How to stop chasing Will-o-the-wisps

George Brontén

In ancient English lore, a Will-o-the-wisp is a mischievous spirit of swampy and dark places that uses a lantern-like light to lure unwary travelers off the path. Travelers may mistake the Will-o-the-wisp for a fellow traveler leading the way or for a kindlier spirit, such as a Leprechaun, who might lead them to treasure.

But in the end, the victim finds themselves in total darkness in a dangerous place such as the top of a cliff or the middle of a sinking bog.

This cautionary tale may have been used in the past to discourage travelers from trusting strange lights in the swamps, but today the Will-o-the-wisp tale is a useful analogy for one way that salespeople waste time and energy when prospecting for leads.

Without a clear path to prospecting success, salespeople spend too much time chasing “strange lights,” and not enough time moving toward their prospecting goals. This shows up as too much time on bad leads, not enough good leads, and lots of time “wandering” around hoping to strike a pot of gold but more likely ending up in a swamp.

The solution to this problem is simple: Arm salespeople with an effective, structured prospecting process, a path to follow that leads where they want to go, and the resources to “light the way” there. A clear path and illumination along the way makes it easy to resist the temptation of strange lights in the swamp and eliminates the need to wander aimlessly hoping to find a pot of gold.

Don't spam your prospects. Instead, introduce manual, structured touches using checklists.
George Brontén

But until recently, implementing and reinforcing such a process and providing effective resources for following it has been a key challenge.

That’s why we added Prospect Engagement Playbooks to Membrain

Membrain’s customizable Prospect Engagement Playbooks (sign up for launch webinar) enable sales organizations to build all their best-practice prospecting processes directly into the salesperson’s daily workflow, providing a step-by-step path to success and reinforcing it throughout the process.

Establish and reinforce qualifying criteria for customer fit. Schedule touches. Use an integrated meeting scheduler. Embed email templates and text snippets, as well as training and enablement content (in context via Membrain’s content hub).


In contrast to other prospecting process tools, Membrain’s Engagement Playbooks don’t attempt to automate cadences with canned responses and automated follow-ups. In complex b2b sales, canned messages get treated as spam. Prospects experience them as annoying, and they can damage your relationship and your brand. They say “no” to you by hitting the delete button.

Instead, Membrain’s Prospect Engagement Playbooks enable an intelligent, structured approach to building and nurturing relationships. You can schedule touches inside the tool so that the salesperson is reminded to follow up an initial outreach by email after a day, and by LinkedIn in three, with a phone call to follow (for instance), making sure that no prospect falls through the cracks. You can embed sample text and email snippets for salespeople to customize, and associate sales enablement content with each touch, both shareable marketing content, such as case studies and whitepapers, as well as internal educational content, such as training videos. Then the salesperson can use their personality, warmth, and rapport with each prospect to truly personalize each touch and build the relationship.

The module also allows you to build qualifying criteria directly into the workflow. When a prospect doesn’t meet qualification criteria, it should not be moved into the opportunity pipeline. This ensures cleaner data for apples-to-apples comparisons among salespeople and across time, as well as more accurate pipeline forecasting.

The Prospect Engagement Playbooks sit inside the Membrain platform but operate as a separate workflow in front of the pipeline of sales opportunities. This means that salespeople don’t have to switch among platforms to perform different tasks while ensuring that prospecting numbers don’t contaminate important pipeline analytics and forecasts. It’s also the perfect hand-over point to pass the baton from marketing to sales.

This also makes it possible for leaders to analyze prospecting performance in detail as separate from opportunity management, enabling more focused coaching.

We designed and built Membrain and it's modules specifically for the complex b2b sale, where how you sell matters. We would love to show you how it works. Schedule a demo today.

George Brontén
Published September 25, 2019, written by

George Brontén

George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills and processes.

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