Meridith Elliott Powell: All right, here we go. Welcome to Sales Logic, the show where we dive into the strategies. We talk about the steps and give you everything that you need to know to sell logically in today’s uncertain marketplace. I’m Meridith Elliott Powell, and I’m here with my co-host,
Mark Hunter: Mark Hunter, the Sales Hunter. It’s great to see you again. We’ve got a good show planned.
Meridith Elliott Powell: We do. We’re talking about some, some hot topics and some good things on the, on the agenda. Before we dive in, though, I want to remind all of our listeners how this show works. We always start off with, with our question of, of the day that comes from one of you, our listeners, we always invite you to, To send us a question either at, saleslogicpodcast.com, or just put it out there on the social networking sites with #saleslogic, and we will find it.
And you just might be featured here on this show. Second part of the show is we dive into the topic. Then, we finish up with a lightning round because what we want you to get the most from this show is a return on investment of your time, right? We’ll give you some key takeaways and things that you can implement immediately to sell more logically, effectively and increase your bottom line.
So, Mark, why don’t you kick us off today and talk a little bit about what we have going?
Mark Hunter: Hey, here’s the topic we’re going to be digging into. It’s what everybody else is talking about right now, which is, how do you have a perfect client? How do you have that perfect customer? And how do you find them? Where do you find them? Which really is really kind of the question that we got here. The question came from Peter in Atlanta. Let me read you the question. “I have leads. I’ve been working since before COVID and still nothing. When do I walk away from them and move on?”
Hey, believe me. We’ve all got a bit of hanging out there. Not just before this. It is not just due to COVID, but I think it got accelerated from COVID. When should we walk away from a lead? When should we walk away from what might be an opportunity?
Meridith Elliott Powell: You know, I think this is a challenging question because I don’t necessarily think it’s about walking away. Rather, it’s about learning to prioritize your time.
Personally, I divide my leads into A, B’s and C’s. My A’s, I mean, not terribly innovative, right. But my A’s are my really hot prospects. What I mean by a hot prospect doesn’t even mean that they’re ready to buy just yet. It can just mean as much as the fact that they’re a really good fit and their need is really high.
B is a lead that I’m still working on. They haven’t necessarily indicated that they’re ready to buy, and C is either a lead that’s gone incredibly cold or has shown a disinterest. If a prospect I still really think is a good fit for me and I haven’t gotten any high indicators as to why she’d walk away, I leave them on there as a C. The reason I don’t mind is because C’s are not a big investment of my time or resources. I might send them a copy of my newsletter just to stay visible. I might drop him something around the new year, holiday and check in somewhere around mid-summer, but that’s it.
My goal is to turn a C into a B or an A. So I answered that just a little bit differently. I think it’s more about when do you stop investing a lot of time, energy and resources on them. What do you think Mark?
Mark Hunter: Well, I think it’s so true. It is about knowing when to invest and when not to invest.
Two things that I, well, actually there’s three criteria that I use is this. One, how closely do they fit into my ICP, my ideal customer profile? We’ll be talking about that. And the topic two, how big of an opportunity is it? Third and finally, is it connected to something else I’m already doing? In other words, is it a spinoff of something I’ve already got going so then it’s an easy fit.
I use those three criteria because if it’s a big, if it’s somebody who really fits into my ideal customer profile, even if I don’t receive any kind of response from them, they’re not going away. I’m going to stay focused on them and keep, I mean, drip on them as much, but I’m still going to drip on them.
Flip side is somebody who I’ve been, you know, really trying to get hold of but they’re not really in the ICP. After six months or after four months, they’re gone, but I basically keep them in a cycle and my cycle kind of works about a six-week cycle. I’ll work on you for six weeks, and if you don’t move, I’ll throw you out unless you fit that ICP or unless you’ve hit that big opportunity. Then, you’re going to stay there.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. The reason I think this is so challenging is because one of the biggest mistakes I know that I see salespeople make is that they spend so much time and energy trying to close a deal that either isn’t going to close, or if it does close, it’s going to be such a pain. That you’re going to wish it didn’t close.
I think it’s, you know, all honesty to answer your question really well, it’s that you need to do a little bit of introspection and you need to think about yourself and ask, is this a good use of my time? What’s the likelihood that this is going to close and if it does close, does this person match my value system?
Years ago, when I used to train my own sales team, we used a grid and Mark talked about your ICP, your ideal client profile. At the top of that grid, we would have all the characteristics of the ideal client profile. You know, the industry they worked in, their ability to make a decision, their geographics, you know, region was how high and urgent their needs was. Then, down the side, we would put in our prospects and depending on how they lined up, they had to meet five or more of those ICP criteria for us to continue forward with them. Using that grid was just a great way to objectively look at people.
I think one of the things we have is salespeople who get so turned on by the chase, right? I mean, part of it is I just want to get this person, to close, but you’ve got to have a way or a tool to step back and really ask yourself, is this the best use of my time? Because as salespeople, we have to remember saying yes to one prospect is saying no to others.
Mark Hunter: That is so spot on because you can chase somebody that isn’t worth chasing. I mean, this is like the dog that’s chasing the car. This is what I feel so many salespeople are there. They’re their dog chasing the car. Even if you caught it, what would you do with it? Nothing. It’s not worth it. I, I use the line, “you can’t take a Walmart shopper and make them a Nordstrom customer.” You were talking about the ideal customer and the five criteria. I always, whenever I’m working with clients, we’ll build out the ICP and, and, we may have anywhere from three to 15 criteria. I tell them that if this prospect doesn’t line up at least 70% of the way there of an ICP, you better have a really good reason as to why you’re spending time with, because otherwise all you’re doing is wasting time.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, that takes us into today’s topic. Why don’t you tell us what’s on the table with the topic and let’s dive in?
Mark Hunter: The topic is everyone talks about having a perfect customer, you know, having perfect customers, so what’s the process to create them?
That’s an interesting question, because do you create a perfect customer or do you find a perfect customer? I’m going to throw that one onto your plate. Answer that.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Okay. Sort of like a, it’s sort of like a chicken or an egg, right. I really think it’s a little bit of a combination of, of both. You know, it’s sort of reminds me of dating, you know, I always found the perfect guy, but I had to fix him up just a little bit to get him, to get him right over the edge. But it’s kind of that way with the customer. I mean, customers are perfect in the sense that they are enthusiastic. They’re interested. They listen, they want to buy, they’re really believe that your product can make a difference. You know, for them at the same time, part of your role as a sales professional is to educate them on the possibilities beyond what they’re thinking. That ensures that relationship goes deep and wide so they become the perfect customer.
I also think you need to define for you what the perfect customer is. I mean, you know, what’s the depth of relationship that you’re looking for. Are you looking for referrals beyond that? Are you looking for somebody? I’ve got clients that, you know, we sell really big, heavy equipment. We’re not looking necessarily for a lot of repeat business because it just doesn’t lend itself to that. You buy a piece of equipment. It’s probably going to last 15 to 20 years. I have other clients that, you know, the product is only good for a year. So we want that engagement to be, you know, return. You need to define it, identify people that fit the ideal profile and then educate them as to what perfection could be for both of you.
Mark Hunter: You know, it’s interesting. Cause I had to ask you about creating the perfect customer. Or do you find that for the customer? And I love asking salespeople and sales managers that question a lot. So many times they say, well, we find them and, I’m glad you said that you don’t develop them.
If all you do is find them, all you’re doing is customer service. That’s all you’re doing. You know, sales is incremental. I want to have an ICP and other criteria of the persona of that perfect customer. And I’m going to start building that. The first piece I’m going to ask myself is can I deliver an outcome that they’re looking for? I get that by looking at my core customers. If they don’t line up to begin with, I don’t even want to go down that path. You know why? It’s too easy again for us, just because, you know, you will look like a perfect customer. It doesn’t mean you’re going to act like a perfect customer. It doesn’t mean your needs are going to be the same.
So you do have to be really tight. You know, I can pick up on your comment. It’s like when you’re dating, you know? Yeah. You could wind up with a real lousy guy.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Well, and, vice versa. I mean, I don’t think it is the client’s responsibility to know how to be perfect. I mean, let’s go back to, you know, dating or, or marriage, or just being in a relationship with anybody. I mean, you sort of have to learn how to adjust to be right for one and other. Well for customers, it’s not their responsibility to understand our products and services and how our products and services can benefit their lives.
For you, you may say that a customer is somebody I have a really strong relationship with. They have a number of our products or services. They always come to me first. To ask questions. They refer me business. Well, if you’re not developing and cultivating that in them, that’ll never happen no matter how shiny a suit they have when they show up at the door, because they don’t understand how to utilize you until you as a sales professional, help them, help them understand, understand how to do that. And that’s our job and the value we bring to the table.
Mark Hunter: Which brings up a good point because ideal customers are not ones that you’re lazy with. Ideal customers are not, well, they’re an ideal customer because they don’t require much work. Really got to stop and ask yourself, are they really an ideal customer?
Are you creating incremental opportunities with them? Are you finding ways to help them in ways that they didn’t realize? You know what I hear people say, they’ve got the perfect customers but they never ask anything. They just placed their orders. I go, “Hey, all you’ve got is an annuity. That’s going to eventually go away, so you better find a way to nurture it.”
So, you know, perfect customers are continually evolving and as well as the COVID environment. There’s changes you have to make to your criteria for an ideal customer profile. Yeah. I’m not all about changing everything, but, you have to be prepared to say that maybe there’s some criteria in your ICP that you had before COVID that maybe is not as important right now.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. You know, one of the biggest things I think, especially is because so many sales professionals now we’re selling online. I know one of the biggest criteria we had for, for ideal was that we could reach them physically within our geographic region. That, that right there has, has, you know, changed so much. I mean, you have so much more opportunity to, you know, to engage with people, beyond the other, is that, the urgent needs of my ideal customers, my perfect customer before COVID and now, those are very, different because their needs have changed, change the products and services that I deliver, even if they haven’t exactly changed from a physical standpoint, they’ve changed in, in the value that they bring in how I position them in the marketplace. I think you make a really great point around that.
Mark Hunter: That whole talk about geography has come up in several conversations. I’ve been having with the companies because they say, okay, in this COVID world, there is no geographical boundaries because you know, like we can touch base with anybody and anywhere in the world. And then they sit there and say, yeah, COVID, it’s going to end eventually. And we will be back to our own ways. Yes, but don’t think for a moment that geographic boundaries are going to come back into play 100%, because they’re not. You better be prepared to ask yourself how you can continue to operate in this COVID world long-term.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, I think the geographic boundaries are only going to come back if you want them to come back. I mean, I think that first of all, nobody has a flipping clue what’s going to happen after COVID and I think it’s 50/50. I think it’s all up in the air, but the truth is if I decided as a sales professional that I want to intimately get involved with my community, just like I was before COVID. and then I still want to sell quite a bit online and I want to sell around the world. I think if you make that decision, you’re in the driver’s seat, which is really everything that we’re talking about when it comes to creating the perfect client, right? If you, as the sales professional, flip the script and you decide, okay, I’m controlling this relationship in the sense that I’m going to help my customers really understand how they could become my perfect customer.
Not because I just want perfect customers, but by creating the perfect customer, it means I can do more to help them than I can any other customer. So creating perfect customers is, is, better for your customer as, as it is good for you. But can’t happen for your customer unless your doing it. So anything that returns or doesn’t return after COVID really up to us to decide, because if we want to continue to sell virtually people will certainly be open to it. I mean COVID changed that forever. At the same time, well, we want to see people physically, we want to connect in person. Absolutely. Those things will come back.
Mark Hunter: Again, you just triggered a thought in my mind that too many people view ICP and they say, Hey, is my ideal customer profile as if they’re just a rain barrel. They just capture the rain. And when we have to be, especially in this cold world, just be a rain maker. And you’re a rain maker not only with your ICP, but also with anybody else, because I have seen many, many companies and salespeople who take a customer, a prospect that lines a little bit, but you know, strategically where they’re going.
So, you know, strategically in six months are they’re going to be that ideal customer for you. So you know what you want to get them on board because you’re going to help lead them to where they become an ICP for you. Chances are, if they’re an ICP for you, they’re going to see you as incredibly important to them.
And I’ll argue this that I see in too many organizations when you go through and do a customer profit analysis, and this is boy, a deep process. But if you do a customer profit analysis, I see too many times where ICP’s are low margin because they’ve allowed them to get the upper hand with you the salesperson you, the sales company. And I want to make sure if I’m doing it right, if I’m really bringing you value and you’re a real ICP, then really you’re going to be a higher margin customer to me. And there’s going to be no problem because you’re getting more value from me and that’s fine. That’s fine.
Meridith Elliott Powell: You know, the, honestly, somebody shouldn’t be your perfect client, unless they’re a high margin customer. You can have all the other things that you love about them. They’re easy to work with. They love you. They buy their products, they buy your products. They always take your call. But if at the end of the day you’re doing that work for nothing, that’s not a perfect client.
Mark Hunter: But how many times do we see companies? I mean selling to customers where they’re making zero margin, you know, all are all, always knew that 20% of your customers are delivering 80% of your margin. And you can’t, you gotta make sure that that 20% that’s delivering 80%, they are in your ICP and the others are working to become part of your ICP. Otherwise you don’t want them around.
Hey yeah, we should probably move into the lightning round before you do that. Hey, big shout out to Vanilla Soft great sponsors. Thank you. Darryl pro sales enablement, really at the next level, because what it really allows you to do for all those of you salespeople out there who no longer have trade shows no longer have that. Boy, Vanilla Soft allows you to very systematically and very logically and more importantly opportunistically take advantage of your leads that you’re trying to turn into ideal customer profiles. So hey, reach out to vanilla soft, check it out. They have great solutions.
One final piece – we have a call. You got a question? Go out to saleslogicpodcast.com. We may grab it there or hit social media and just do #saleslogic.
But now right now we’ve got to jump into the lightning round. The lightning round today is all about how do you nurture my great customers? Go!
Meridith Elliott Powell: Okay. Ideas to, to nurture your great customers is number one, set yourself up on a schedule to check in with them regularly, at least four times a year. You should be doing a check in call with them. And one of those calls should be a deep dive just to make sure you’re one step ahead with the products or services that you sell.
Mark Hunter: Yeah. And that brought up a good point because you’re not just taking care of them, but you’re always trying to say, what else, what else is out there? I always say, Hey, what am I teaching them on a regular basis? What am I teaching them? I always want to be teaching my great customers go.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. I think to nurture your, your best customers, you need to send a little business their way. It doesn’t, it shouldn’t always be about you getting business. You should be helping their business to grow.
Mark Hunter: I’m going to add that you need to create additional relationships in that customer. Don’t allow yourself to be held hostage by just one or two people. You may have a great relationship with them, but get to know others.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. That’s really good work to solve problems that they have that go beyond, your business position yourself as a resource for everything so that you are the first person they call, about anything, whether it’s related to your product or service or not.
Mark Hunter: Take a look at the customers that they sell to and be looking downstream, at least two steps. What can you learn? What can you learn about their customers or their customers’ customers to go all the way down stream. What can you learn? What about their supply chain? What’s the value? What’s the added insight information you can bring them totally uncalled for. You’re just bringing it to them. But it’s a way they become. I’m really impressed with what you delivered to me.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Okay. I think you should celebrate their anniversary, not the anniversary that they went into business, but the anniversary that they went into business with you. People have a basic need to be heard and remembered and acknowledged. When you celebrate the very first day that they ever did business with you and you let them know that you remember it, it is a really unique and innovative way to show that this relationship means a lot to you. And if it means a lot to you, it’ll mean a lot to them.
Mark Hunter: I’ll share with you one final one, send them some books sent in a book every now and then send them a book. That means a lot to you. Send it to them. Just unannounced. What you’re doing is helping them learn. Meridith I think has a few good books. I’ve got a few good books, but hey, you know, we need to kind of start wrapping this up.
Thank you for listening to Sales Logic this week. If you like what you hear, subscribe, rate, and review the show on your favorite podcast app. If something we’ve said has earned you even a single dollar, consider telling a friend about our show. It’s how we grow to help you grow. I’m Mark Hunter
Meridith Elliott Powell: and I’m Meridith Elliott Powell.
Mark Hunter: Remember when you sell with confidence and integrity,
Meridith Elliott Powell: you turn uncertainty to your competitive advantage
Mark Hunter: and the sale becomes logical.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Thanks so much. Great show Mark!
Copyright 2020, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.