Cream of the Crop

Written by: Steve Marks

Use a strategic approach to identify your top customer prospects

Do you know what the ideal customer or account for your organization should look like? You may have even developed your whole business platform around this account. Maybe you’re unsure or don’t know what a great prospect should look like. Developing a framework for determining who your top prospects should be is an important task for any entrepreneur. Take a step back and analyze your most successful accounts and determine what is consistent about each of them. Do they have certain attributes that you can identify? Maybe they all have a geographic connection? The way they make decisions? Try and identify 10 to 15 attributes of these accounts looking for trends or peculiarities?

Now start to give relative importance to each of the attributes by assigning point values to each item. As a way to gauge if you are on the right track, your top current accounts should have high scores. This process won’t be easy and it could take a long time to harness the right approach for success. Your approach will undoubtedly come with constant refinement, adjustments and changes, but the time spent on this process will be well worth it. Once you have defined your attributes and determined a scoring system, you can now start to apply them to prospects.

Focus on your questions

The next step in the process is to do the necessary research to give scores to prospects. Again, this won’t be easy…you will need to be both creative and persistent in gathering this data. In our business, we have found that simply calling the prospect and asking them the necessary questions works best. We are careful to not try and “sell them” during the call. The prospect needs to know that we are merely gathering information. This approach usually results in the prospect being more forthcoming with useful information. Each industry will have its own quirks and nuances, but our experience has proven that spending the important time now on this research will prove to be efficient and rewarding in the future.

Develop a strategy

After your research is complete, you can start to score your prospects and determine where you should best marshal your resources and plot a comprehensive strategy targeting these accounts.

If you are certain that these prospects are the ideal account, then they will be on your target list forever until they either become an account or cease to be the ideal account from some new revelation. This is an important mindset to take hold of. Take the approach that you won’t give up and that your persistence will eventually win the day.  For most sales-minded individuals, this will be an important paradigm shift and will take some time to get used to. Imagine the amount of focus you can generate if your prospect list is fairly small and constant. Why spend time, energy and resources on the bottom prospects when you should be going for the cream of the crop?