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Sales Tip - Who Are Your Ideal Customers?

Is your sales funnel full of prospects that you are unlikely to close, or if you did win would turn out to be unprofitable?

Why not identify who your ideal customers are and focus your time and resources where you'll get the highest return. The closer a prospect is to your Ideal Customer Profile, the better the fit, the easier the sale. The further away you get from this ideal fit, the more problems are likely to occur at some point with the account. Increase your probability of success, by first identifying who to target.

Ask yourself these questions in order to create your Ideal Customer Profile.

1. Who are my most satisfied clients? The only way to target an Ideal Customer is to have a clear picture of them. Make a list of the clients that not only use your product or service, but do so with passion. These are your advocates and will also be the ones that provide you with the most referrals.

2. Are they easy to work with? The difficult prospect can become the difficult client. Make certain you have shared values and your goals are aligned. As business consultants, we look for companies that place a high value on investing in their people. It's important to our mutual success that the systems, and processes, we put in place will be supported.

3. Do they have the potential to be profitable? When I was selling radio, I called on a plastic surgeon that performed a myriad of services, but only wanted to promote blepharoplasty, eyelid surgery. This procedure, while not the most expensive in his repertoire, was the most profitable for his business. Profitably was determined by how many customers chose it, the price point of the procedure, and how many procedures he could execute in a week. The doctor had identified his Ideal Customer Profile and marketed only to that individual -- quite successfully.

4. Why do they buy from you? Ask your clients why they chose to do business with you over a competitor. Why do they continue to do business with you? What could you improve upon? Not only does this make perfect sense, your clients will be flattered to know that you care enough to ask and that you don't take their business for granted.

5. How are they similar? Is there a sector, or category, that consistently does well with your business? Look for commonalities amongst your most satisfied customers, such as need, length of sales cycle, seasonality, size and industry. Study the core client demographics of age, gender, income level, and education. Don't just look at your client base, but access those of your entire organization.

6. Who were the key stakeholders involved? Each sale is unique, but more often than not you will deal with multiple stakeholders. Not everyone who wants to do business with you will have the authority to do business with you. Study a cross-section of your accounts and note which stakeholders you dealt with most effectively, and how this influenced your closing rate. These stakeholders could be anyone from HR to the CEO.

Now take all this information and create an Ideal Customer Profile ranking these criteria in order of importance. Use this "Profile" to ask intelligent questions and qualify opportunities early on in the sales cycle, saving you time and focusing your efforts.

Source: Theresa Merrill, Director of Business Development at marketing consulting firm Anovick Associates