Do you know who your ideal client is? Can you define the persona, right down to the age and even ‘name’? Or, do you believe your best clients are some version of the people or businesses you’ve previously served?
Neither is wrong, unless you haven’t asked yourself recently if that client is still your best client.
Things change in business probably faster than they do in life. And let’s be honest, life is nothing like what it was two years ago.
Your best client right now may not be the same as it was two years ago, or even last year. Before you invest in any further marketing or sales, ask yourself who are the people or businesses you can best help right now. Keep in mind that the answer may not be the people who have typically reached out to you for help.
I worked with a firm who had had some luck being the featured provider on a major directory. This led to business, which led to further business in the same industry and so on. They believed that this industry segment was the best possible target for their business.
Except it wasn’t. At least not for the outsourced sales support they hired us to provide.
There is never anything wrong with serving a client who approaches you, provided that you feel they are a good fit and your gut agrees. (See also: 5 Things You Need to Ask Before Saying Yes to a Client). In this case, however, the two industry segments they wanted to target for digital advertising were both on a serious upswing as a direct result of the pandemic. They were so busy they were turning work away. Doesn’t sound like a good market for digital advertising, does it?
My point is that it’s not good enough to define an ideal target client. You have to continually reassess if that client organization is still the organization you can serve best at any given time. Once per year should be often enough for a reassessment, unless you’re in an industry that moves particularly fast.
Then, once you’ve identified who you can serve best right now, do you know the name of the person you need to reach in your sales efforts?
There can often be more than one buyer, especially for complex solutions purchased by large organizations.
There’s the end user who’s experiencing the problem. This is usually your main target.
There can be a technical buyer who confirms the match between specifications and your solution.
And of course, there is a financial buyer who gives budgetary approval.
For B2B proactive selling, Sales Navigator is a great tool to help you identify not only target accounts that match your ideal client profile, but to help you confirm who you should be calling. Unfortunately ‘Decision Maker’ is not an available search term in Sales Navigator!
That means you’ll most typically begin with the end user, the person who is most dramatically impacted by the problem that you solve. You’ll quickly learn from conversations with these people whether you’ll need to also speak with technical or financial buyers as well, but if you’ve made a connection with the end user, you now have a champion within your target account.
Keep in mind that each of these buyer roles have different criteria for decision making and your sales conversation will need to adjust to accommodate that.
In smaller organizations, these buyer roles are often the same person, but you still need to understand how decisions are made. Sometimes operational purchase decisions are made by the COO and sometimes all purchase decisions are made by the CEO. For smaller companies, the CEO is usually a good place to start. She will know whether your solution is worth exploring and who should be involved if it’s not her.
Don’t discount the gatekeepers! I’ve often had great success getting to contacts through receptionists because it’s their job to help people calling the company. Executive assistants can be more difficult to work with, because it’s their job to keep everyone away from their executive. In these cases, it’s always important to remember that you’re wanting to help this company solve a problem, not just ‘sell’ something. The gatekeeper can become your champion if you treat him or her well and make your case for how you can help improve things for his or her organization.
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