Questions to Determine Your Ideal Prospect
The golden rule of sales is to:
Spend more time with better prospects
There are seven qualities of a better prospect. Knowing the seven qualities is only half the battle. Here are several questions to ask to help identify your ideal prospect:
- What do you sell?
- Who is my customer?
- Who are my NON customers?
- Why does my customer buy?
- Why doesn’t my customer buy?
- When does my customer buy?
- Where is my prospect?
- Who is my competition?
What do you sell?
Despite the simplicity of this question, this is where an unsuccessful sales person will fail. Unsuccessful sales people will focus on the product or service they are selling. In contrast, a successful sales person will focus on the prospect, and how the product or service will benefit them.
As an example, a dentist provides an array of services including cleanings, cavity care, extractions, etc. However, concentrating on the patient rather than the services would include providing confidence with a brilliant smile, patient comfort with amenities like virtual reality headsets during procedures to relax.
Who is my customer?
Again, do not underestimate the simplicity of this question. But also, do not get too lost in the data. The easiest place to start is basic demographics:
- Income level
- Education level
- Family situation
- Purchasing behavior
- Race, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation
- Annual revenue
- Number of employees
- Number of years in business
- Industry or niche
- Buying process like
- Mission, Vision, Values
- Number of customers
Next, look for the similarities. Think of things like income level, education level or number of employees in ranges. Income can vary between $35k-$50k or number of employees from 25-45 for example. Once the similarities are determined, a customer profile can be created. This is who (or what for B2B) sales people should focus on.
Who are my non-customers?
Sometimes more important than knowing the customer, is knowing who a non-customer is. These are people who could buy the product or service, but never enter the market. Typically, these people or companies are ignored by sales people. However, they can be a huge success, especially since the competition is probably ignoring them as well.
For example, many US-based companies will slightly change their product or service to fit the local customs or norms to attract their non-customers. Or they may offer promotions based on local residents’ holidays or traditions, again if not part of their typical customer base. This can significantly grow a customer base with just small tweaks.
Why does my customer buy?
If it all came down to one element that causes the typical customer to buy the product or service, what is that component? What benefit does the regular or best customer want from their purchase?
Again, look for the similarities. Remember, customers will word this differently. For example, software buyers may describe increased efficiency, automation or productivity, which all means the software saved them or their team time and effort in doing tasks.
Why doesn’t my customer buy?
Once again, flip the previous question to determine why people don’t buy. Too expensive? Too difficult? Missing a competitive feature? Knowing this information and addressing it early in the sales process can help make sure time is not wasted if this issue is a deal breaker. Also, it may provide an opportunity to make an adjustment to the product or service if this is a common issue. Lastly, sometimes simply addressing it early can provide respect and comfort level with the prospect to have a successful sales process.
When does my customer buy?
Knowing when the customer buys is potentially just as important as to why they buy. Seasonal businesses can have the dual problem of timing as well as relying on high seasons to carry through the low seasons. Time this incorrectly and it can be detrimental to the whole business.
Recent trends have shown consumers looking for seasonal items earlier. Some of this has been a result of stores opening on Thanksgiving for the pre-Black Friday sales. Or Back to School sales happening in late July versus August. Keeping up on trends as well as consumer data is key. Plus, it hurts less to be early versus late being seasonal.
Where is my prospect?
Prospects and customers have so many more places to be than in decades past. There are now many more choices of television stations, radio stations, websites, social platforms, etc. And, of course, people do not use just one of these outlets, but sometimes all of them, to help make buying choices.
Understanding the journey is important to know how and when to attract customers. In addition, networking and referrals are still a very effective approach in finding prospects and turning them into customers.
Who is my competition?
Focusing on who the prospect may consider as an alternative to purchase from and why is an important step to the process. Put the focus on the prospect and why they may or do purchase from the competitor. And base this on facts, not perception. Most people have a biased view of their competition. In order to gather this information, ask the prospect during the buying process, and after if they decide to go with a competitor. The information you gather from a sales post-mortem can be invaluable. Remember the lesson, not the mistake.
Builds confidence in sales team
Part of human nature is the fear of failure. Imagine a sales person making cold calls or networking without answers to the above questions to determine the ideal prospect. That is an overwhelming amount of rejection they could be facing. Now imagine the sales person who has identified the ideal prospect, also making cold calls, but only to those that have been identified as an ideal prospect. Or the sales person is participating in networking events where the ideal prospects attend. Less rejection. And certainly a few successes. One successful interaction can raise their confidence level, thus overcoming the fear of rejection, making a more powerful sales person.
While determining the ideal prospect will take some time and a considerable effort, the payoff will be exponential. Focusing sales efforts on those most likely to purchase will allow for more time with each prospect developing meaningful relationships, honing the sales process producing faster sales and a growing prospect list. Ultimately this leads to generating more revenue and growing a business.
If this process seems daunting, or you simply want guidance, David Fisher can help. Contact David today for an initial call.