By Michael Gunther
No matter what the economic climate looks like now, we’ve learned from the past to always be prepared for the worst. It’s always a good idea to get back to basics and recognize that without your clients, you won’t have your business. There will always be challenges in obtaining and keeping clients, and some companies may practice self-preservation in order to stay afloat.
To get back to basics in regards to sales, we must re-establish the fundamental approach of selling. Sales Is a Science – there are methods and processes that, if put into consistent practice, will lead to increased business, even in the most challenging of economies.
The most important first step in this process is to develop a client profile. Unfortunately, this step is often overlooked since business owners may feel that everyone can benefit from their products or services so they market, network and promote their business to a myriad of audiences. This practice won’t get you new clients; instead, you will waste money and time chasing unsuitable prospects and marketing to uninterested parties. Developing a solid client profile, even creating different profiles for different products or services, is a critical piece to building a sustainable sales system.
A simple method to determine your ideal client profile is to first identify your top 10-20 clients. Then analyze: What do they have in common? Do they drive comparable cars? Do they have similar jobs or hobbies? What are their demographics (age, sex, income, education, geographic reach), psychographics (buying behaviors, hobbies, beliefs, values), and technographics (digital native or digital immigrant, smart device usage, online practices)?
You can look at established companies for examples of how they’ve defined their client profile. For instance, you probably won’t see an ad for a Lexus in Reader’s Digest, but you will see one in Business Week. Walmart and Target sell similar products, but have built their client profiles based on different niches: price (Walmart) and trend (Target). If you can understand the demographics, psychographics and technographics of your targeted audience like these established companies do, you will fully understand your clients’ buying behaviors. This will allow you to provide products and services more efficiently and while effectively marketing to your ideal prospective consumers.
Once you’ve created your client profile, you can begin to strategize how to generate new prospects. Ask yourself questions, such as: What publications do my clients read? What community events are they involved in? Who else knows these clients or sells to these prospects? By answering strategic questions, you can begin channeling your sales time and marketing dollars more directly.
One client of ours created their client profile and realized that their ideal customer typically had high school aged children and lived in specific neighborhoods. Based on this information, they were able to target their marketing dollars by sponsoring high school sporting events and sending direct mail pieces to these precise neighborhoods. In doing so, they were able to adjust their messaging to match the values of their audience. By making a few strategy changes based on their client profile, they saved money and increased the number of prospective clients.
A strong sales foundation starts with a strong client profile. Otherwise, you will waste both dollars and time trying to grow your business. Since neither dollars nor time are in abundant supply for business owners and managers, it’s best to come up with an effective sales strategy supported by strategic research.