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How To Find Your Ideal Clients

Do you ever run into the challenge of your salespeople chasing business they can't win and can't deliver? Chasing the wrong prospects is the bane of every salesperson's existence, resulting in unhappy salespeople who don’t hit their numbers. Don't let this happen to your team. Here is how you can find your ideal clients.

Why You Engage the Wrong Client

Salespeople, especially new and inexperienced salespeople, are often eager to show a robust pipeline and close deals, but they often find themselves chasing the wrong clients. Many salespeople will admit that prospecting is the hardest part of their role. According to HubSpot research, "more than 40% of salespeople say prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process, followed by closing (36%) and qualifying (22%)."

 Here are a few reasons why your salespeople may be engaging with the wrong prospects:

  • "Good" is not clearly identified.
  • There’s no planned focus to chase an "ideal" client.
  • The salesperson thinks any business is better than no business (good or not).
  • The salesperson finds it hard to say "no" to business.
  • Managers allow it to happen.

Finding prospects is hard. But pursuing prospects who aren't a good fit creates an even bigger challenge.

The Impact of Chasing "Non-Ideal" Prospects

Salespeople invest a lot of time chasing and interacting with prospects, trying to convert them into clients. Sometimes, converting a small percentage of those prospects can be enough to hit a quota. Other times, the "non-ideal" is the source of the struggle.

Here are a few signs that a prospect is wasting your time. Over time, if you keep chasing the wrong prospects, you can run into these problems:

  • Lower close rates and longer sales cycles (on large, complex deals)
  • Higher close rates (on small deals, but salespeople can't sell enough of those to hit their goal)
  • Harder to fulfill, satisfy or keep the client
  • Lower cost-effectiveness
  • Greater difficulty targeting events, promotions, and networking partners
  • Increased time away from chasing good clients

These struggles can often be avoided if your team is chasing the right client.

Defining Your Ideal Client

Chasing the right leads is an essential part of being a successful salesperson. According to Webinarcare, "almost 40% of sales leaders say that optimizing lead generation so salespeople can prospect better is a top priority to help them reach revenue goals.” In addition, sales leaders agree that effective sales prospecting is essential to closing more deals.

Rather than take a wild guess, spend some time reflecting on the companies you currently work with. While looking at your list, ask yourself these questions:

  • Why are your good clients great? (Who are you most successful with?)
  • What are the characteristics of clients in your ideal client sweet spot?
  • Why are your worst clients bad? (What lessons have you learned?)

These questions will help to determine who your ideal client actually is.

Ideal Client Sweet Spot

Look at your entire book of business for your current clients. The most successful organizations are adept at finding the ideal clients and aligning their unique values to these "sweet spot" clients. These are the organizations that:

  • Value the things that are unique about your solution (your differentiators)
  • Value your expertise
  • Allow you to form tighter partnerships with them, rather than being a vendor
  • Ensure the organization can deliver on what you sold

Your sweet spot is where you should focus most of your time and energy.

What Makes up an Ideal Profile

After you have determined who your best clients are, you'll want to create an ideal client profile. The client profile helps your team by summarizing the specific client type you are targeting, including the following information:

  • Demographics: region, size, industry, verticals, etc.
  • Characteristics: clients served, brand awareness, etc.
  • Situations: common problems, constraints, market conditions, etc.
  • Business model: what they offer, current vendors, etc.
  • Culture: how they work, value suppliers, etc.

Check the ideal client demographics you've identified against those same demographics for social media to see what platforms are suitable for connecting with your ideal client.

Creating a client persona helps you understand your ideal client profile and how best to target them. Creating this profile based on your findings allows you a higher probability of winning, makes it more likely that clients will accept your pricing, and increases your close ratio.

Goals of Defining the Ideal Client

Identifying your ideal client can seem like an overwhelming and daunting task. However, it's an essential step in growing and improving your business. It allows the sales team to spend time on the clients and opportunities that give them the best chance to win and will lead to results such as:

  • Increased win rates
  • Increased margins
  • A better approach to qualifying and finding prospects
  • Greater ability to attend their events, shows, and conferences
  • A deeper understanding of a market or market segment
  • Shorter sales cycles because you aren't bending your system to make clients fit
  • Happier clients
  • Greater efficiency (need to work fewer deals or work the same number of deals — selling more without increasing headcount)
  • Maximized time with clients, giving you the best probability of winning (reduced opportunity cost)

If a new prospect is a good match for your ideal client criteria, then it's likely worth investing the effort to pursue them.

In The End

Prospecting is one of the most challenging tasks assigned to a salesperson. To get the best results, you'll want your team to know what their ideal client criteria is. This would be someone who finds your company’s solutions to be the right solution to their problems. In addition, the ideal client would most likely be loyal to your company, frequently use or buy your products, and want to build a valued partnership.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 20+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Gary has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Vistage, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtable, Sales Management Association, and more. If you want to find out more about Gary check out his profile here.
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