Find a niche, but don’t let it own you.
We’ve heard it time and time again.
We ask, “Who is your target market?”
Normal response, “I want to sell to anyone and everyone!”
It sounds great, but it isn’t nearly as effective as people would like.
This is an area where salespeople need to take a note from marketers. Left to our own devices, most salespeople will cast too wide a net and end up not being relevant to anyone.
When you think that you can sell to anyone and that everyone needs what you do, that leads to thinking that you have to pitch to everyone. This leads to all of the problems that we have talked about in other posts. Entitlement, unqualified opportunities, feeling like you have to be “on” all the time. Just to name a few.
A key part of what we do with our clients is to outline the sales process. The first step is defining your target market. For many people, that starts with thinking about who you don’t want to work with and who you aren’t able to bring as much success to.
How you decide on your target market is largely up to you. You might pick a niche because there isn’t much competition. You have a lot more success with companies of a certain size or type. Or you may pick a market because they are the kind of people who make you want to show up to work each day.
Most people won’t carve out time to talk to a salesperson unless that salesperson is especially relevant to what you need. For instance, I love to bicycle and I train in martial arts. If a generic personal trainer called me to try and sell me services, I would probably say “no thanks” and never give them the time of day. However, if a personal trainer who worked exclusively with martial artists or cyclists and had done the research in calling me, I would definitely carve out the time to talk. Just like most everybody else, I want to spend my time with somebody who can be of the most benefit to me.
This applies to almost every situation in business and sales.
By specializing, you will make your conversations more impactful, take on fewer clients that you end up not wanting to work with, and have an easier time making a name for yourself as a provider in a certain space.
Changing your Target Market
When Adapted Growth was new, we wanted to focus on helping entrepreneurs and creative freelancers because that was the area that we thought that we could have the most success with. Those projects are successful and fun, but we have found a couple of other areas where we are also able to have a lot of success.
It happened almost by accident. During a networking event, I got into a couple of conversations that lead to working with some groups that had not been on our radar before.
We did a couple of projects with small teams of ten salespeople or less and non-profit organizations. These projects ended up being even more successful than the projects working with groups we thought were in our niche.
As important as it is to define a target market, being open to the idea that the market might change or expand depending on success is an important mindset to keep.
If we had said no to those projects that were slightly outside of our lane, we never would have been able to expand into some new areas where we are able to have good results and help out clients.
The biggest difference between how we expanded into new areas and how most other people do it is that we were not chasing it. The conversations came about from referrals and introductions. We were not trying to help everyone.
When the conversations moved towards working together, we sat down and discussed what working outside of our former target market looked like. This helped in setting expectations with these new clients and making sure that the experience was as good as we could make it, both for them and for us.
Once you pick a niche, there is nothing that says you have to stay there forever. When we do deep dives with our clients, we sometimes find that the target market changes based on the data that we find in the CRM.
This is both normal and beneficial.
You might think that midsize companies are the best for you, but when we go through your data, it might be that smaller companies are closing faster and the margins are better. It might make sense to focus more on smaller companies than larger ones.
With a sufficient amount of data, information like this can be found and changes can be made. But we have to put the systems in place to capture the data. Otherwise, we are just working with guesses.
When it comes to sales and business, things change and evolve all the time. You have to be flexible so that you don’t end up being irrelevant. Focusing on a niche will help you have better conversations, better delivery, and more referrals. Just be aware that from time to time, your market might change. Build systems that capture that information so that you can track it and adjust as necessary.
No one wants to be the next Blockbuster.