self-focused question.   

    The fact is that some (many) companies do provide leads for their salespeople so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to know – but…….   There are ways to find out the answer with out asking a “what will you do for me?” question.  

    As far as the cold calling and self generating leads, I tend to look at it from a functional perspective – not from a personnel perspective. 

    What I mean is that generating leads is different function than closing sales.   That doesn’t mean that that the functions have to be done by different people.  It can, and in many cases should be done by the same person.   I don’t, however, believe it’s an absolute.  There are business models where it makes perfect sense to have folks that specialize in lead gen and others that work the leads and close the sales.

    I do believe, however that a true salesperson will be competent and comfortable doing it all.  

    Thanks for an excellent post.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Hey Rick!

      I agree with you that the function can be done by different groups of people. It isn’t absolute. But my experience with B2B salespeople and sales organizations is that those salespeople that develop their own leads are far more successful than those that don’t. 

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


  • Rredinger


    Based on my short sales experience, I have to say you’re spot on. The accounts I’ve gotten by myself have a much richer, deeper connection than those handed to me. Much more work up front, much greater reward long term.


    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Hey Randy! They’re more work, but so worth it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.