Why do salespeople waste time on dead-end prospects? As leaders, we think we are very explicit when we tell people what we want them to hunt for. We have been selling for years ourselves and sales reps have been able to see our success. Yet time and time again they fail. Why does this keep happening? Early in my management career it happened to me. I felt like a complete failure as a leader. I would deliver clear marching orders, and yet, I was always having to deal with the fallout from bad prospecting. It was totally my fault.
Through working with different strategists and professionals, I was able to see where I had gone off the rails myself. There was complete misalignment in expectations, communication and outcome. What I was missing was a process that could create results we could all agree were the best possible outcome.
Finding the perfect client.
Today when I work with business owners, especially ones that have been in the industry for decades, they all talk about exactly who their best customers are. That“gut feel”or intuitive sense. They also have a hard time understanding why the rest of their sales team and marketing people can’t get it right. What they fail to recognize is how they are different from their competitors. Each company has its own DNA. You need to look beyond the highlights and get into why it works for you and why it works for them. That takes some real soul-searching. You need to be able to identify where you can take a Victory Lap and where there was a major implosion of business. There are always little things that we overlook.
Here are some examples of those details from various companies that lead to a failed relationship:
- Customers that rule by consensus.
- Companies that have a crappy website.
- Owners who use 4 or more colors in their logo.
- Prospects who’s only salesman is the business owner.
Here are some examples of other details from various companies where they found lifelong customers:
- Clients that had an amazing reaction to the color yellow.
- Businesses that chose to outsource their entire delivery vehicle fleet.
- Founders that were still in control of their businesses.
- Leaders who recently experience the death of a business friend.
These details may seem minor and insignificant, but they have lead to some major breakthroughs for companies. For example, a large fast food chain learned this when they found out that 30% of their milkshakes were being sold for breakfast. Once they realized their customers were looking for the best breakfast substitute they could consume while driving, they adjusted their menu to capture even more market share.
Your business will change over the years and so will the needs of your prospects and customers. So don’t assume the characteristics that made a good customer in the past, will suffice today. What used to be premium service, may now be the table stakes to get in the game. Consider, for example, hotels that cater to business travelers. WiFi used to be non-existent. Then it was offered as a premium service at high-end hotels. Soon everyone was offering it. Now most business travelers won’t even stay at hotels that don’t provide free high speed WiFi to their rooms. Your business will face similar changes.
The Stakes can be high
Depending how many people you have in sales and how much you spend on marketing and advertising, the value of having a process everyone can identify and measure can mean the difference in hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions of dollars over the course of the next business year. If you are an entrepreneur that is looking to be able to grow the business more profitably and enjoy some flexibility in your schedule, you should give this some serious thought. If you are in charge of a sales team, and you have had some significant turnover in your people, this would be a good time to align your focus.
How would you like to have a cheat sheet no bigger than a golf scorecard that could help everyone in the company identify where the next great prospects could come to and more importantly, confidently say NO to the ones that will waste your time?
I had one client recently tell me“we already have a checklist. And it still doesn’t work. Sales people stopped using it after the first week”. The short answer is a checklist gets over looked after a very short time. People think they know the steps, but then they skip them. Having an actual process that needs to have calculations, quick math and a score will always produce better results. If you want to know the difference between the most profitable businesses and the guys trying to figure out what just happened, look at their processes. Why not start with sales?
- Get the top 3-5 people, who are closest to your customer, in a room together.
- Collectively make up a list of your top three best customers and your bottom three worst customers.
- Have each of the people, separately and individually, write down the top 5 attributes that you are looking for in a new customer.
- Are you all looking for the same things?
- Do your best customers and your worst customers contain the same attributes?
If you are looking for better results for your company, I would invite you to give me a call or text me at 612-845-2076. We can have a short conversation about what you are after and quickly identify if building a better New Client Filter for your company will lead to the profits you are after. You can also check out more resources in the Dynasty Tool Box by clicking here.