Business Development Strategy

Can you define your ideal customer?

By March 9, 2009December 29th, 2015No Comments
The first phase in The Whale Hunters Process is Know the Whale. It seems so obvious that a company would know the characteristics of customers that it is trying to recruit, but a surprising number of companies have not devoted much attention to that definition.  I think it’s a core business development competency!

So, if you are going to hunt more big deals, bigger sales to bigger customers, you should start by clarifying the kinds of customers who would be ideal for you.  This activity should precede all other sales training and development activities!

We provide a tool called the Target Filter.  It’s just a chart with three columns, which I recommend you complete in a left-to-right sequence.  First column is categories–decide what kinds of criteria are important to you.  You should include some objectively verifiable data–e.g. geographic location, number of employees, revenues, etc.  You can also include subjective criteria that are important to you–e.g. corporate culture, brand reputation, leadership qualities.  Complete your target filter as a collaborative activity with your team, and the ensuing conversation will be as important as the completed work!

Once you’ve chosen 10-12 categories, determine the metrics of the “ideal” customer and list those metrics in column A.  Then, consider the metrics of “what’s the least we could accept” if other criteria were excellent, and insert them in column C.  Column “B”–not included in our example tool–is a midpoint between A and C.

You’re not likely to find prospects that will rate all A’s in your Target Filter.  What you’ll look for is a preponderance of A’s with only a couple of C’s.

Tomorrow I’ll explore how to identify companies that fit your target filter.

Meantime, do you have a target filter?  What are the key characteristics that you look for in an ideal customer?