In the 20+ years that I have been working with sales professionals one of the biggest mistakes I see over and over and over again are sales professionals that spend far too much time and too much energy chasing inappropriate prospects. There is nothing more dispiriting than chasing a lead only to find out after repeated phone calls, voice mail messages, emails and introductions from LinkedIn contacts that this person you’ve so desperately been trying to reach has no budget, no need and no interest.
So how do you avoid this sales trap that catches so many? By targeting your market.
Before starting any type of lead generation, prospecting or marketing campaign it is imperative to create a profile of the ideal prospect you are trying to reach. What that means is that out of everyone in the entire world who might buy what you sell, who is most likely to? And who is most likely to buy a lot of what you sell and then keep returning to buy more?
Describe this ideal customer in specific detail. Use criteria like:
- What industry?
- Where are they located?
- What is the title of the decision-maker?
- What challenges or issues does this market have that your product or service can solve?
- Where does your ideal prospect live?
- Where does your ideal prospect work?
- Are they married or single?
- What is their income level?
In business-to-business calls make sure to only call the highest-level person you believe is the decision-maker. If that person is not the decision-maker, they’ll be able to tell you who is. Far too many sales professionals waste their time calling too low. They do this with the idea that somehow the calls will be easier. They won’t. This will simply waste your time and extend your sales cycle. If you are not speaking with a decision-maker, you are not speaking with a qualified prospect. If you are not speaking with a qualified prospect, they will never buy from you.