The first thing that we focus on understanding when we work with a business is what we call the “ideal client profile.” There are other names for this like, “target buyer persona” but the main point is that we try to determine the types of prospects that will move most quickly through a sales process as well as the prospects that become the most successful customers.
We know that if we fully understand who is most likely to use and benefit from our services, then we will be more successful in our sales efforts. If you are reaching out to the right people, in the right ways, at the right time, you are likely to grow your business. The ultimate goal is to “nail a niche,” as referred to in an excellent book about creating predictable revenue called, “From Impossible To Inevitable.” The concept is that once you have acquired ten legitimately paying customers from sources completely outside of your warm network, you have successfully found a solid prospect profile.
To get started, you simply have to GET STARTED. Most of the businesses that we meet with are spending too much time analyzing customer segments before making a phone call, sending an email, or knocking on a door. Think of the search for an ideal client profile as an experiment and your approach as the scientific method(link to a web page that shows the scientific method. Keep it simple and use the reasonable portion of your brain to create a hypothesis to test. Then get started with the following steps.
Step 1 → Build A List
The first thing to do is build a list of your best guess at who your target audience should be. The first list that we ever built was from the website, “AngelList.” Check out how brilliant this is – we believed that our target audience was startups and early stage companies who were looking to hire new salespeople. The tagline for AngelList is, “where the world meets startups.” Wow.
Step 2 → Build A Controlled Sales Campaign With Goals
Set up an organized process that you will go through with these prospects. This includes how many calls, emails, social media pings, etc. you are going to throw at them over a certain period of time. It’s critical that everything you say and send remains constant so that you can feel confident that your results aren’t caused by other variables (i.e. use the scientific method). Also make sure that you are tracking everything possible about how the campaign performs. For example, how many appointments did you set? How many people said no? What objections did you get? How many people really weren’t prospects?
Step 3 → Build Another List That Is Slightly Different
Do the same thing you did in Step 1 but this time pick out one characteristic of the prospects that you want to focus in on. For example, we started with a very general list of startups on AngelList and basically called anybody. Then we kept hearing the same objection about, “not having any money but raising money soon” or some variation of that. In other words, all these companies were not a real prospect for us. As a result, we cross-referenced the prospects on AngelList with other websites that let us know which companies had definitely been funded and used this new list for our next test.
Step 4 → Compare Results and Never Stop Experimenting
Compare the results of different lists to see if you find positive correlations from the one change that you made. A lot of people think selling is an art but they are wrong. Selling is a science and you will begin to gain more control over your business if you start thinking of it as such. As you get deeper and deeper into understanding your ideal client profile, don’t forget to continually experiment along the way.
It’s unlikely that you’re ever going to get this so “right” that you can put sales on complete autopilot and not pay attention to it. The market evolves every single day and new challenges and opportunities will present themselves frequently. Using the scientific method to manage these constant changes and really understand your prospects and customers will bring more clarity to your revenue forecast and your overall business strategy.