Wasting time on the wrong prospects is the original sin of sales.
“You’re just not right for me.”
“We just don’t have budget for this now.”
Or (worst ever)
“Thanks for the demo. We don’t (do the thing your company sells) now, but I’ll reach out when we start in the future”
Time is the most valuable asset you have during the course of your working hours. Wasting time on the wrong prospects, is the original sin of sales. Assuming you are building prospect lists that meet your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), the only reason you should hear any of the responses above is if there is a breakdown in your qualification process, or worse, you don’t have a qualification process (more on this in a future post).
Time to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate your ideal customer profile (ICP). I see a lot of people get caught up here following traditional, prescribed ICP practices of spending (IMHO) too much time on the wrong aspects of describing your personas that make up your ICP.
Channel Your Inner Therapist (or fake a High EQ)
Your inner-therapist must deduce the ins and outs of what problems plague your prospective customers. A VP at a 10,000 person company cares about different things than a VP at a 50 person company cares about. They need to be segmented into separate buckets and your messaging strategy needs to be adjusted to each group.
Let’s break down each into key components to help you decide which segment to target to maximize your time.
Vice President of Sales at a 10,000+ person company
- Comfortably earning $150,000+ and a healthy retirement plan
- Your impact to their total compensation may not justify the risk of failure of a new initiative
- 5-10 Direct Reports and total headcount of 100+ in their org
- It’s a consensus sale. They can pull the trigger, but need buy-in from their Directors who are burgeoning VPs themselves and often times focused on growing their direct report count to demonstrate they could be VP material
- Spends a lot of time reporting up to a SVP or C-Suite to manage cost while tracking on plan
- Lots of internal meeting, specifically around planning. Getting their attention is a challenge
- They can pull the trigger on the expense of your product, but probably need to route you through an internal procurement process to cover their ass
- Desire – Probably have an existing process you are disrupting, replacing or augmenting
- Want easy to add, reasonably priced, and complimentary to what they are doing ideally with significant cost savings so they can spend their limited budget on more things that can have an impact
- Timing – Longer sales cycle
- Working with a fixed budget approved by the CFO and you may need to wait until next budget review
- Bigger revenue opportunity if you can weather the storm and less risk of churn since they are going out on a limb to ‘approve’ your offering and there are significant internal time investments that must take place to roll this out.
Vice President of Sales at a 50 Person Company
- Earning $100,000+ and working at a small company to realize upside
- Open to risk/reward and can swing for the fences to
- 5-10 Direct Reports which include their total org head count
- Their direct reports will be your end users or see direct impact
- Direct pressure from the CEO to beat plan
- Looking for ways to get their team more efficient and producing more
- Probably has budget approval for your product, may need CEO’s blessing but if it has a chance to beat plan and doesn’t carry a lot of risk, chances of getting approves are high
- Desire – Does this move the needle and have a clear ROI?
- Motivated by growth and helping the team become more productive as the organization matures
- Timing – NOW
- Immediate revenue opportunity if your business case is compelling
- Limited, but immediate revenue opportunity and higher risk of churn since their budgets and attention can change very quickly
A common problem we see in sales, is picking the wrong segment and not realizing this until it’s too late. We encourage our SDRs to constantly optimize their outreach campaigns to avoid this mistake. It’s like asset diversification. Spend the majority of your prospecting time on what is producing results. Dial up or dial back on time spent and campaign strategies with each segment(s) until you have consistent short and long term achievement of your objectives.
If you want to sell, you need to know what you’re selling and, just as important, why someone else would need it. Beyond your value proposition, you need to understand the common problems of your target customer. After completing an exercise like we outlined above, we know each segment is motivated differently, and we need to write different email campaign messaging for each.
Stalk Your Prospects (legally…of course)
Conduct research through every available avenue — from online resources to relevant industry comparisons to first-hand accounts.
Even after you have a thorough understanding of what your ICP should look like, remember that everything depends on the almighty dollar. You must follow the money. So who has money? Since most companies are not inclined to simply flaunt their wealth, you’ll need to know where to look. Here are some examples of prospects who have cash and publicize it:
- A company that just raised capital
- CrunchBase does a daily report of this
- Company is maturing, process in place
- Public companies who just had a big quarter/year
- (these reports are public)
- Big quarters mean bigger targets
- Companies who are hiring signal they are growing
- (check the job boards for companies hiring)
- Hiring a potential ‘user’ of your product
Once you can match your ICP with the appropriate financial resources, you have the makings of a relationship that could go the distance. Need more information on identifying your company’s ICP, or how you can then compare that ICP to your existing customer base? Check out our eBook or keep reading
It used to be that researching a prospective customer required real-life detective work. Nowadays, though, the Internet had made personal information so readily available that companies have been founded for the sole purpose of monitoring online reputations.
For all the drawbacks associated with social media, when used properly, it can serve as a phenomenal tool for studying the professional and personal lives of those with whom you aspire to conduct business. Once you have your ideal customer profile (ICP) identified, it’s time to rely on readily available web based tools for in-depth analysis of your prospects.
Pro Tip: Start with your BEST existing customers. Look for common attributes that could be used to find others who ‘look’ like them.
You can start with the basics: Conduct a simple Google search for a broad overview, then delve into individual social media sites. Whereas Facebook will likely provide more personal-life details, LinkedIn and Twitter may offer insight into your prospects’ professional worlds. These can all be used to your advantage. It’s much easier to personalize an email or build rapport on a call when you share uncommon commonalities like having gone to the same school, members of the same fraternal organizations, have kids or have a bucket list of the same golf courses.
Once you have completed preliminary research, it’s time to get interactive. Engage your prospectives virtually using the following methods:
- Follow them on Twitter
- Tool: FollowerWonk to see who follows them.
- Join their LinkedIn groups
- Tool: LinkedIn Groups
- Like their posts
- Tool: SlideShare, Medium, Twitter
- Target ads to them (more on this later)
- Tools: Twitter
- Study their profile. Are there any uncommon interests you share?
- Tool: Google, Facebook, About.me, LI
- Create Alerts for key activities
- Tool: Google Alerts
By entering their social landscapes, not only can you confirm whether prospective prospects truly fit your ICP, but also you can achieve an ice-breaker of sorts through a virtual introduction. Be subtle but make your presence known. Remember, you can’t go into the weeds on research for every prospect. Hedge your time investment by mixing up the amount of research you do on one segment vs. another. Experiment. This is sales hacking!
Ready to get started? Here’s How to Get a Meeting with Anyone!