By Michael Gunther
Who is your client?
In today’s business climate, there are more hurdles and challenges to obtaining and keeping clients than ever. In an effort of self-preservation, more companies are cutting back. They are reducing costs where they didn’t think possible, they are outsourcing less work, and they are tentative to make decisions involving capital. And there’s nothing more basic than your client: no client, no business.
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 practice on a consistent basis will lead to increased business, even in the most challenging of economies.
Develop your Client Profile
Most businesses overlook this important first step of selling. They may feel that everyone can benefit from their products or services so they market, network, and promote their business to a myriad of audiences and therefore 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 solid 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) and psychographics (buying behaviors, hobbies, beliefs, values)?
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 their ad in Business Week. Wal Mart and Target sell similar products, but have built their client profiles based on different niches: price (Wal Mart) and trend (Target). If you can understand the demographics and psychographics of your targeted clients like these established companies do, you will fully understand your clients buying behaviors, provide products and services more efficiently and quickly, and effectively market to your ideal prospective clients.
Locate New Prospects
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 clients? By answering strategic questions such as these, you can begin channeling your sales time and marketing dollars in a more direct fashion.
A client of ours recently created their client profile and realized that their ideal client typically had high school aged children and lived in specific neighborhoods around town. Based on this information, they were able to target their marketing dollars by sponsoring various high school sporting events and sending direct mail pieces to these precise neighborhoods, and they were also able to adjust their messaging to match the needs of their audience. By making a few strategy changes based on their client profile, they saved money and increased the number of prospective clients.
Bottom Line: A strong sales foundation starts with a strong client profile. Otherwise, you will waste both dollars and time trying to grow your business. And for most business owners and managers, neither of these is in abundant supply.