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Who Is Your Ideal Customer? Three Simple Ways to Find Your Target Market

by Peter Gracey  |  
August 22, 2012

Determining your target market and acquiring accurate data on your sales prospects may be the most important first steps in developing and managing your long-term sales and marketing strategy, but they are also steps worth repeating to ensure your success. Salespeople must continually evaluate and determine whether those initial assessments were, well, on target.

Unfortunately, the old adage that "a product sells itself" is nothing more than a sales and marketing myth. Products sell in large part because of the due diligence that is completed before the first sales call is made. That means taking the necessary time to create your "ideal customer" profile and then securing a high-end database of prospects and companies that match that profile.

My company, AG Salesworks, took such a course of action two years ago as part of its long-term sales strategy. At the time, we at the company also made a commitment to revisit the process on a quarterly basis to compare the results we'd achieved with the goals we'd established. We went through a very simple three-step process:

  1. Identifying our ideal profile by reviewing our current client roster
  2. Acquiring a spot-on list of decision makers at companies that were similar to our "favorite clients"
  3. Reaching out to the key decision-makers at those companies.

Think of that process as a "how-to guide" for conducting your own internal sanity check on whom you're selling to and where you're finding them.

Step 1: Whom do I love doing business with today?

Your current client roster is the best place to look for determining whom to sell to. Doing so is admittedly a little easier if you are an established company and you have 10 or more customers. For a startup, you'll need to rely more on your gut and past experiences in each category.

Break down your evaluation of clients into the three categories listed below, and then establish your own benchmarks in each category to match your unique business. Listed are my company's categories and benchmarks from two years ago, and they remain the same because the exercise worked.

  1. Revenue paid to your company annually (my company set the threshold at $150,000 per year)
  2. Tenure as a customer (minimum of one year with your company)
  3. Willingness to be a reference for your company in the sales process (yes or no)

Assess each client against those three criteria to create your master list of "best customers."

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Peter Gracey is chief operating officer at AG Salesworks, a B2B teleprospecting and marketing services firm.

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  • by @jpatrickjobs Wed Aug 22, 2012 via web

    Great post. We are recruiters for sales and marketing people in the IT vendor space (I'd imagine our client base overlaps a bit!) and we have a scoring system for clients and individual job orders. Factors include access to decision makers (hiring managers rather than HR only), difficulty to fill, length of interview process, and other factors such as the industry verticals we serve (infosec, videoconferencing, etc.)
    We then try to collect as many of these types of clients as possible, through emails, blogs, linkedin, jigsaw and calling calling calling.
    The phone is still the killer app for recruiting
    Dan Sullivan

  • by Rishi Wed Aug 22, 2012 via web

    I think, as pointed out, the willingness for the client to be a reference during the sales process is really quite important during the sales process. Most sales people don't add this to their client evaluation metrics. It's pretty important to the process of proving your company's successes. Always ask your client if they are willing to back you as a reference if your company does a good job. You wouldn't get a high paying job without previous references, would you? Check out our digital marketing tips and tricks at

  • by Mike Lovas Wed Aug 22, 2012 via web

    With all due respect...

    This piece seems to place great value on demographics. I've loooong been frustrated with marketers who believe demographics equate to a true profile. My firm specializes in psychological marketing, and (in our experience) demographics continually prove to be unimportant beyond the most remedial steps.

    Ultimately, your work comes down to communication, and that means crafting your message to one individual (or one type of individual) at a time. If all you know about him/her is the data listed in the article, you will likely not know how to craft your message so it is an accurate communication. Without some kind of psych profile, you are limited to delivering the same message to everyone - not very accurate.

    But, take heart - if you know the job titles, that gives you a peek into the psychology of the individuals at the target firms.

    Mike Lovas

  • by Pam Didner Wed Aug 22, 2012 via web

    Really enjoy your post, The devil is in scrubbing the data and nurturing the leads.

  • by Thirdy Rosales Wed Sep 5, 2012 via web

    Your next clients and customers could be some of the faceless persons within the crowd that you meet day in and day out. The point of attracting customers is to make them fell that they need your products and services. The old-school practice of giving corporate giveaways may attract customers to some extent. Through these simple items, your company can draw clients and at the same time, retain your branding.

  • by Gwency Radnor Wed Sep 5, 2012 via web

    Very Informative. Thank you for this Peter

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