Better Call Saul -- the popular new prequel series to legendary TV drama Breaking Bad -- follows the misadventures of Jimmy McGill (the legal name of Breaking Bad’s “criminal lawyer” Saul Goodman), a smooth-talking but ethically challenged and financially struggling lawyer who keeps trying to do the right thing, but in the wrong way or for the wrong reasons. The show is funny, poignant and smart, but it’s not just a compelling character study and suspenseful legal drama -- Better Call Saul also has some surprising lessons to offer entrepreneurs about lead generation.
One of the early episodes shows a moment where Jimmy is strapped for cash and desperate for new business. So he decides to do an elaborate PR stunt that gets him featured on local TV news. While Jimmy thinks that this will get him the influx of new clients that he’s been hoping for, he ultimately realizes that his marketing efforts are attracting all of the wrong kinds of people.
Here are a few lessons in business-to-business lead generation from Better Call Saul:
1. Not all sales leads are "good" sales leads.
Jimmy is excited to get his business featured on TV and his phone starts ringing with new client inquiries, but he quickly realizes that many of these new clients are a terrible fit for his business -- they're mostly crackpots, delusional inventors and time-consuming small clients (in one episode, Jimmy spends an agonizingly slow meeting waiting to get a client to agree to pay $140 for him to write a will). Instead of casting a wide net in B2B lead generation, it's better to focus on a few key categories of clients who you know that you are a good fit.
2. Qualify sales leads before the meeting.
Jimmy wasted time and money by meeting in person with unqualified prospects -- only to realize too late that they were a bad fit and that he wouldn’t want to work with them. Don't make this mistake. Qualify your sales leads over the phone (by asking questions, getting to know more about them, etc.) before an in-person meeting is set up.
3. Relationships matter more than transactions.
Jimmy is frustrated with doing low-paying public defender work -- he only gets a flat fee of $700 per trial, no matter how complex and time-consuming that trial might be. He fights hard for his clients, even in the most hopeless cases, but he can never seem to get ahead.
Related: 10 Ways to Quickly Generate Leads
Jimmy's older brother Chuck, a successful and experienced lawyer, tells him to "do good work, and the clients will follow." Chuck advises Jimmy to build a network of relationship-based referrals, as this will be a stronger foundation than any one-off PR stunt. Instead of focusing on one-off transactions, build relationships for longer-term success.
4. Know how many clients you need.
If Jimmy is going to create a thriving business, doing wills for $140 each isn’t going to cut it. Know your average deal size. Figure out your revenue goals, estimate your conversion rates at each stage of your sales process, and from there, work your way backwards to calculate how many new sales leads you need to obtain to meet your quotas.
5. Find the right decision-makers.
People who respond to billboards might not be the best candidates for what you sell. Jimmy let himself get bogged down by too many people who were not legitimate, deep-pocketed clients with the ability to pay for high-value services. Instead of taking phone calls from anyone and everyone off the street, Jimmy should have devoted his time to networking his way into some better-paying opportunities.
6. Protect your brand.
Instead of listening to his brother, Jimmy tries to do things his own way, with a bit of "showmanship," as he calls it. In the end, he starts down a path where instead of being a respectable "real" lawyer, he ends up as a corrupt (but lovable) "criminal" lawyer whose clients enlist his help in their schemes.
B2B sales is all about reputation. Sometimes saying "no" to the wrong client is just as important as closing a sale with the "right" clients. Protect your personal brand, and it will help protect you for many years to come.