Now that you understand some of the basic principles of targeting, let’s walk through the specific steps in the sales targeting process.
In general, you’ll want to start broadly, then get more specific.
Develop Company-Level Criteria
As the first step in your sales targeting process, establish criteria for what kinds of companies you are targeting.
Consider basic criteria such as geography, industry, and size. Then work to identify additional criteria, such as business drivers or development stage.
An approach targeting small life sciences startups in Silicon Valley will be very different than an approach targeting global Fortune 500 companies involved in mergers and acquisitions.
One important company-level consideration is funding. If your solution is a significant investment, work to identify company criteria that tend to ensure potential clients can afford you. Make sure you are fishing in the right pond!
Similarly, consider public vs. private companies. Is one a better target for your company?
Identify Individual Criteria
Once you have identified your ideal company types, break it down to an individual level. What roles and titles are typically involved in engaging your business?
It’s important to distinguish between decision-makers and influencers. And depending on your sales process, your point of entry might target different roles.
Consider other individual criteria that might influence your ideal targets. Is career stage an important consideration? What about how well networked this person is inside and outside their organization? Does the person’s public persona matter? What about the size of the team they manage?
Your buyer personas should combine both company and individual criteria to develop a full picture of the kind of person you are targeting. This is a key component in your sales targeting process.
Establish Qualifiers and Disqualifiers
For both companies and individuals, establish both qualification and disqualification criteria. This will impact your internal approval process and can greatly improve your close ratio.
If you can quickly disqualify the wrong targets, your team will be spending their time and energy focusing on the right ones.
Consider all of the criteria you identified in the previous two steps. Which of them are deal-breakers? Do you prefer to work with private companies or do you refuse to work with public companies?
Do you find it easiest to work with people who have just started in their roles, or is that the only situation your solution fits?
Wherever possible, automate qualification and disqualification. Your marketing and CRM systems should automatically archive unqualified leads so the team only sees the right ones. On the other hand, you can set it up to automatically assign qualified leads to the right sales reps.
This is the most important part of your sales targeting process to automate.
Build Lead Scoring and Approval Processes
Qualifiers and disqualifiers paint with a broad brush. Within the scope of qualified leads, develop lead scoring and approval processes to drive the sales team’s focus.
As with disqualification, use automation wherever possible for lead scoring and approval. Most marketing systems provide lead scoring automation, where you can give leads points for positive criteria such as engagement, title, or company size.
As the sales team works qualified leads, some opportunities might be automatically approved while others might require management review. This could be based on overall budget (small or large) or offering type.
Don’t add unnecessary bottlenecks to your sales process, but establish some checkpoints so you can make sure the sales team isn’t running with opportunities that don’t align with your ideal targets.
Now that you’ve done all this targeting, you’ll need to actually generate some leads.
Look back at your buyer personas and consider where your ideal targets spend their time (in person and online) and who they trust.
Identify places where you can contribute content to establish your organization as a thought leader. If all of your ideal targets attend a certain type of conference, someone from your organization should probably be on a panel or delivering a keynote.
If your targets tend to read certain websites, blogs, and magazines, see if you can write guest posts and articles. Consider advertising on those platforms.
Do your targets watch a lot of CNBC and Fox Business? Consider engaging a PR team to help your organization get airtime. This could be in the form of an interview, sponsored content, or advertising.
What centers of influence do your ideal targets tend to trust? These can be organizations or individuals. For example, a CEO of a mid-sized business might ask her attorney to recommend a wealth manager. For more general business advice, she might have a board, be part of a peer coaching organization, or have a business coach. Establish relationships with appropriate centers of influence.
And of course, you can always buy or generate a list of targets based on your criteria. But don’t expect to just reach out to them cold. Just because someone is an ideal target doesn’t mean they will immediately be ready to buy!
I hope this sales targeting process works for you!
Please leave your feedback and suggestions in the comments.
And don’t forget to check out The Ultimate Guide to Sales Targeting: How to Attract and Pursue the RIGHT Leads for Your Business.