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Secure Your Prospect Base—Send in the Marines

by Kathryn Roy  |  
May 18, 2010

Working with a new client company to clarify its differentiation and to strengthen its messaging, I asked a basic question: How many prospects are there?

The Mystery of the Shrinking Prospect List

The first response was "All the hospitals in the US—almost 6,000." Soon I learned that hospitals were increasingly consolidating into integrated delivery networks (IDNs)—groups of two or three to more than 100 hospitals operating under one umbrella. That perspective reduced the real number of targets to some 1,500 organizations.

While testing possible positioning (differentiating) messages with prospects, I learned that my client was selling its solution in a maturing market—most hospitals had committed to a technology choice and were not swayable.

Accordingly, somewhere between 50 and 150 IDNs—say 100—would be open to choose my client's solution based on its strengths. Such small numbers look scary until you think about the average deal size: $1 million.

Arming for Battle

The number of target prospects had plummeted quickly from 6,000 to 1,500 to 100. But we weren't sure which 100 of the 1,500 were the right prospects.

The size of your target market should heavily influence the marketing tactics you employ. Obviously, broadcast marketing would be highly inefficient in my client's case.

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Kathryn Roy is managing partner of Precision Thinking (, a consulting firm helping B2B technology companies boost the effectiveness of their marketing and sales organizations. Reach her via or Twitter (@karoy1).

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  • by Don Li Tue May 18, 2010 via web

    Thought provoking.

    I'd summed it up with Identifying 1 Key Problem (Max 2) and #1 top gun (if not available from within, hire a new one consultant or employee, got to have someone who ROCKS!), SEND him/her IN.

  • by Barbara Bix Tue May 18, 2010 via web

    Great article Kathryn!

    I also find that the single most important thing most companies could do to boost profitiability is to whittle their "target audience" down to the most promising prospects. They could then:

    * Afford to gain deeper insights into what, how, and when this smaller group of prospects prefers to buy.

    * Tailor their solutions and hone their marketing messages to better address these organizations' needs

    * Invest in the marketing programs required to nurture these important accounts at every step of their buying process

    * Get a clearer picture of what's working and what isn't because the target population is more homogenous

    * Save precious sales and marketing resources otherwise spent reaching out to those that are less likely to buy.

    While these principles are marketing basics, so many companies skip over them to their peril.

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