People over-complicate sales.  Ultimately sales is about finding people who have problems you can solve, then putting your value proposition to them.

Ergo, you must be very clear on two things.  The problems you solve and who are likely buyers.

The clearer you are, the more successful you’ll be.

So here’s an exercise we put all our clients through.  I encourage you to complete it too.

  1. Start with problems. Make a list of ALL the problems you can help people solve through your products and services. Be specific and clear.
  2. List all the types of clients who have one or more of these problems. For example if you’re an accountant, your clients could be individual tax payers or companies.  Think in terms of industry, size and location.
  3. Who are the decision makers and influencers? Selling to a couple, one or the other may be the primary decision maker, but the other influences and can say “no”.  With a company, there may be a business imperative, but someone else like IT may feel threatened and put up barriers.
  4. List the qualities, characteristics and criteria that make someone your ideal client. For example, we look for progressive, open minded business leaders who are willing to be coached.  People who have vision, and are committed to putting in the work, especially when the going gets tough as it inevitably does.
  5. Who don’t you want as a client? Could be organisations where you’re perceived as a commodity and beaten down on price.  Where they don’t pay promptly.  You decide.
  6. Create a short list of 3 client types from step 2. These are people you’d really like to work with.  I suggest 3 because marketing and sales is about testing a market to see if you get traction.  Just because you think they’re facing a set of issues doesn’t mean they agree or give them enough priority to want to solve them.
  7. Given the list of issues you can solve, what results do your potential clients want more than anything else? You’re going to be testing this hypothesis in future steps.
  8. Pick at least 6 good clients and use our Value Gap Analysis (VGA) process to find out what they value most/least about your product/service.  The VGA is an invaluable tool for gaining actionable insights as to your current and future clients’ issues and outcomes they’re looking for.  You’ll also glean market intelligence on new products/services you could provide.  You can read more about the VGA here.
  9. Validate with 3 people who fit your target profile but are NOT yet clients. Use the results you gleaned from the VGA exercise and confirm that each major high value issue you solve is true for them.  Drill down and ask questions along the lines of:
    • “Why has [PROBLEM] been an issue?”
    • “As long as [PROBLEM] continues, how does that limit you?”
    • “What’s the worst thing about [PROBLEM]?”
    • “When you think about [PROBLEM] how does that make you feel?”
    • “When you’ve successfully solved [PROBLEM] what will you have in its place?”
    • “What about [DESIRED RESULT] is so important?”
    • “What else?”
    • “And why is that important?”
    • “What have you tried so far to get rid of [PROBLEM] and get [DESIRED RESULT]?”
    • “And what has been most frustrating / disappointing / satisfying about what you’ve done so far?”

Now summarise your ideal client’s attributes. Pick the top 3 client types you’ve identified.  For each write down:

    • Has these pressing problems.
    • Badly wants / aspires to.
    • Worries about.
    • Doesn’t realise.
    • Their biggest obstacles are.
    • Emotions they often feel and doesn’t want to feel.
    • Emotions they don’t often feel and want to feel are.

Now go out and find them!  Which is where prospecting comes in.  Knowing exactly who your targets are enables you to reach out and start conversations to qualify whether they’re a good fit or not.  And if they are, start the process of selling.

Realise that the better you are at defining exactly who is and is not an ideal client has a direct impact on the amount of time, effort and money you spend on getting new clients.  The more targeted you are, the better your results.

Finally, if you’d like help figuring out who your ideal clients are and then putting in place a prospecting, marketing and sales process which is guaranteed to help you close more deals, faster, give me a hoy.  Or check out our PMS SalesAccelerator program here.

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