The Biggest Mistake Salespeople Make

To focus on everyone is really to focus on no one. Salespeople who fail to understand their ideal prospect are beginning their sales journey on the wrong path.

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I recently heard a salesperson describe their ideal prospect as “everyone.” Another salesperson said, “I like to focus on building strategic, symbiotic partnerships that create mutually beneficial long-term relationships.”… Huh? In both cases, salespeople lack focus and their definition of the ideal prospect is too vague.

The Roman philosopher, Seneca, said, “To be everywhere is to be nowhere.” The same logic applies to business. To focus on everyone is really to focus on no one. Salespeople who fail to understand their ideal prospect are beginning their sales journey on the wrong path.

Salespeople that fail to define the ideal prospect with any real criteria, fail to recognize opportunities as they present themselves. Some salespeople will complicate this part of the process by using big words and corporate puffery. Big words and puffery will not help you define the ideal prospect. This type of description is all about the sizzle and not the steak. There needs to be some meat behind your description.

Here are a few guidelines to help you define the ideal prospect.

Focus on your value proposition. To correctly define your ideal prospect, you first need to understand what you bring to the table. The value proposition is what the prospect stands to gain by purchasing your solution. A clear value proposition clarifies the type of prospect you should focus on.

Focus on value proposition overlap. Once you understand your value proposition, ask yourself, “What type of prospect will benefit the most from our value proposition?” The goal is to align your value proposition with the prospect’s need. The more overlap between your value proposition and the customer’s needs, the more likely you are to make a sale.

Establish the profile. Establishing a detailed profile will help you recognize the ideal prospect more efficiently. Your profile serves as the acid test for prospecting. If the prospect fits the profile, then you pursue the opportunity. If they don’t, move onto the next one. Establish a prospect profile using criteria that is both subjective and objective. For example, number of employees, industry sector, growth-oriented, relationship-oriented, and accessibility of decision makers.

A well-defined, well-structured profile does not limit your sales opportunities, it gives you focus. By focusing on everyone you run the risk of missing the opportunities that are best suited for your organization. Before you select a group of new prospects, ask yourself, “What is the ideal prospect for our organization?”

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