Developing Opportunities

by Robert Driscoll on December 3, 2009

76092355On October 29th, the US Department of Commerce stated that the US economy grew in the third quarter for the first time in over a year, signaling the end of the worst recession in over 70 years.    Even though we are “out” of the recession, do you still feel like your customers are not buying and hesitant to move forward on projects?  Do you feel more and more pressure to bring in new opportunities for your company?  Unfortunately, regardless of the economic condition of the marketplace, as salespeople, we are required to perform as our company’s success is directly tied to our individual success.

In a previous post (What I Wish I Knew More About In Sales #2: Know What To Quit), I discussed how it’s important to learn when to quit opportunities so that you can focus more time on those that have a higher probability of closing.  Following this process in today’s difficult marketplace is more important than ever as it’s more difficult today to find qualified and real opportunities, but just as important to focus more on those opportunities that are realistic. 

In today’s post, I will discuss some basic steps that you can use to develop an ideal customer profile which are the business characteristics that your organization looks for in your customers to sell your products and services and to drive them to do so now. 

In developing the ideal customer profile, go through your list of accounts and try to answer the following questions for each one:

  1. What does your product/service do?
  2. What do your customers do in lieu of your product or service? 
  3. If they are using a competitor’s product or service, what marginal value does your product/service offer that the competitor’s does not?
  4. With your product/service, how would it improve your customers’ productivity, efficiency, security, etc…?
  5. What characteristics would cause your customer to have/care about your product/service?
  6. Without your product/service, who in the organization is likely to benefit if they were to have it (individual contributor through CEO)?

Going through your list of customers and being able to answer these questions results in:

  1. A list of information to gather to determine where we have opportunities
  2. Targeted contacts who will be interested in solving the problem

The next step is to gather information about your customers.  Decision makers are not necessarily the right contacts for gathering information.  In addition to looking at any sales history you might have and any research you can gather via the internet about your customer(s), you can also gather information from secretaries, receptionists, their sales people and their customers.

Once you have answered the questions above and gathered information about your customer(s), you are now ready to sell the appointment with a targeted executive and to truly start developing your opportunities.

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