You or your sales team have limited time. Every business has limited resources. You must get maximum return for dollars and time invested.
You must make informed decisions about whom to call, in what order and in what priority. You must at all times allocate your limited time and resources to where it will do the most good. You have to make choices.
Very commonly those choices are not made. Under the guise of “anyone could be our client,” “I don’t want to miss anyone,” ” or equally ridiculous “You never know,” the prospecting net is cast far too wide. When there are typically enough higher probability buyers to keep you or your sales team busy for a long long time, resources are wasted with far too many lower-probability and no-probability buyers, simply because prospect pools are not prioritized.
Huge waste and totally unnecessary.
When you don’t prioritize you are making the choice to wade through sludge looking for a few nuggets of gold. When you set priorities you can jack hammer through a solid vein of gold. Which would you rather do?
Your objective is never to “not miss anyone.” That is dumb. Your objective is always to allocate your resources to where it will get you the greatest return.
The 3 hour cure
Basic marketing 101 says that the people most likely to buy from you, look like the people who have already bought from you. Genius.
So you start by building a profile of those that have already purchased by you. The component parts of that profile will commonly be industry (SIC code,) revenue range or number of employees.
Create a list of the accounts or clients you wish to clone. Name and address. Include your best accounts and your solid bread and butter accounts but exclude the smaller accounts.
This list must be made up of those that have actually written checks to you. Not those that you think should or want to write checks to you, those that have actually hired you.
My suggestion is that there should be at least 50 accounts on this list. If your company doesn’t have at least 50 good names, then use companies you know have purchased from competitors.
Take that list and go to a business database such as provided by infousa. I personally have always used their salesgenie product for this purpose. There is a free version called referenceUSA available at many local and college libraries.
Look up each company on your list. In separate columns make note of the location, industry (sic code,) revenue range and employee size range.
You may choose other criteria as well but the above usually suffices.
Now look for “clumps.”
Once you have looked up all the names, you want to find patterns. Very simply, what are the most dominant industries (SIC code ranges), revenue ranges and employee size ranges of the accounts you would most like to clone.
As to each characteristic, ignore the stragglers above and below the dominant range.
Once this is done you now have a profile of your current accounts you would most like to clone.
Armed with this profile go back to your business database tool and search by those criteria in the geographic area you are targeting.
For example: If your dominant profile is companies with sic codes in these ranges 20-23, 50-51 and 7311-7999; revenue range of $2.5 – $20 million; with an employee range of 25-100, use those parameters for your search.
Guess what? You have now identified the companies who look the most like the companies that buy from you. Call them first.
Skip This Profiling Step at Your Peril
Lets review an example to illustrate how easy it is to doom your prospecting efforts before you even pick up the phone.
If you do not create a profile of your target account, run the list counts correctly and prioritize accordingly, you are doomed.
Here is a typical case history selected from my client files.
First get a handle on your call universe. What is the number of businesses that theoretically might buy your product or service?
In our example this client had a service that theoretically any business might buy, so the call universe was all businesses within their geographic target area.
Call universe: 88,667 businesses
Now we seek to slice out records that would be lower or no probability targets.
In this case the decision-maker is almost always found at corporate headquarters. So we would not choose to call branches or subsidiaries.
Select only headquarters or single locations companies: Call universe just dropped to 77,599 records.
You just eliminated 11,068 locations that would be a waste of phone calls.
Your next cut uses the profile you created.
Your “A” profile represents those SIC code ranges and revenue ranges that are most dominant among the accounts and clients you would like to clone.
Your “B” profile represents those SIC code ranges and revenue ranges that are a bit broader or less dominant than your “A” group, but very much above average.
Anything below the “B” profile would fall into your “C” profile. Your “bread and butter” accounts. Average size account potential and moderate sales cycles.
Below that, your dredges, the “D” and “E” groups. You never want to call into your “D” or “E” Groups. Calling D’s and E’s is like throwing money out the window.
Can you identify your D and E records?
There is a super responsive sub-group you want to identify
I call this the “A+” group.
Very simply, within your “A” group, it is very common for you to see a super bullseye. A sub-group within the “A’s” that is even more dominant. It might be a tighter SIC code range. Maybe a higher revenue range than the rest of the A’s. You look at it and think “Holy cow, never knew so many of our great accounts were found within such narrow call list parameters.”
So, when you run counts, you want to run counts of your “A+,” “A” and “B” groups.
Back to our example. How many records showed up when we ran counts of these three groups?
A+ records: 812 (1%)
A records: 3,417 (4.5%)
B records: (6.9%)
So out of a total potential call universe of 88,667 records, just 4,229 were “A’s.” Now if you were managing a team or you were calling to pad your own paycheck, where would you choose to call?
Within the group that you know for a fact contains by far the highest percentage of buyers. Buyers that look just like your current best accounts you wish to clone. Or, would you choose to call a group which contains far fewer probable buyers.
If you had a choice and could pick your poison, you would choose to call into the group that increased the odds that you would bump into buyers.
When you spend just a few hours creating these profiles and running these counts, you give yourself that choice.
In our example the company had two callers setting appointments. On average, they could launch their call process with about 50 new records a week. So two callers would eat 100 new records a week. If they focused just on the A+ records, it would take them two months to do that.
If you were managing a call team it would make sense to put your A+ records into play before all the rest. That is the group that has the heaviest concentration of accounts that look just like your best accounts.
Who would not do that?
After that it would make a lot of sense, to focus calls on the rest of the “A” group. That group of 3,417 records would keep this call team busy for another 34 weeks.
Who would not do that?
Run counts and set priorities
Our example related a common, yet basic set of choices. A+, A, B, C, D and E groups.
Depending upon your business goals, competitive situation and resources of time and money you may want to identify segments of other potential targets before you set your priorities.
You might identify a segment of “whales.” Companies most likely to result in a very large sale. These will typically be harder to penetrate, longer sales cycle type accounts.
And maybe you have an emerging segment. A class of prospects that you feel has high potential for you but you do not yet have a significant account presence.
Based upon your needs you may decide to allocate 80% of time and resources to prospecting you’re a+ and A group, 15% to emerging segments with growth potential and 5% to your whales.
The key point here is that you are making purposeful conscious informed decisions based upon facts, research and basic marketing and sales principles.
This small profiling and research effort gives you control over how you allocate your limited lead generation resources.