Business Advice, sales, Strategy

How to hone your targeting skills to win more sales

Sue Barrett /

Investing quality time with prospects delivers better margins and displaces your competitors.

One of the time-tested methods for surviving a tough or slow economy is to hone in on prospects who match the profile of your most successful customers. This may sound like Sales 101 but it’s worth your attention right now because when times get tough, the opposite happens. Namely, desperation can make it tempting to pounce on any lead that ‘wanders in the door’.

Instead, I urge you to invest more energy in obtaining a deeper understanding of your current customer base and then use that understanding as a springboard to narrowing the list of leads you want to pursue.

Three tips to hone your targeting skills  

1. Map the characteristics of your ideal or most viable and valuable clients.

2. Know how your product, services or solutions are being used, by whom, and what value they bring to your clients’ businesses or personal circumstances.

3. Be brutally honest in understanding your clients so you can determine whether or not you are helping them be more successful by working/partnering with you.

A slow economy is a great time to go back and dig deep with your current clients. Spend some time asking detailed questions:

  1. What aspects of the product or service is the client using?
  2. How is it being used? By whom? With what specific results?

Quantify everything as you go along so that you can start putting together a solid understanding of the value you provide.

It’s important to keep some things in mind as you go back to your clients.

First, don’t gloss over generalities; pin clients down on specifics. All too often we ask whether clients are happy with a product, service or solution and whether there are any problems. When we get the right ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, we hang up the phone feeling pleased with ourselves. Don’t accept this kind of superficial exchange.

Sales teams need to go deeper and ask why clients are happy and how exactly are they using or applying the product, service or solution. What tangible, real benefits are they receiving?

Another challenge is to not avoid unhappy clients. It’s a natural human tendency. We want to invest our time with the people who are happiest with us and steer away from those who are least pleased. Don’t fall into that trap, because it’s just as important to know why a client is unsuccessful as it is to know why another is successful.

Ask the same kinds of probing questions of your dissatisfied clients that you ask of your satisfied clients. You may discover that all you need to do to is re-engineer a valve or change the appearance of your software to optimise your product or solution for that client. Or you may learn your product, service or solution has diminishing returns for companies larger than 1000 people. Guaranteed, you’ll learn something and whatever it is will be useful in some way.

When you go through this exercise you’ll come away understanding two important things: You’ll be able to create a detailed profile of the type of clients for whom your products, services or solutions are ideal. And you’ll be able to create a solid value proposition, with numbers and quantifiable success stories.

When you combine these factors – by targeting prospects that fit your ideal profile and offering them a compelling value proposition – you’ll see your win rate increase dramatically, regardless of economic conditions.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

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Sue Barrett

Sue is a selling better strategist and advisor, sales philosopher and speaker, sales trainer and coach, writer and activist. Sue is chief executive of forward thinking sales advisory Barrett and online sales education and resource platform www.salesessentials.com. Barrett develops sales strategies, standards and education that help people and businesses sell better.

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