Of all the things your dealership could do in the next year to grow sales, what could move the needle more than anything else?
Creating a profile of your ideal client is an exercise that serves many purposes for any business that has limited resources (which is all businesses, right?). Especially in a B2B business, it is much more efficient and profitable to acquire, manage, and delight a client that you know your business is optimized to serve.
Profiling Your Ideal Client
If you have gone through the process of profiling your ideal client and haven’t looked at it for a while, or would like to validate your decision making process, here are 3 considerations to filter your work:
- Do they all want the same things?
- Is it efficient to deliver your products and services to all of your ideal clients?
- Are they all able to enjoy all of what you have to offer?
Do they want the same things?
As our Visionary Darrell Amy says in one of our previous blogs, “Buyers don’t buy products, they buy outcomes…people don’t buy drill bits, they buy holes.” To take it a step further, you need a hole in your wall for a specific reason. For example, I would like to be able to fly a flag in my front yard, but the front of the house is stucco, and hanging a flag mount on stucco is not all that easy.
So, while I actually need to buy a drill bit that can drill into stucco, what I am investing in is some sense of pride that I might get from flying the stars and stripes or raising a flag when the Baltimore Ravens are competing in the playoffs.
But let’s turn back to your ideal client profile: Do your ideal clients want the same outcomes?
Yes? If they do, it makes it a lot easier to connect with them using messaging that’s focused on the outcomes they want.
No? If they don’t, it will be hard to connect with your ideal prospects in your efforts to sell net-new business because your messaging may only resonate with some of these prospects.
Is it as efficient to deliver your products and services to all of your ideal clients?
Think of two fictitious restaurants as an analogy to illustrate this point:
- A+ Burgers: A restaurant that is all about burgers. They sell a yummy burger and a handful of simple complementary side dishes.
- Downtown Bistro: A restaurant that offers burgers, steak, chicken, and salads with some with an Italian twist, others with Asian spices, and some just plain American!
I love to eat, and anyone that knows me knows that I typically do extensive yelping before I make the seemingly life altering decision as to where to eat. I typically have a better experience and meal when I eat at a place that has a clear identity. I have found that the quality of the burger, steak, chicken, or salad that I might get at a restaurant like the Downtown Bistro is sub-par to a place that has a specialty like A+ Burgers.
Interestingly and more relevantly, A+ Burgers is more than likely able to deliver phenomenal burgers more efficiently with less cost than the Downtown Bistro is able to deliver their extensive, less-yummy menu of diverse offerings.
Is your business set up to do too many things for lots of customers? Or are your products and services well aligned to serve the needs of specific clients? Businesses that are more focused on a tightly defined ideal client typically have better client satisfaction.
I met with an associate recently that told me he had about 100 clients and annually goes through the exercise to fire the 6 of them. How cool is that? So, they fire the 6 clients that cause the biggest drain on his resources from either a time or emotional standpoint in order to serve the other 94 better. I’m quite confident the flywheel result of that is happier clients, resulting in more bandwidth to serve Ideal Clients. I am quite certain that it is not too hard for them to replace those 6!
Are they all able to enjoy all of what you offer?
Ideally your suite of products and services are targeted at your ideal client. Given that, you should be well positioned to expand your share of wallet with all of your ideal clients to maximize your revenue.
It is probably a good exercise to take a look at your client base. What percentage of them do you feel are a fit for everything that you offer? Going through that exercise should help you determine which ones you should be focusing your limited resources on. Not to say that you need to get rid of the ones that are not able to enjoy everything you do, but it should help you prioritize your efforts.
Speaking of limited resources, shouldn’t your sales and marketing efforts be focused on the ones that you can fully service? Having a focused, aligned sales and marketing strategy focused on the clients that can maximize your revenue seems like a good idea, huh?
Unless you have a limitless marketing budget and massive sales team, trying to sell to everyone is a recipe for failure. Both your message and efforts get diluted, lost in a vast ocean of noise. Plus, you end up wasting a lot of time talking to prospects who really don’t value what you do.
It’s kind of like your garden hose. When you first turn it on, there is a stream of water, but not much pressure. When you add a nozzle to the end, you can focus the stream of water and create pressure. If you want to kick it up a notch, connect your hose to a pressure washer.
The more you focus your stream of water, the more effective you can be. Similarly, the more you focus your marketing and sales efforts around ideal clients, the faster you can grow your business.
In Traction, Gino Wickman talks about building “The List”. We call the companies on this list, “Ideal Clients.”
Let’s explore how to identify ideal clients and focus your efforts to grow faster.
Building The List
In our Revenue Growth Workshops, we lead teams through the process of building their ideal client profile. At the end of the process, they have identified three things:
- Value: The revenue potential of an ideal client over 10 years
- Description: The characteristics of an ideal client
- Data Profile: The data profile of an ideal client
With the description and data profile in mind it is possible to identify “The List” talked about in Traction.
In reality, you should have two lists:
- Ideal Clients: Current clients that fit the profile of being an ideal client.
- Ideal Prospects: Target companies that fit the profile of an ideal client.
With your ideal client profile, it becomes possible to build a list of ideal prospects. These refined lists can be created with the help of data providers who can source information on the specific companies that fit your ideal client profile.
Once you know the companies that fit the profile, you also need data on the key decision makers and influencers in each of these companies.
What To Do With The List
These ideal clients and prospects should be clearly marked in your CRM and marketing automation systems. This makes it possible to track metrics around sales and marketing processes such as:
- 100% Management of ideal clients
- 100% Coverage of ideal prospects with prospecting
- Communication cadence with ideal clients
- Outbound marketing to ideal prospects
Processes can be created, trained, and documented in each of these four core areas.
Step one is to get clear about your list. The more focused your Ideal Client Profile, the more you can focus your marketing and sales efforts. This will help you accelerate your growth.
Want to grow revenue faster? Increase your pipeline velocity by reducing the friction between stages. How do you measure this? Here are two sales pipeline metrics to look at that can make a huge impact on your top line on the P&L:
- Conversion Rate: The % of clients that move from one stage of your pipeline to the next
- Time Spent in Stage: The amount of time that prospects spend in each stage of the pipeline
Stage Conversion Rate
The first thing to measure is the conversion rate between each stage in your pipeline. Simply calculated, what % of clients that come into any stage of the pipeline move to the next stage.
Here is a simple sales pipeline as an example:
- Qualify: 50% of qualify calls result in assessments
- Assess: 75% of assessments lead to proposals
- Propose: 25% of proposals lead to a signed contract and move to implementation
- Implement: 90% of clients finish the implementation and become clients
Most CRMs track these metrics as a default feature, but most sales teams do not closely consider how they can impact Stage Conversion Rate. Let’s look at how a 5% improvement on each stage can impact a business that has 50 opportunities per month move into a pipeline with an average transaction value of $50,000:
Using those example metrics, only a 5% improvement in each stage results in a 49% impact on Annual Revenue.
Time Spent in Stage
This is not a new metric either, nor is it hard to track. But, few sales organizations consider this metric as a way to impact performance. The time spent in each stage impacts:
- Business cash flow
- Sales productivity
- Cost per transaction
Let’s look at this metric a bit closer using the same simple pipeline example:
- Qualify: 3 days
- Assess: 2 weeks
- Propose (includes Proof-of-concept and negotiation): 2 Weeks
- Implement: 2 Weeks
Fair to say that these 2 metrics have a huge impact not only on your sales team but on your business as a whole. Easy to say, but how to you do it?
How To Reduce Pipeline Friction
Prospects encounter what we call friction as they move through the various stages of their buying process. Friction comes in the form of their own mental blocks that might be typical of each stage, or can unintentionally stem from your sales process. Here is an example of each:
- Mental Blocks: The natural tendency to resist change
- Your Sales Process: A proposal that does not clearly communicate ROI.
There are 2 approaches to minimizing friction to realize the results that you saw when you calculated the impact on your business using the calculator above:
- Align and improve the client experience
- Leverage content that helps your prospects navigate your pipeline
1. Align and Improve the Client Experience
The first step is to create an “ideal client” experience by broadening your sales process in both directions including both your top-funnel lead generation and your client stage of your pipeline. Ensuring that sales, marketing, and even operations are aligned with this experience is the first step in impacting the 2 metrics.
The second step is to have a process in place to continually optimize each stage in your experience to minimize friction to improve conversion rates and minimize the time spent in each stage. This approach will also help improve your actual “client” stage.
2. Leverage Content to Answer Questions
Ensuring your prospects and clients have their questions answered as they navigate your experience is critical to reducing friction. A simple 2 step process can put this into motion:
1. Implement a process for content creation that answers your clients’ questions as they navigate their experience with your organization. This process needs to be implemented into the culture of the organization with input from sales, marketing, and operations.
2. Put a plan in place to ensure the content gets in front of your Ideal Clients and Ideal Prospects. This plan involves leveraging this content in the following areas:
- Social touchpoints
- Phone prospecting messaging
- Email prospecting messaging
When all are on board with the Client Experience and the content plan around it, your clients have a more positive experience with your business. Maybe just as impactful, your sales team has 1 consistent framework to support clients through their experience as opposed to having 20 different approaches for 20 different reps.
Great News!: The top-funnel leads come as a product of your executing the above plan.
What metrics are you tracking to improve your hit rate and accelerate your sales cycles?
As we have previously written, Buyers Don’t Buy Products, They Buy Outcomes. I see a perfect example of this as I look out my window into my driveway. I bought a car to get to the places I need to get to support the outcomes that I need:
- Enjoying our home in the mountains to bike and ski.
- Get to the airport to fly somewhere to visit a client or an occasional trip for fun.
- Sustain day-to-day life at home.
I don’t drive very often, but the car I drive is reliable, it allows me to transport my gear and delivers the outcomes I need. Quite frankly, it is less than impressive for anyone that would consider themselves a car junkie. Sounds like I may be cheap but trust me that the outcomes I need require plenty of investment over and above a car.
The outcomes that your business delivers should be woven throughout the operational as well as the sales and marketing aspects of your business. Let’s focus on sales and marketing given this is your focus if you landed on this blog.
Outcomes are in play at each stage of the process that you have in place to help your ideal prospect to become an ideal client:
- Marketing/Prospecting: Your marketing plan should be targeted to attract businesses that are looking for outcomes that your company can deliver. Remember, Buyers Don’t Buy Products, They Buy Outcomes, so product-centric messaging makes it challenging or impossible for the target to understand what outcomes they might get from your product.
- Qualifying: The goal of the qualifying stage of a sales cycle is to determine if the buyer is a good fit for the outcomes that your company can generate and if they have resources to pay for your product or service.
- Discovery: The idea with the discovery stage of the sales cycle is to explore areas of need that your prospects have. Needs for all potential outcomes that you can deliver should be explored.
- Proposing/Recommending: Your proposal should be communicated in terms of the outcomes that your clients will receive if they invest in you.
- Enjoying your services: Your operational team should be focused on maximizing outcomes for your clients. From a sales perspective, you need to gather outcomes — actual, quantifiable metrics — from happy clients when you conduct periodic business reviews. Those metrics should then be used in the other stages of the buying process to help communicate your value.
Having a resource, let’s call it an Outcomes Framework, shared by the sales and marketing team that is updated regularly, and shared centrally between sales and marketing provides many benefits:
- Alignment: Historically, sales and marketing teams are at odds with each other. Sales teams need marketing to communicate properly to prospects in a language they understand (outcomes and value, not product specs). On the other hand, marketing relies on sales to gather outcomes to help them create messaging. Both need each other to be on the same page, and an outcomes framework is a great place to start!
- Effectiveness: Outcomes-based messaging resonates with prospects, so win rates go up when communicating in terms of outcomes.
- Efficiency: Having a centrally-shared resource in place for an entire sales team makes it significantly easier for sales teams to prepare for all calls. Better yet, it can take fewer calls to achieve the same result. How happy would your sales team be if you were able to cut in half the time that sales reps spend preparing for meetings and helping them win more deals?
Leveraging an Outcomes Framework with real-world client success stories can be a game-changer for your revenue generation team.
4.7 million people work from home in the United States [source]. The need for collaboration and meeting with co-workers does not go away when people transition to working from home, so it is no surprise that products like Zoom Meeting have realized huge growth.
The recent Coronavirus spread is creating challenges for sales teams that did not need to make this transition to meeting virtually until now. My anticipation is that the number of people that work from home will be drastically increased for the long-term once we get back to normal.
Virtual or not, We have all been in our share of meetings that were good, productive meetings and others that were a waste of time for all involved. So, ensuring that you can effectively conduct a meeting is critical in business continuity during these times.
The 3 keys to having quality virtual meetings are:
- Use of tools and technologies
- Engagement techniques
Failing to plan is planning to fail. The nature of virtual meetings makes planning even more important. Here are some specific things you can do to plan for a fantastic meeting:
- Prepare an agenda, and stick to it: Your agenda should include items that you would be able to cover given the time allotted. Send the agenda out to all participants prior. One good practice is to present each topic as a question. If the topic does not answer a question, then you may want to consider the relevance of the topic.
- Prepare questions: More on engagement later, but the last thing virtual meeting participants want is a lecture. Asking the right questions in a meeting promotes healthy thinking. Asking the low-value questions compromises the integrity of the message. Prepare high-value questions that generate thought and support the intended message.
- Prepare your environment: Prepare your background. Ensure it is professional, yet has a bit of character in it as well. Arrive early so that you are able to test out all technology and be there when participants arrive to set the tone and ensure they use a camera if at all possible. Ensure you are dressed appropriately and positioned properly in front of your camera such that you are close enough to be seen.
- Plan meeting key points and takeaways: For all topics, ensure you are ready to summarize the main points and any follow up items from the meeting. You will likely add to the list during the meeting as well if you succeed in creating an engaging environment.
Use of tools and technology
Improper use of tools and technology can derail any meeting regardless of how prepared you are with your message. Specifically:
- Use a video conferencing platform like Zoom: We have conducted meetings virtually with screen-sharing tools for some time, but our transition to using Zoom a couple of years ago was a complete game-changer for our meetings. Zoom makes balancing video conferencing and content sharing easy and, unlike previous applications that we used, does so reliably
- Use webcams: Most people have a webcam integrated into their computers. Use it! If a picture tells a thousand words, video conferencing tells a million. Seeing the faces of participants eliminates the biggest challenge with remote meetings
- Presentation Software: Many use PowerPoint, we use the Google Apps suite. Highly designed animation can actually be a bit distracting, so this shouldn’t take too much time. Regardless of what you use, ensure you have bullets and visuals as needed to support your message. When you use text, use short snippets of big ideas, and don’t use too much text as you want to deliver the message with your voice.
When I was in college, my Astronomy class (we had to take a lab science!) was a lecture with a couple of hundred students. My literature classes were a lot smaller, which made it a lot easier to create an engaging environment.
There are many ways that you can create an engaging meeting to increase its effectiveness:
- Proper use of questions: Leveraging different types of questions can be very effective in increasing engagement. Here is a blog that talks to different types of questions. Overhead questions are put out there for anyone to answer and can be challenging to control the group when it is a question that a lot have opinions on. It is also not great when you hear crickets after you ask an overhead question. Direct questions, relay questions, and reverse questions are great in getting your participants to engage.
- As participants to share ideas or even present a module: Sending out the agenda prior and asking participants to do some homework prior is a great way to get folks prepared to share ideas. If appropriate, delegate topics to others to lead.
- Use chat, polls, or other tools in your video conferencing platform: Using different tools effectively keeps people engaged. If you can find a good use for a poll in your content, use it! Chat is a great way to gather insight from participants as an alternative to asking overhead questions. The # of participants in the meeting helps you evaluate which might be most effective. Larger meetings may require you to use a “Listen Only” feature and enable users to interact with chat.
Ensuring you are able to facilitate virtual meetings effectively can minimize the impact of our new reality. Put these things into practice to minimize the disruption to your business.