One of my friends is a consummate fishermen, he meticulously plans each fishing trip and obsesses over details:
I find it curious how many entrepreneurs, sales managers, and sales professionals simply “wing it” when it comes to selecting the customers they are pursuing. They seem to aimlessly cast about hoping to catch a customer without a real plan addressing who makes a good customer and why.
A corollary observation is many organizations don’t give their sales teams or individual sales professionals direction as to who to pursue and why. The result is relegating a critical decision to a sales professional who may or may not understand or even be worried about the strategic direction of the company’s revenue stream.
Without casting negative dispersions a sales professionals, generally by nature they focused on what’s best for them, specifically how they can earn the highest compensation. Many times their compensation is not tied to any well thought out organizational strategy, leaving management and sales people fishing arbitrarily and certainly not aligned.
What is the solution? We recommend management and the sales organization jointly address and answer three questions:
Is there an opportunity?
This is a very fundamental question and you would be surprised how much time, energy and money is wasted as sales professionals who just try to catch any fish (customer) with no forethought.
This exercise is best engaged in with management and the sales team…do these (x, y, & z) types of customers use or could use our menu of goods and services?
If yes then develop a list of prospects that everyone agrees to.
Can we compete and win?
This is a sobering question that requires some introspection and a serious reality check.
Determining if you can compete on a local, regional, national or international level is critical. Often small to medium size businesses over-extend themselves and engage in wishful thinking about their skill set, logistical capabilities and resources to compete in all four of these markets effectively.
Focusing your time, money and talent strategically is paramount to utilizing the precious resource you have with the right customers.
Is the business worth winning?
This question underscores the need for management to review if the organization has the money, resources, time, capacity and people to win.
The bottom line is can your organization operate profitably with the expected margins certain types of market segments afford?
Is the organization or sales team trying to capture a certain customer like everyone else or is there a well thought out strategic reason to do so?
A finally thought, answering these three simple questions can prevent wasted time, energy, and money. Additionally, serve as the foundation for establishing a strategic sales plan and aligning the entire sales organization, thus selecting the right customers for the right reasons!
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