Step 2: SMB Success Series


Understanding your customer’s motivation is an important first step in the sales challenge, as we found out in my last post. But, to base your sales strategy on motivation alone is very one-dimensional. It implies every customer is the same - and we all know that simply isn’t true.


Categorisation or segmentation is critical to your sales strategy. By dividing your territory into different “types” of customer, you are so much more likely to succeed in conquering it.


I use a simple spectrum on which I plot my prospects and those of  my team in order to better understand how quickly they are likely buy, how much they could buy and what my team and I need to do in order to get them over the line. I believe that plotting my prospects on this spectrum is an effective way we use to be as efficient as possible in the way we close down deals. It also helps us design account plans that are well tailored to each opportunity and ultimately helps us understand what our revenue stream is going to be.


As we discovered in my last post - these are the "3 Ps of Sales: Performance, Persuasion and Prediction."


So what does this spectrum look like? Well, everyone’s will be different but broadly speaking it will cover the same ground. Most importantly, you can use the spectrum to spread your time and effort correctly across your prospect base, and also plot where you think your revenue is going to come from. This also gives you is a revenue-for-effort ratio. This is one of the most important tools in making you efficient:


  1. The Entrant - Either a new business or a business owner or decision maker that is out of their comfort zone. It is likely that this type of customer is very short of time to focus on a decision about your product or service, and lacks the knowledge and confidence to make a quick decision. Consequently, you will find this end of the spectrum needs a lot of education and could be quite labour-intensive by comparison to the rest of your marketplace.
  2. The Emerging - This segment on your spectrum will deliver the highest revenue-to-effort ratio and most likely most of your satisfaction and fulfillment as a business person! This section of the market is on the move, and is moving fast! Prospect categorisation is important because you need to understand which customers fall into this category so that when they are ready to buy, you are ready to sell. Prioritising these prospects is critical as you want to make yourself available for them. They will require a good deal of education, but are equally likely to be confident in making a decision. They are also most likely very innovative and committed in the way they adopt your product or service. These prospects live their business and will want you to show the same passion
  3. The Established - From this end of the spectrum, there is still a good degree of revenue to be had but the  approach must be very, very different. These customers either do know more than you do about your product or service, or they just think they do! Or, they have purchased similar products or services in a certain way and just want to follow the same formula. They won’t require much education but in some case require you to challenge them. They will negotiate hard and so are unlikely to adopt the whole solution you offer them. They will also in most cases play you off against your competition. The effort could be less than the other two categories, and the eventual sale likely to be quick, but the challenge will be securing the full revenue opportunity from them. But to some degree this category is very similar to the above: when they do need you, you need to be there or the opportunity will quickly slip.

Like any spectrum, your prospects will spread from one end to the other. Some industries will see a concentration in one spot. Some prospects will even be a blend of different characteristics. But the important thing is to understand what the characteristics are and sell to them accordingly. You will find this process very helpful not only in understanding your target market, but helping to manage your team too. As well as informing your decisions on where to invest your time, the spectrum also shows you where to go hunting for revenue when times are tough.


In future posts, I’ll outline a plan of attack for each segment, but in the meantime why not begin dividing up your prospects according to this spectrum - and then we can conquer them together!


If you'd like to find out more about how to "Qualify Prospects to Rock Your Sales Goals" just download this free eBook: