The best sales skills in the world won’t help if you’ve selling to someone who can’t buy.
That’s a hard-earned lesson in the field of sales, and unfortunately, most salespeople only half-learn it. They pursue prospects that aren’t a great fit for their product, service, or company, in the hopes that they can overcome quality with volume.
To help us systemize how to find high-quality prospects, we sat down with Sarah Jane Hicks, a sales consultant who helps organizations capture their sales systems into playbooks that everyone can benefit from. She walked us through how any salesperson can systemize how to find and qualify high-quality prospects so we can not only sell better but sell more.
Because we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T – Trigger: Sarah recommended that the trigger for systemizing great prospects happens before we even begin researching online, in databases or searching LinkedIn. It starts, she says, by setting parameters around what a great prospect looks like. That means triggering this system before you need to put new prospects in your pipeline, as it takes more time to determine great prospects than simply finding someone with the same job title as a past customer.
R – Repeatable: To make this system repeatable, Sarah says to look at the top 20% of your customers and ask a few key questions to build out your ‘ideal customer profile’. This will ensure you’re targeting the most profitable customers and not just the ones easiest to sell. These questions are:
Who are our best clients currently?
What made them our best clients?
What job title(s) do they have?
What size of companies do they work for/in? Is there anything unique about the companies our ideal prospects work in that we should look to replicate?
Where are those companies located (rural, urban, by community, state, country, etc.)?
Once you determine the ideal customer profile on objective metrics, it’s time to further refine the list and look for which prospects, among your ideal ones, will be the most fun to work with. To discover who these folks are, talk to the top 20% of your current clients and ask about the impact your solution has had to them/their businesses. Examine what the risk of inaction would have been, had they not purchased from you. If they’ve tried to solve that big problem by themselves, what were their results and what challenges did they have?
Once you identify a company and a person (or people) who fit that profile, build out a basic contact profile in your CRM that includes name, email, phone numbers, mailing address, LinkedIn profile URL, company website URL, and
I – Improvable: To improve the way you systemize how you source prospects, Sarah recommends checking for trends and challenges in your ideal prospect’s world at least quarterly if not monthly. That way, you can stay ahead of what is challenging your ideal prospects and iterate your outreach and the challenges you say you solve. (Hint: Those challenges/solutions should align with the trends you’re seeing come up in your monthly search.)
M – Measurable: Sarah says to measure the effectiveness of how well you’re finding great prospects, don’t just look at closed sales. Instead, start at the top of the funnel to determine if the prospects you’re reaching out to are converting into meetings faster than the run-of-the-mill prospects. Does your experience in successful selling to folks like them make it easier to turn that initial meeting into a presentation or opportunity in your pipeline? And are the dollar values on these kinds of deals better than your standard prospect? If you’re mirroring your top 20% of prospects, your sales cycle should be faster, conversion easier, and more profitable.