For the past two months an unknown allergy complete with red blotches and freakish itching has overtaken my life. (No, it’s not contagious.) After extensive testing, I’ve discovered that I’m allergic to dogs. Our beautiful, loving standard poodle that I walk every day, who sits in my office through every call, and who the kids laughingly watch follow me everywhere – is not good for me.
How can that be?
Sometimes it’s that way in sales. The prospects we love to target aren’t good for us. The customers we enjoy most aren’t the ones who will buy. While we don’t break out in blotches, we do experience other nasty sales side-effects:
- Long, drawn out sell cycles
- Smaller than average sales
- Shrinking pipelines
When this happens, you have to take a step back and analyze why it’s happening. You may be allergic to your prospects and you haven’t noticed the rash yet.
Perhaps you enjoy working with smaller, friendly companies, but your solution is a better fit for big companies. Or, maybe you enjoy selling to the executive level, having in-depth, blue sky conversations, but your solution is one better sold to a mid-level manager and executives don’t get involved in the decision.
When I worked for IBM in my pots and pans territory, I decided I’d target day care centers. I liked their mission and they were easy for a young sales rep to approach. They attended the events I hosted and answered my calls. But they didn’t have any money and they certainly didn’t need large computer solutions.
Many sellers are targeting people and companies they’d like to do business with, but who aren’t the best fit for their solutions. As a result, while the prospecting feels comfortable, the results are not.
You need to find prospects that are a good match for your solutions not just in need, but in size, industry and even budget. The need and desire may exist. Your prospects might meet with you every time because they enjoy talking with you and have a genuine interest. But if they can’t justify your solution, you won’t sell anything.
No, you aren’t allergic to your prospects. You just might be targeting the wrong ones.
Step back and examine your best customers for clues to who your ideal target market might be.
- What industries are they in?
- What size are they?
- Who are you working with?
- Are they in a particular geography?
- What do they appreciate most about your solutions?
- How do they use your solutions in their business?
Your best customers can help you define who your best prospects are to target. These are the people and companies to focus your prospecting and lead generation attention on.
Avoid those prospects causing your allergic reaction.
As you do, you’ll quickly discover that it’s easier to get appointments. Sales will come faster, and your pipeline will overflow with new opportunities.
Yes, the dog definitely stays. So can a few of your favorite prospects who aren’t part of your ideal target market. Just don’t over-do it or you’ll have a negative reaction in your sales funnel!