In a perfect world, a salesperson would only spend time talking to prospects whose problems his or her company could solve. More prospects would become customers, and the selling process would be far more efficient.
Geologists are paid handsomely to identify specific geological features that predict a greater likelihood that oil or mineral deposits are present. These geological features don’t guarantee that the deposits are there; they just improve the chances by showing where to drill. The same concept applies to marketing and selling. Your ideal prospects have secret characteristics that can be correlated to a greater likelihood they will buy from you.
Every industry has examples of secret characteristics. Walmart used predictive technology to identify that strawberry Pop-Tarts sell seven times faster in the southern U.S. when a hurricane is approaching. And financial advisers, though they don’t have access to a powerful database like the retail giant’s, know that their best prospects are when people change jobs, at which time they are likely to employ a CPA. In the same way, remodelers know that a homeowner with a penchant for certain musical hobbies correlates to a customer more willing to spend on quality craftsmanship.
But salespeople must drill down even deeper. Before presenting solutions, they must identify specific problems that their firm can solve, as well as how those problems affect the cost. Unsuccessful salespeople pitch first and listen second, only to find themselves in an endless loop of follow-ups with prospects who want to “think it over” because they’re unable to financially justify making a purchase.
Remember, knowing your ideal prospect’s secret characteristics won’t automatically close the sale. You’ll still need to ask questions to uncover why they should buy from you before you present. But your close ratio will go up. And you can save a lot of time and money by not marketing to and following up with prospects who are unlikely to buy from you.