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:
- Identifying our ideal profile by reviewing our current client roster
- Acquiring a spot-on list of decision makers at companies that were similar to our "favorite clients"
- 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.
- Revenue paid to your company annually (my company set the threshold at $150,000 per year)
- Tenure as a customer (minimum of one year with your company)
- 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."