The ultimate secret to getting qualified leads: “Thirsty horses”

Date: November 6, 2022
Author: Kristin Zhivago
drinking horse

There’s an old saying, going back centuries: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” One of my very smart clients said he had a mentor who quoted that old saying, but then added, “This is why I always look for thirsty horses.” I’ve been smiling about that ever since. I realized that’s why our company is able to be so successful in our quest to bring qualified leads to our clients: all of our team members are thirsty horses, and all of our clients are thirsty horses. 

We are all willing to learn from customers. We never stop questioning, striving to understand, and adjusting our methods and messages so that our clients’ customers get what they’re looking for. 

And we are completely in tune with those customer Mindsets. In my Guide to Mindset-Driven Marketing, I define the customer’s Mindset when they set out to buy as a combination of their desires, concerns, and questions. In my experience, nothing matters more than a customer’s Mindset—it’s what you should be focusing on, more than “personas” or industry trends. 

If you are the seller in your market who accurately and obviously addresses your customers’ Mindset when they come to your site or product/service listing, you are going to be the company most likely to make the sale. 

Finding thirsty horses (truly qualified leads)

Of course, all this assumes that there are people out there who want what you have to sell. These are your thirsty horses. If no one wants what you have to sell, no amount of “leading the horse to water” is going to work. 

So the first thing you must determine, either starting up a company or developing a new product or service, is whether there is a customer base for what you have to sell. You do this in a way that is similar to the successful method for selling an existing product: you interview the people who might have a need that your product or service can fill. You ask them open-ended questions, as revealed in chapter 3 of my book, to learn what their desires, concerns, and questions are. Of course you also do competitive research, learning which companies are attracting customers to related offerings, and what is working for them. 

Most of our clients lead companies that are fairly established in the market. They have customers and competitors. This makes it easier to uncover the buyer’s Mindset. Customers who have bought from you are hoping you will continue to be around, in case they want to buy from you again, and so are willing to invest a little time on your behalf. If approached correctly, a phone interview (a recorded audio-only Zoom interview is actually best) can be set up, and the interview can take place. By the 3rd call, you will see some Big Trends, and by the 5th to 7th call, there will be no doubt in your mind what the customer desires, concerns, and questions are; what they wish you would do, and what you could do better; how they see you compared to your competition; the best ways to attract and retain them; and more. 

They will also tell you what makes them “thirsty horses,” where they’d expect to find you when they went looking, and what they would hope you would say to them. 

In other words, they will lay out the roadmap you should follow to attract other thirsty horses just like them. 

This method is ridiculously obvious, when you think about it, but it is the rare (enlightened) company that uses this method. That’s good for you, because if you do use this method, you will be miles ahead of the people who are still throwing spaghetti on the wall. 

One of the saddest aspects of marketing is how much money you can spend before you realize you’re never going to bring in enough qualified leads to stay in business using those methods. This is the number one reason that companies come to us for help. “I tried X and it didn’t work,” they say, “And now we’re running out of time.” 

Our job, then, is to help them find those thirsty horses, the ones who have already willingly “taken a drink,” interview them, and come back with two reports: one containing everything everyone said in answer to our questions (fascinating reading for our clients!) and one that summarizes our findings and recommends next steps. We also do extensive competitive and keyword/clickthrough research, of course. 

This information makes next steps refreshingly obvious. We will know what the customer’s buying process is, and which channels they’d go to, expecting to find you. We know which keywords they’d type into Google if they used Google to find you. We know why they bought from you and the exact phrases they use to describe what you sell and what they like about it. We also know which aspects of the product, service, or business we need to focus on in the background because it needs attention.

No more guessing, no more wasting money, time, resources, and market opportunity. Just a satisfying flow of qualified leads, and the revenue growth that comes from converting those leads into a sale. 

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