29 Aug


 “Focus more on your desire than on your doubt, and the dream will take care of itself.” – Mark Twain

I’m certain that Mark Twain could have been a heck of a salesman – to go with his other professions as author, speech writer, journeyman printer, steamboat pilot, army volunteer, and gold & timber prospector. Yes, he could talk and entertain.  But his intensely focused mindset is the trait that would have made him a fantastic salesman.

Targeting is all about focus. Pick a niche in the market and master it. Then defend it. This is your opportunity to be the best in the world at something.

I wrote about the 16 sales fundamentals over two blogs in July. Out of those fundamentals, I would isolate Closing and Targeting as the two most important keys to successful business development. Closing is something you learn, develop and master over time. Targeting is something you can do today and completely control. Stay with it and not getting distracted by various side bars and sales opportunities.

If you are selling lemonade, you obviously want to sell better tasting lemonade than all the other kids and make sure EVERYONE on your street knows about your stand. If you are a small business, you need to pick a relatively small audience and offer them something that no one else can. Targeting is not a lot different for a mid-size companies – you are simply chasing a little bit bigger piece of the pie. Unless you are Google, you can’t attempt to please and sell to everyone.

When I opened the doors of Blue Octopus in 2009, I was ready to recruit any salesperson for anyone in the world. If I captured that market, I figured I could grow my business to $1.85 billion! That sounds like a great idea, right? Not really… I didn’t speak to anyone in particular and didn’t resonate with my prospects. As a new business, I knew that I might not be around for very long with this approach. So I started working with Minnesota companies with a technology emphasis that were stuck between $1-10 million in sales. Bingo. I had my audience. I knew countless business owners with great products and services and mediocre sales teams. These businesses wanted to grow faster and had the capability to do so but just needed a little push.

A few questions to help define your best prospect:

  • What is the niche of your ideal customer?
  • What is their SIC code?
  • What size organization (by employee count or annual sales)?
  • Where are they located?
  • Which titles are you calling on? (I don’t believe in selling to just one)
  • What is unique about your best current customers that can carry over to similar organizations?
  • Is your sales and marketing messaging specific to this target market?
  • How many customers do you presently have in that niche?
  • Can you deliver the same message to everyone with a certain title in your target market? (if not, your message may be too broad to be effective)
  • Are you knocking on the door of this target repeatedly? From several directions? How many knocks before you give up?
  • How are you unique to that audience? What problem do you solve for your chosen audience?
  • How close are you to being the best in the world at answering their needs?

CEO/President or Owner:

Next week, carve out a day and meet offsite at the location of your choice. Sit down with anyone that is involved in business development inside your organization. Find a way to shut the phones off for half the day. As a team, answer the questions above. Even if you have done it before, it’s probably been a while. Ask everyone to answer these questions and you may be surprised by the responses.

VP or Director of Sales & Marketing:

Call the same meeting. Make sure your boss and your sales and marketing employees are involved. Is everyone in agreement on who you are selling to?

Sales Representatives:

Ask yourself these questions and then go to your sales leadership and confirm that you’re on the same page. Where are the gaps and can he/she help you resolve them? If you can’t figure this out and get help doing so, I would recommend looking for another employer.

Begin listing all the steps that you need to take in order to become the best in the world to your audience. Your audience is likely .1% of the entire market. 1 out of 1000 buy from you (and only you). What is .1% of $1.85 billion? I think most businesses would be excited about a $185 Million year! Think small and achieve big results.

If you can’t answer these questions quickly, stop selling and update your marketing plan. Know your target audience. Once you can define them, you can figure out where they live, eat and breath. You can describe them to your friends and customers and will find a surprisingly strong current of referrals.

You’re not going to be in a thriving business if you don’t excite a particular niche and understand the gap to becoming the best in the world to those customers and prospects. Pick your narrow audience, describe their wants, needs and characteristics in exhausting detail, communicate a compelling message and make sure everyone in that universe knows your name.

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” – Mark Twain

Make every day count!


Twitter: @drew_schmitz

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