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4 Best Practices for Better Targeting

October 30, 2018
4 Best Practices for Better Targeting

So why is better targeting important?

We often see that companies start to grow by getting whatever business they can. They stretch themselves outside their areas of expertise to fund growth.

Depending on how far they go, this isn’t always a big deal. In fact, sometimes it can help companies identify opportunities to develop solutions the market needs.

But in general, it’s not a good idea to just take whatever business you can get. If you want to develop a strong organization with core capabilities and predictable results, you need to sell the same kinds of things to the same kinds of people. As you do this over and over again, you’ll build systems and processes to support the selling and delivery functions.

So how can you identify who these targets are? Here are four best practices for better targeting.

Research Your Ideal Clients

The easiest way to identify your ideal targets is to look at your current client list. What do your best clients look like?

Note that I said best, not biggest. You may find that some of your biggest projects aren’t actually the best kinds of opportunities to target moving forward. On the other hand, you might find that many of your clients seem to have similar needs and characteristics.

If you’ve been in business for a while and have a large number of current and former clients, identify your best clients and then divide them into a few categories.

Consider what products and services they buy, their budgets, and your points of contact – both decision-makers and influencers. This should provide you a general baseline for better targeting, including who to target and what you’ll be trying to sell to these targets.

Here’s a simple example…

Let’s say you have one group of clients where your main point of contact is the Director of Operations. This person typically buys a software solution as well as an implementation package, generally ranging from $500k-$1M.

You might also have another group of clients where you typically engage with a manager within a specific department such as supply chain management. Maybe these clients generally already have a software solution in place, but you provide analysis and training solutions ranging from $250-500k.

But what if you don’t have many clients?

If you are starting up a new department, or if your whole company has yet to close many or any deals, you won’t be able to look at an existing client base to identify targets.

In this case, you’ll need to do an entirely different kind of research. You’ll want to identify answers to the following questions.

  1. What is the solution you are providing?
  2. Who else offers the same or a similar solution?
  3. Who buys that solution? Consider both the company and the individual buyer within a company.
  4. What is the total market for that solution?
  5. How much of the market is potentially available to you?
  6. How is your solution different than what’s currently available on the market?
  7. Will those differences interest a different type of buyer?
  8. Is there a specific area in the market that’s currently underserved?

Use this research to refine your solution as well as your go-to-market and targeting approaches.

Use Buyer Personas

As you work toward better targeting, take the time to develop rich buyer personas for your ideal clients.

Rather than simply getting basic data such as industry and title, work to develop a specific profile of the buyer you are targeting.

Consider demographic and even psychographic information. It’s much easier to target female CEOs of technology companies in the Pacific Northwest or owner/operators of property insurance providers in the Midwest than just to generally target CEOs.

And if you can identify common concerns, tendencies, and business drivers your ideal buyers share, you’ll get even more information about your targets.

As with the previous point, if you already have a large number of clients, combine a few of them to create each of your buyer personas.

To learn more about leveraging buyer personas, check out our eBook on Sales & Marketing Alignment.

Free eBook: Sales & Marketing Alignment: 3 Critical Areas Where Collaboration is Essential

Engage Marketing

And speaking of sales and marketing alignment, it’s essential that you engage marketing as you identify your ideal targets.

If you need to run a research project, marketing may already have the skills and tools to manage it. And as you work to process the data, it’s important to keep marketing involved. They will provide a valuable perspective.

As you finalize your targets, you’ll want to work with marketing on a plan for how they will engage these targets. Marketing typically provides the foundation of both inbound marketing and outbound lead generation.

Here are some things you’ll want to plan for.

  1. What content will marketing produce that’s targeted to these ideal buyers?
  2. What does marketing already have that can be leveraged?
  3. How will sales work with marketing to help plan and develop content?
  4. Where and how will content be shared?
  5. What events will they produce?
  6. Where will you find these buyers at conferences and trade shows?
  7. What, where, and how will you advertise to these targets?
  8. How will marketing capture leads and hand them off to sales?
  9. How will marketing support sales with LinkedIn targeting?

As you work with marketing, you’ll be able to continually refine your targeting.

Update Your Targets

It’s not enough to conduct a one-time exercise to identify your ideal targets. As your company and the market change, your ideal targets will change too.

Develop a plan for reviewing and updating your ideal targets on a regular basis. For a well-established company, an annual target review may be adequate. If you are quickly growing or just starting up, you’ll want to check in more often – maybe quarterly.

As you work to update your targets, keep a few questions in mind.

  1. Do you have a new type of buyer?
  2. Are you selling different solutions?
  3. Has one of your ideal targets lost interest, or have you tapped out the market for them?
  4. Does your solution align with market trends?
  5. Is there an opportunity for expansion, such as a new territory or a complementary offering?
  6. How does your delivery capacity impact future targeting?

The answers to these questions will tell you how you will need to update your targets.

I hope these best practices for better targeting are helpful as you work to improve targeting in your organization!

Do you have ideas for better targeting?

If so, please share them in the comments! And don't forget to check out my latest eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Sales Targeting.

Complimentary eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Sales Targeting: How to Attract and Pursue the RIGHT Leads for Your Business

2 Comments

    • Elizabeth Frederick - Reply

      Thank you, Henry!

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