Estimated Read Time: 7 Minutes
From scheduling meetings with prospects to following up with clients and suppliers for orders, distributors are swamped. It’s easy to get caught up in the grind and lose sight of some key aspects to prospecting and sales.
Even the Sales 101 tactics that we all (or certainly the majority) agree upon get buried under tasks, meetings, and client communication.
Now, we all know prospecting is a crucial part of your sales funnel. However, it tends to be more than just time-consuming. There is waste –wasting time and energy. Which, time is one of our most limited resources. So wasting time and effort on a prospect that is not worth it is not only a time-suck but is also damaging to you and your company.
So let’s use a rifle bullet to target the prospects you want, rather than using the exhausting shot-gun approach.
Organize Your Prospects Early
It might sound counter-intuitive, but organizing and funneling your prospects early will save you time and effort.
By taking the least qualified leads out of your pipeline and narrowing your prospects into more qualified leads that make sense for you and your business, you increase the likeliness of closing the sale with less wasted effort. Weeding out the unnecessary and distracting prospects and just focusing on the prospects and leads that make the most sense for you and your business, you will waste less time and effort.
Segmenting Prospects: Definitions
However, before we delve into how to organize your prospects; we need to define two terms – Profile and Persona.
Profile – Developing a company profile means defining the types of businesses that are in your “sweet spot;” whether that’s a key industry for you, a particular mindset, or a specific list of capabilities. In this blog we will go over defining some of those characteristics for you, which vary by salesperson and company, but in this definition, a profile is not a person, but businesses whose needs are met by your product/service and will give value to your company.
Persona – Unlike the Profile, a Persona is defining a key player or person. Personas are fictional, generalized characteristics that encompass the various needs, goals, and observed behavior patterns among your real and potential customers. This is to help you understand your customers and key players better and who you should be targeting the most.
Building a Prospect Profile
Here is a simplified how-to. If you would like a more in-depth one, please check out this blog by The Whole Brain Group.
1. Write out characteristics for your “perfect client.” List 4-6 items that define the perfect business that you want to work with, this can be due to budget, size, industry, location, or other particular attributes.
2. On a different sheet of paper, list your top clients and the ones you feel you can grow. Write out the biggest and the best, as well as the ones who have growth potential. You can put a line between the two if you want – the big clients versus the ones who can grow. But be sure to be listing the good clients with great sales and not the “time sucks!”
3. Now, looking at that list of clients, consider what makes them so special and perfect for you and your business.
4. List 4-6 characteristics that overlap (besides buying from you) between your clients.
5. Compare the “perfect client” list to your current client characteristics list. Do the two lists align? Do your current clients match up with your “perfect client?”
7. Develop a Profile on what a target business looks like based on your lists. Consider what you want and need to be targeting based on what hits your preferred customer so you won’t waste your time.
No one can build this for you. Every company is (and should be) different, and so are your customers. Not all solutions and services fit all business needs, so what makes you and your clients special? Why are you the perfect pairing?
By defining the target businesses that are perfect for your business, you can weed out the “time-wasters.” To grow your business and sales, it’s best to target businesses that are not only worth your time, but ones which you can help each other shine.
Building a Persona for Prospecting
When prospecting, you might meet a particular person who is interested in your services or create an advocate for yourself in the business you are targeting. Both are people you want to connect with and assist. However, as you sell, you discover that your advocates, connections, contacts, clients, and decision-makers might be different people.
As you go along, you discover that each have different roles, personalities, resources, and “pain points.”
For a more detailed guide to creating a sales/marketing persona, read this Xtensio blog, in the meantime, here is a shortened guide to developing a Persona.
1. Define your top clients; this can be the same list as before in the Profile development, step 2. List your top clients. The ones that are worth your time and energy.
2. Now, take a look at who you interact with at those companies. You can write them all out if you need. Do you have one contact per company? Do you work with a group? Do you have a main contact, but they always have to run it by their boss?
Also, remember how you got your foot in the door at the company. Who do you work with now? Looking back, what was the best way to work with that company, who should you have gone directly to?
3. After writing out your contacts, segment all of them by commonalities. Ignore the company separation. Do most of your contacts work in the Marketing Department? Did you mostly meet your advocates at BNI meetings? Do they have specific pain-points that you solve? Look at characteristics and start to put them in “Common Columns.” Typically, personas are separated by common job titles or duties.
4. Once you have separated everyone into columns, start delving in a little further on what defines that column. What makes them tick? Why do they go to work each day? What are their goals, obstacles, and typical objections? Where do they go for information?
An in-depth Persona-creation will typically require an interview so you aren’t biased and guessing. However, for a general overview here, you can just write what you know.
5. Under each column, write out as much as you know about each of these groups, from their obstacles and pain-points, all the way to preferred form of contact. Everything you know that makes sense for that group.
6. After you have listed out under each column of your connections and contacts, review that your summaries make sense for your various people. Yes? Then you are almost finished. Now you just have to name them.
Usually position is what connects these personas because that’s what also summarizes their pain points, obstacles, watering holes, and so on. So, you can come up with easy to remember fictional names to represent each segmented column.
Examples: Management Mike, Marketing Manager Melissa, HR Helen, Decision-Maker Margret, Department Manager Dan, Owner Oakley, or Office Manager Oliver.
7. Rewrite your personas and their summaries on a clean sheet of paper. Clean it up to be easy to read and look at.
8. Now, do your personas make sense and reflect properly on who you target? Take a look at each of your personas and consider if there is a smart way to target the personas that you actually need to be talking to.
These personas are a nice way to take a step back and evaluate how you’ve been communicating and engaging with your clients, connections, and prospects. Consider who you need to be reaching out to when prospecting and what can help ramp up your marketing when targeting key players.
Is one of your target personas an avid member of your local Chamber of Commerce? So it’s better for you to invest your time and energy into that group rather than a local advertising membership. Does your main target audience/persona want to learn more about marketing and leadership? Then you know you can post articles and tips for those topics on your social and blog. Is cold-calling part of your sales process? Take a look at your personas to see who you need to be targeting when you call.
When Out Prospecting
Do you see the benefits of consolidating your resources and targeting the appropriate profiles and personas? You waste less time and effort when you fast-track your “perfect customers” and funnel out the ones that don’t make sense for you and your business. You can prematurely “fire” the prospects, businesses, and personas that hurt more than help your business.
As you’re out prospecting, focus on your target profile when contacting companies; furthermore, when cold-calling, you can utilize your persona to find the best way “into” the company.
When you’re working with individuals, marketing, and making connections, take a look to see if that person falls within your target personas. That way you have a better understanding to help them the best or understand when to walk away. Utilizing personas and profiles allows you to make decisions that make sense for your business without going down the path too long before realizing that it was a waste of your time.
It sounds simple, but dividing your prospects in the beginning of the prospecting process is often overlooked. Be clear about who you are and discover early if you’re talking with who you should. This will cut down on wasted time and effort for you – by ensuring you are more consistently working with the companies and personas that hit your “sweet spot.”
Kristina Hublar is your friendly neighborhood Marketing Specialist at Bruce Fox, Inc., which means she is the person behind the keyboard for the social media, emails, website, and other marketing efforts. She has been with Bruce Fox a little over a year, but is an Indiana native. In her spare time, you’ll find her bobbing along to music while crafting, spending time with loved ones, or with her nose in a book.