We often hear this when we ask who a new client’s target market is. “Well, I want to sell to everyone!” Do you know what we don’t hear enough? “I want to learn more about qualifying leads and finding the best clients!”
On paper, sure, selling to just anyone sounds like a great idea that will lead to tons of money. But the truth is, it isn’t nearly as effective as people would like it to be.
Marketers know better, and that’s why it’s so essential for the sales and marketing teams to get along with each other. Nailing down a business’s or product’s target market is what marketers do best. They know that you sell more when you find the right audience.
Why Qualifying Leads is Important
On the other hand, salespeople want to cast too wide a net when we’re left to our own devices.
The reason makes sense. Our paychecks often come from how much we sell, so we try to sell as much as possible. Furthermore, because many of us believe in our products or services, we think we can help everybody.
But that’s not reality.
There are a million little things to consider when defining who you can do your best work for. Building a lead qualification process helps you find those people you can help the most.
Your best clients aren’t just rockstars because they paid you the quickest; they’re the ones that make you look good too. They had pain points that you were uniquely suited to solve. Basically, they are qualified to work with you, and you are best suited to help them.
Finding Your Target Market
A crucial part of what we do with our clients is to outline the sales process. The first step is defining your ideal customer persona.
For many people, starting with who you don’t want to work with is more approachable than identifying who your target audience should be. Unless you’re brand new, you’ve probably gained some experience with people you weren’t able to bring success to or were too difficult to work with.
What made those experiences so bad? Was it due to unreasonable expectations? Misunderstandings and disappointments? Think about what made them less fun to work with and write it down. (Documenting these things helps you create the necessary steps in your sales process.)
Now, think about your best clients. The ones that sing your praises to everybody, and the ones you’ve never had any significant issues with.
How are they different? Is it:
- communication style,
- work ethic,
- or belief system?
It could be anything, but somewhere in that range, there’s an alignment you were able to attain with your best clients that you couldn’t find with your worst.
That alignment is what makes qualifying future leads easier.
Focusing on this customer persona makes it easier to say no to unqualified leads. And it will help you have better conversations, better delivery, and more referrals. In other words, more clients and more money!
Lead Qualification Benefits Them Too!
Closing more sales is obviously a critical end goal. I mean, we all have to make money.
But believe it or not, the qualification process isn’t just for you. It helps your prospects know that they’re talking to the right salesperson.
Most people don’t want to talk to somebody who’s trying to sell them something they don’t need. That wastes everybody’s time, yours and theirs. But when the prospect has been qualified to be a potentially good fit for your company, it makes sense for both sides to talk.
By specializing, you’ll make your conversations more impactful, ensure you’re hitting the right pain points, and take on fewer clients that end up not working out. Then, you’ll have an easier time making a name for yourself as a provider in a particular space.
Best of all, you get to fulfill the potential of whatever product or service you sell by putting it in the right hands.
I had to learn the hard way too.
When Adapted Growth was new, we wanted to focus on helping entrepreneurs and creative freelancers because that’s where we thought we could be most successful. Over time, we realized there were other people we could help just as well, if not better.
Honestly, it kind of happened by accident.
I had several conversations during a networking event that led to working with groups we hadn’t considered before. These were small businesses with teams of ten or fewer salespeople, several in non-profit organizations. Those projects ended up being even more successful —and frankly, more enjoyable— than most of our work within our previously defined niche.
Your Niche Can Expand While Your Standards Remain
As important as defining a target market or customer persona is, being open to the idea that the market might change or expand is a vital mindset to keep. But that doesn’t have to change the standards you use to find your best clients.
That’s the beauty of qualifying leads—it doesn’t prevent you from pivoting.
The most significant difference between how we expanded into new areas and how many other companies do it is that we were not chasing it. We were not trying to help everyone. The conversations came from referrals and introductions, and I used the same qualifying process as I always have.
And when I looked back at the data on older projects and lost prospects and compared them to these new, more successful ones, I could see why they were a better fit.
Your CRM Helps in Qualifying Leads
If you customize your CRM to your needs using your sales method and your sales team is fully utilizing it, then it can highlight your target market for you. This helps you build qualification frameworks.
We frequently do deep CRM dives with clients who haven’t pinpointed the right audience yet. With enough data, we can usually see which clients they should be targeting and what they could be qualifying for based on where leads are falling off or moving through.
Sometimes, even when they’ve defined their niche, we catch a target audience shift even before they realize it.
For example, you might think that midsize companies are the best for you. But when we go through your data, we find that smaller companies are closing faster, and the margins are better. Hence, it makes sense to shift your focus to smaller companies more than larger ones.
You’ll find that kind of information with sufficient data, making it easier to make changes. But we have to put the systems in place to capture the data. Otherwise, we are just working with guesses.
That’s always going to be the other half of picking a niche, tracking the data to make sure it’s the right niche. And then, when that changes, it’s time to reassess.
You Can’t Sell to Everybody
Frankly, trying to sell to everybody does nothing but hurt you.
When you believe that everyone needs what you do, it leads to all the problems that we have talked about in other posts:
- unqualified opportunities,
- feeling like you have to be “on” all the time.
To name a few.
It also makes you inflexible to reassessing, adapting, and setting appropriate standards and expectations.
Things change and evolve all the time in business. Flexibility is what makes or breaks the biggest companies in the world. Being unable to change direction makes some companies irrelevant, and eventually, they have to close their doors.
Qualifying leads and building a solid client base create a stronger, longer-lasting business.
Header Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash