The easy trap

The prospects that are the easiest to engage with online–the ones that believe big promises, simple come-ons and garish interfaces–are often the very people who will become your lowest-value customers.

The person who's the easiest to get a first date with might not be the person you want to marry. When I was selling new media promotions in 1994 (!), many big companies had someone in charge of buying new stuff. They were easy to meet with, easy to make a small sale to–but ultimately a waste of time. That's because they were charged with buying things that were new, not what worked. Once we weren't new, we couldn't get repeat business from them. No, it was the other guy, the guy who bought what worked, the one in charge of the real budget–he wasn't easy, but he was worth it…

If it's easy to get a meeting or make a first sale, consider that the very ease that enabled that sale might be a sign that the long-term value of this customer is pretty low. It's easy to get the door answered if you're selling vacuum cleaners house to house, not so easy to get a meeting with the head of merchandising at Wal-Mart. It's easy to get the tech-savvy hordes to sign up for your new whiz-bang free beta, hard to visualize how these easily bored window shoppers are going to become your tribe.

But if all you're doing is measuring the response rate of your initial pitches, you're going to ring more doorbells, not do the long-term trust-building work of earning a reputation.