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One Essential Sales Tool You May Be Missing

Author: Kendra Lee

In my ChannelE2E cold calling article 3 Smart Cold Calling Strategies to Reach Prospects, Jim Barnet, director of sales & marketing with Promys PSA, shared that “sometimes figuring out who not to sell to has the biggest impact on improving sales.” This fundamental sales tenant is often overlooked by sales, marketing, owners and executives in their quest for increased revenue.

“Just sell. We can support anyone. Your goal is to just sell more,” they proclaim.

Revenue objectives rise in an attempt to motivate sales and marketing teams to uncover more leads and sell more of their stuff.  But at the end of each quarter, revenue has risen only slightly.  New account acquisition is flat.

The cause may not be that your sales reps are lazy prospectors. Rather, it could very well be that they are trying too hard – with the wrong prospects.

When you haven’t clearly defined who your ideal target market, you leave it up to your sales and marketing staff to figure it out on their own. And they may not get it right.

How Do You Know if Your Target Market is Clearly Defined?

Take a step back and review the leads in the sales pipeline to see if your sales and marketing team got it right.

  1. When you discover that the new business development sales reps are closing the wrong size, wrong industry or wrong solutions, they didn’t get it right.
  2. When new sales opportunities entering the sales pipeline are not what you want to sell, they didn’t get it right.
  3. When you see lead generation campaigns pulling in leads from the wrong types of companies, or for the wrong types of opportunities, they didn’t get it right

If your sales and marketing team didn’t get it right in all three cases, it’s time to more clearly define your ideal target market.

Is Your Target Market Limiting You?

Your target market isn’t designed to limit what you sell or who you sell to. It’s designed to help you get very focused in your sales, marketing, and service delivery.

  1. Your target market doesn’t have to be an industry vertical. You can have a cross industry target market.
  2. It doesn’t have to be one market. You can have multiple ideal target markets, especially if you are a larger company. One client of ours has one cross industry segment, and within it 4 industry verticals. Another has two cross industry segments of different sizes.
  3. Your target market does have to fit your solutions and the needs your solutions address. Whatever target market you choose, it has to align with the value you are selling and your differentiation.

The more specific you can be, the easier it is for your sales and marketing team to know who you want to do business with, and even more importantly, with whom they do not want to do business.

Using this information, and prospecting sales reps can now disqualify those prospects who aren’t a good fit, saving valuable time selling to the wrong prospect. As they’re gathering requirements, knowing who the ideal customer is helps salespeople ask more effective requirements gathering questions. Sales proposals they create will more accurately reflect the needs of the prospect and the solutions that you want to sell.

Your cost of sales will decrease significantly.

The Negative Impact on Sales

Take Peter’s situation. Peter is a sales rep who gets prospects to the point of closure, but isn’t able to close the sale. Many of his prospects are too small to value the services Peter sells. It isn’t until the end of the sales process that Peter discovers prospects aren’t qualified.

The sales process lingers because prospects are interested, but feel something isn’t right. They can’t articulate what isn’t right. Why? Your solution isn’t a fit. And Peter isn’t able to articulate it either. Without a defined ideal target market, Peter isn’t able to effectively qualify his prospects and wastes his selling time.

Most business owners, salespeople and marketers associate defining their target market as necessary for their lead generation strategy. They don’t realize the impact it has on the full sales process.

So step back. Take time to reevaluate who are you trying to sell to, and ask yourself: Do your sales and marketing team know your ideal target market? Do you?

Target markets aren’t just an exercise for your marketing team. They help your whole sales process operate more efficiently. If you aren’t sure what your target markets are, or you’d like to evaluate them, let us know. We can help.

Kendra Lee is president of KLA Group, which works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment. Read more blogs from Kendra here.

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