Let’s continue our discussion about why you should tighten your market focus.
In this post, we’re going to make a big counter-intuitive leap. You don’t need more leads; you need to stop wasting your time selling to prospects that won’t ever buy.
Here’s how –
Quit selling to prospects that aren’t in your sweet spot.
Stop chasing deals that you’re not going to get.
Focus on what we’ll call your “ideal prospect.”
In my last post I said that your value proposition only works in the tight market segment you are focusing on. The next step is to focus even tighter by defining your “ideal prospects” – the companies in that segment that are most likely to agree with your value proposition and buy your product. Here are some ways to think about who your ideal prospects might be:
Your best current customers should be the model for your ideal prospect. After all, they are the ones that are receiving value from you now. There will be a lot of differences between them, but I’ll bet you’ll find a group of them that are very similar. Focusing on their similarities will give you a good start on your ideal customer definition.
You should also think about a number of other factors as you narrow your focus. For instance, what geography do you want to cover? Are you better at working with large companies or small companies? Where have you built really exceptional expertise in delivering your product? Where do you have the best competitive advantage? Be very specific in your answers – “Within 50 miles of a major airport in the 11 Western states” is better than “Western US” for a geographic definition.
The goal is to be very specific in defining a set of criteria that identify prospective customers who are most likely to understand and agree with your value proposition. You can build a list of companies who are high-probability prospects, and the list will also become a tool that allows you to quickly qualify incoming leads and pick out the ones that you want to concentrate on.
The payoff for spending all this effort is that you maximize your use of your sales resource. Every minute spent with a prospect who ultimately does not buy because they don’t see the value of your offering is a minute that could have been better spent with one of the high- probability prospects you have defined – and these wasted minutes can add up to huge lost opportunity costs.
Now comes the hard part. To make this work, you must stop selling to anyone who doesn’t fit the ideal prospect criteria. You have do this even though you see a potential big deal, and the prospect is telling you they like your product, and you aren’t meeting your sales goals this quarter, and you don’t have another good “sweet spot” prospect right now. You have to walk away and focus your sales efforts on the set of ideal prospects you have defined. Why? Because you’re going to lose a high percentage of the deals that you chase that don’t fit the profile, and you can’t afford to do that. You must spend your selling time with your high-probability prospects where your closing percentages will be much higher. You are better off prospecting for these high-probability deals than you are chasing the low-probability ones.
Here’s the important point: A tight focus on prospects that fit your value proposition will provide you significantly more sales than chasing a larger number of prospects that don’t see your value. Doing this takes exceptional discipline, but it will pay off big time.
For more detail about how this works, see Chapter 2 of my book, “Small Changes.”
And as always, I welcome your comments and your ideas.