I was on a call with a few marketing principals and the subject of prospect/list volume came up.

They were in the position of having an abundance of work with one (large) client, a very smart, talented mid-size firm, and wanted to be selective about what they went after.

I mean, really selective, like potentially turn down a $1M+ project for a Fortune 500 company if it wasn’t the right fit.

1) That’s an awesome place to be, yes?

2) Whatever position your firm is in, you should be selective in terms of fit, saying no to prospects when necessary is a very good place to be.

Now, having said both those things, the path this firm is going down, in terms of new business, is not so much a path but a tightwire, and one they could slip off of if not careful.

Why?

Their goal is to have 20 or so Fortune 500/100 ideal prospects they’ll obtain business from within a year. So far so good, reasonable.

But that’s all they’re thinking about going after over the course of a year. They were open to listening to alternatives by the way, for the record, but essentially that’s the current thinking.

I don’t want to come off with any snark here, because I do get it, initially: they want to manage growth and add not just another client, but another top-tier client. But here’s why narrowly limiting your entire prospect pool is a bad idea:

-All that business with the one client could go away tomorrow. Okay, maybe not tomorrow, but you can’t lose sight of the possibility.

-New business is a numbers game, to an extent. For example, at Launch, we go after a targeted list of prospects, every month, while continuing to go after those prospects uploaded the previous month. There’s nothing wrong with going after more prospects at a given time BTW, but your messaging needs to be targeted and value-based initially.  Once you get some initial warms/hots is when you personalize further in those situations.

-If you’re only going after 20 or so clients, you’re probably only going after one person/title at that company, possibly more given that these would be larger companies, but how often are you going to touch them? You will quickly alienate them with too many touches because. . . (see below)

-You can’t force your prospects to work with you or manufacture opportunities. Doesn’t matter how good your firm is, if the timing isn’t right, you’ll be waiting until it is.

And there you’ll sit, waiting and wondering why those 20 companies aren’t working with you, while your competitors take those $1M+ projects you didn’t want.