Who Are You Looking For?


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Despite what you believe or think about your future clients, “anybody who…” is not the best place to begin to define your future clients or your ideal prospect. For “anybody who…” becomes a generic description that few people, including you, really understand. Worse yet, this is usually so broad and generalist a description that almost anybody, hence nobody, is ever identified as a great prospect. You cannot fish in the ocean without knowing exactly what you want to catch.

The first component of an effective prospecting process is clearly defining exactly who you want to connect to – who are you looking for?

The answer to this question exists within your existing business relationships and is found in your current selling successes. It is from your existing client relationships and your most recent successes that you are able to identify and articulate who you want to do business with. Choose your future client relationships like you choose your friends – find, connect, and convert the people most likely to share the same values, interests, goals, and professionalism you do. Those are the organizations and people that will mostly likely embrace your value, respect and appreciate the relationship, realize the benefits of your offering, and offer a lasting, loyal and beneficial professional experience.

When choosing your friends, you do not simply spend quality time with “anybody who likes me.” No, you spend time with people that you enjoy hanging out with, who share common interests and values with you, who appreciate your friendship, and who provides some mutually beneficial connection in the process. You choose your friends this way because it is the most productive, lasting, and enjoyable experience for the two of you. Besides, as friends, you simply get along.

If you choose your friends this way, why wouldn’t you choose your future clients this way? Everyone has great clients in their business portfolios. Everyone has great sales successes that we desire to celebrate more of. It is from these successful experiences and business relationships that we define our target market. Like our friends, every one of our best customers or customer experiences offer very common, similar, and quantifiable aspects to them. When you start to list those traits and characteristics, you will discover the commonalities to all of your best relationships.

It is these traits and characteristics that will help you define your target customer. Instead of saying “anybody who…” you will be able to identify the qualities, traits, features of the clients that you best enjoy and celebrate a great relationship with. Your target prospects now become the businesses and individuals that best reflect these traits and characteristics are your target prospect. Once you have developed your target list you are now able to focus your prospecting efforts on those organizations that reflect your best existing relationships and you will become very efficient at finding more of them.

One word of caution as you define and develop these descriptive characteristics – focus on traits and characteristics that go beyond merely size, market, revenues, industry, etc. Again, you do not define the people you are friends with by how much money they make, how many children they have, etc. You define them by the values, the interests, their connection to you, and the experiences associated with the friendship. Work those same descriptors into the definition of your ideal client, as well.

In summary, here is the process for defining your ideal target market:

  1. List: Make a list of your best client relationships and most recent successful and celebrated selling outcomes.
  2. Qualities: Alongside each of these clients, identify the characteristics of this relationship or success that you value, appreciate, enjoy or the aspects of this relationship that makes it a good one.
  3. Trends: Consolidate the qualities identified and look for consistencies and repeats. There is always a thread of commonality to all our valued relationships – identify the threads here.
  4. Describe: From the list, the business trends, and your experience create a definition of your ideal customer. This definition now becomes the way you articulate, define, and look for your future prospects. Remember, your ideal customer is also your ideal prospect.

Once you have discovered how to define and describe your future clients, the next step in the process is to begin to think through their issues, needs, and challenges so you can being to develop your strategy for connecting with and conversing with them. (Next week’s blog.)

Dave Cooke has written an e-book “Don’t Waste Your Time Prospecting” which focuses on the strategy, process, and behaviors necessary for effective prospecting in this current economic environment. This post is an excerpt from that book. To obtain your copy of this e-book, simply email Dave Cooke to request your complimentary copy.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Cooke
I leverage my 25 years experience in sales and marketing to create and implement strategic initiatives and develop educational programs that increase both revenues and profits. I take great pride in my experience in turbulent, chaotic, and transitional work environments. It is from these experiences that I have developed my commitment to collaborative teams, strong internal and external relationships, effective communication, decisive leadership, and a cohesive, collaborative strategy as keys to sustainable revenue growth.


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