Learn Why You Can’t Sell to Everyone
We’ve heard it time and time again when asking a client who their target market is.
“I want to sell to anyone and everyone!”
On paper, sure, it sounds like a great idea. But the truth is, it isn’t nearly as effective as people would like it to be.
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. It makes sense. Most of our paychecks are based on how much we sell, so we’re going to try to sell to whomever we can. Furthermore, because a lot of us believe in our products or services, we like to think we can help everybody.
But that’s not reality.
There are a million little things to think about when you’re defining who you can do your best work for.
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, starting with who you don’t want to work with is easier than trying to figure out who your target market 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.
Then you can think about your best clients. The ones that sing your praises to everybody, and the ones you’ve never had any major issues with.
What makes the two different? Company size, communication style, industry, work ethic or belief system? 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 how you define your target market.
Focusing on this target market becomes your niche. And it will help you have better conversations, better delivery, and more referrals. In other words, more clients and more money!
Doing this well doesn’t just help you close more sales. It helps your prospects know that they’re talking to the right salesperson. Most people don’t want to talk to somebody that is trying to sell to everybody. That’s a waste of time, everybody’s time. But when they, the prospect, have been qualified to be a potential good fit for your company, that it makes sense for both sides to have the discussion.
By specializing, you will make your conversations more impactful, take on fewer clients that
end up not working out, and have an easier time making a name for yourself as a provider in a certain space.
When Adapted Growth was new, we wanted to focus on helping entrepreneurs and creative
freelancers because that was the area where we thought we could be most successful. Those projects are fulfilling and fun. But over time, we realized there were other areas that we were having an equal or greater amount of success in, and we were able to help more.
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. These groups were small teams of ten or fewer salespeople in non-profit organizations. These projects ended up being even more successful —and frankly, more enjoyable— than the projects working
with groups that 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 our lane, we never would have
been able to expand into some new areas where we can have good results and make a difference for these 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.
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. 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.
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 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.
It also makes you inflexible to reassessing, adapting, and finding a different niche.
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 is what makes some companies irrelevant, and eventually, they have to close their doors.
Nobody wants to be the next Blockbuster.