Posted by Mike Carroll ● Thu, May 30, 2013 @ 06:05 AM

Building a Profitable Sales Process - Know Your Target

Sales Targets, building effective sales lists, finding prospects to target, Jigsaw, LinkedIn, Reachable, Data.com, Zap Data, Info USA, prospecting, Intelligent Conversations, Mike Carroll, Sales Expert, Milwaukee consultant, Objective Management Group, cold calls, effective prospecting ideasThe first step in building a profitable sales process is to decide where to focus the prospecting efforts of your sales team. Too many sales people (and their sales managers) take an undisciplined approach to defining their ideal targets.
 
As a result reactively pursue whichever opportunities land in their sights (whether or not they are the right opportunities) rather than proactively focusing on the right opportunities (situations that drive profitable revenue).
 
How many of your sales people focus on the wrong opportunities simply because that's what they can easily pursue?

When your sales leaders bring focus and discipline to the proactive prospecting efforts of everyone on your sales team, you'll see a dramatic improvement in their prospecting efficiency and the profitability of the opportunities that enter your sales funnel.

So what can you do about it?  Last week we wrote about the 10 Steps to Building a Profitable Sales Process.
 
The first step is to know your target and here's where you can get our Free Sales Focus Worksheet, a tool your sales leaders can use to facilitate an exercise that will help clarify and focus your sales team's thinking about which opportunities to prioritize and pursue.

When we talk about knowing your target, we really mean "know your target" in three specific ways:
  

  1. Profitable Customers
    Know exactly who your most profitable customers are, what makes them profitable, and precisely how you started the relationship. Not all customers are created equally.
     
    You probably have some customers who don't quite fit your model but they still buy from you and generate revenue.  That's fine since you already have them, but if you can choose where to focus your team why not target the "ideal customers?"  Who are the customers that are an ideal fit for your model and support where you want to go as a company? These are the customers to focus on for this exercise.
      
  2. Prospective Customers
    Know the prospective customers in your market that are similar to your most profitable customers and build a list of every person inside those companies that could have (and truly care about) the problems your product or service can address.
     
    Sometimes it takes three to five conversations to figure out who really cares about the problems you address. Start with the titles and areas of responsibility most like the titles and areas of responsibilities of your most proftitable customers and make sure your sales team is ready to shift their focus as they learn more about the target company.
      
  3. Know Your Customers
    Know your target customers in the true sense of the word - what is important to them, what worries them, what pressures do they face, what does "success" look like to them, what situations create an opportunity to engage them, what do they read, what LinkedIn groups do they join, and so on.
     
    Really know who they are, what is important to them, and how you might be able to help them if they have the problems your product or service can address.  Dave Kurlan writes about the concept of "positioning statements" in his book Baseline Selling.
      
Sometimes sales people will just call to their comfort level.  If they are "comfortable" calling purchasing agents but the purchasing agents your sales people are calling don't care enough about the problems you solve, what good does it do to spend valueable time calling them?

Find out who does care and start calling them.
Maybe it's the engineering manager but your sales people don't like calling that title because they are difficult to reach and a bit prickly when they finally connect.  Make sure your sales people push the boundaries of their comfort zone by calling the person who cares about the problem (and not just the person they are comfortable calling).  
How do you know?  Have them make (and then have your sales manager inspect) a top X list of target accounts. The number of accounts to target will vary based on a number of factors (length of your sales cycle, complexity of the sale, experience of the sales person, etc.). Generally it will range from somewhere between 10 and 50 specific targets. That is a specific person at a specific company you believe can become a profitable customer.
 
Our next article in this series will take a tactical look at building these lists.
  
  
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Topics: Sales Teams, Listening Skills, Cold Calling, sales process, Sales Management, sales manager, Growth Strategies, Creating Urgency

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