Most sales professionals can’t afford to waste time, energy and resources on introducing products and services to an unresponsive market. In fact, there are many sales organizations that work very hard getting average results even with a competitive product and service offering.
Why is this?
One answer might be that their organization is calling on the wrong accounts. One of the greatest inefficiencies within sales organizations occurs when sales producers waste valuable resources by spending time on low-potential prospects. A low-potential prospect is an organization that simply can’t provide your company with the profitability and/or momentum you strive to achieve while providing your products and/or services.
Sales organizations gain momentum by maximizing their return on investment of time. They do this by focusing their sales resources on the prospects that are clearly the greatest fit for the products and services they provide. These target clients and prospects fit the ideal client profile.
The ideal client profile is the result of data-driven analysis that ultimately leads an organization to an accurate description of the characteristics that clearly describe their best and most profitable clients.
In search of your ideal client profile, apply the 80/20 rule (also known as the Parieto Principle). Identify the 20 percent of your clients that provide you with 80 percent of your results and momentum. There is great value in doing this analysis. It will provide your organization with an ability to focus your business on the best possible targets, eliminating wasted resources within the sales and marketing organizations.
The goal of this analysis is to more clearly define which customers provide your organization with the greatest return on investment.
Define the characteristics of your ideal client profile
1) Industry sector
2) Public, private company and/or family owned
3) Number of employees
4) Company size (total revenue)
5) If private company, number of partners (if more than one)
6) Progressive management team (or not)
7) Geographic reach (local, regional, national, international)
8) Customer demographics (age, gender, educational, income level, etc.)
9) Location of their customers
10) Level of quality they require
11) Level of service they require
12) Speed of delivery required
13) Size of average sale
Targeting the ideal client
The above target is designed to reflect all possible prospects within a given industry (both ideal clients and non-ideal clients). The bull’s eye is representative of an organization’s ideal client profile. Less-experienced sales organizations will view the entire target as fertile territory. The experienced sales organization views only the bull’s eye as fertile ground.
All of the dollar signs within the bull’s eye represent sales and marketing resources directed at the prospects that match the organization’s ideal client profile. All of the X’s represent sales and marketing resources directed at prospects that do not match the organizations ideal client profile.
Spending sales and marketing resources outside of the bull’s eye (the ideal client profile) is an inefficiency that often times gets overlooked by management and owners within companies.
The goal of the experienced sales manager is to get his or her entire sales team focused on selling to prospects that match the organization’s ideal client profile. To accomplish this, an organization must master the task of getting all of its sales and marketing resources focused on the bull’s eye. As an organization begins to shift its sales and marketing focus toward its ideal client profile, its revenue will begin to grow steadily with no additional investment required from a sales and marketing perspective.
This type of analysis and focus is critical if your organization wants to work smarter, not harder. At first, it may seem difficult to identify the characteristics that best describe your ideal clients.
To assist you in evaluating the characteristics shared by your ideal clients, develop a matrix listing the names of your top 20 clients, along with all the characteristics shared by these clients. Once this information has been captured, then the analysis begins. Remember that you are looking for trends, so complete and total accuracy is not critical. Reasonable accuracy can be just as effective in providing you with the insight necessary for improving the focus of your sales and marketing efforts.
Philip Mydlach is owner of Mydlach Management Advisors, a corporate planning and performance improvement consulting practice in New Berlin. He can be reached at 262-785-5552 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 23, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI