How to Target: Prospecting Heat Seeking Missiles

Prospecting is one of the most difficult parts of a salesperson’s job. We’ve written about this before – lead generation is so important, but salespeople are running out of gas. As a sales manager, you’ve probably had a salesperson come to you wondering where to find more leads, what to say to a brand new prospect, or what to do with a non-responsive lead.

When a salesperson struggles with prospecting, it often doesn’t have anything to do with the nuts and bolts of cold-calling or list building. We find the most common cause of poor prospecting is failing to consider who you are trying to reach. What is your target? Who is your ideal customer? How would you know if she’s ready to buy?

As a sales manager, you can alleviate some of this prospecting pain by engaging your team in targeting and lead scoring.

What is Targeting?

In sales, targeting is the practice of defining your ideal clients, planning prospecting activities to reach them, and then executing this plan to generate the best sales leads. In other words, it enables the salesperson to remain focused on the best possible prospecting practices.

Typically, a company will establish a set of criteria based on an ideal client profile. Depending on your product or service, your ideal company profile might include its annual revenue, location, and industry. You can also choose to target specific people, such as CEOs, VPs, or managers who are either influencers or decision makers in acquiring your offering.

What is Lead Scoring?

Once you’ve established your targets, you can engage in lead scoring to qualify or disqualify leads. Scoring provides an objective framework for selecting the leads that you will work, rather than selecting them using subjective indications of “sales readiness.”

Lead Scoring SummaryYou can score your leads on as many criteria as you like, but we recommend starting with 5-7 and building from there. Take a look at your ideal customer profile and start setting up scores for each criterion. Maybe your perfect customer is a financial services firm with 10-20 employees located in the Tri-State area. If the firm uses Salesforce.com, has three or more open positions, and the VP Sales recently downloaded a white paper from your website, that lead is sales ready.

You should give each criterion a different max score based on how important it is to lead readiness. In the example above, Industry might get a max score of 10 points, number of employees 10 points, and location 20 points; Salesforce.com usage 10 points, open positions 20 points, and white paper download 30 points. Set up a Scoring Summary to clarify where different leads should be scored and which criteria are dealbreakers. Definitely don’t want to work outside the Tri-State area? Assign a negative value to any other location to bring that lead’s overall score down.

Let’s Get Started Targeting and Lead Scoring

To get started with targeting and lead scoring, you’ll need to collect some information on your current customers. As we mentioned above, you should have a very good idea of the type of customer that fits your product and service best so you can better attract and convert those customers.

This next point might seem obvious, but make sure to get input from your colleagues when developing targeting and scoring guidelines. Salesperson Sam and Salesperson Patty shouldn’t have radically different targets. You may find as you go through this exercise that Sam and Patty did have very different ideas of their target customer – and were experiencing different degrees of success. Get everyone on the same page and seeking the same targets by setting up your ideal customer profile.

We’ve developed a Workbook to help you get off on the right foot with targeting and lead scoring. Download it for free today and let us know what you think in the comments!

By | 2016-10-17T16:34:10+00:00 August 28th, 2014|Sales Leaders|2 Comments

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2 Comments

  1. JODIE DELISO July 20, 2015 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    I love the prospecting and targeting. So much sales advice is out there without this “funnel” of targeting to keep time valued. JD

    • Rebecca Smith July 20, 2015 at 4:22 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your feedback, Jodie!!

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