Friday, March 30, 2012

Targeting: Science or Passing Thought?

Skill Three Targeting

One of the issues that I faced as a young sales person revolved around this simple statement.  All customers are not created equal.  As a guy who grew up believing in fairness, equality and all the rest of the American Creed, this was hard.  I wanted to treat every single person who ever purchased one of my products with the same level of support and the same level of attention.   The little guys loved me and I developed a loyal following – but my sales didn’t grow. 

It was only after I came to realize not everyone had the ability, the volume and the potential to help me reach my own goals that I started to progress professionally.  My first efforts revolved around size of account, and this was a good start.  However, it’s more complex than just size.  When we match our products and services to the customer most likely gain high value from what we do, we begin the trek to sales success.  When we add in the dynamic of appreciation of our value – we move even farther forward.  I call this targeting.

Later on I discovered research indicating world class “targeters” are 47% more effective in reaching their financial goals than their peers.  Unfortunately, this thought is lost on many in distributor-land.  In sales meeting after sales meeting, strategy is discussed and “targets” proposed but no precise companywide process for targeting exists.  During down turns in economy those with well thought out targeting processes will prevail.

Let’s establish touch points for measuring targeting skills.  Again, I defer to my favorite 1-10 based scale.  Here are the measures I recommend:

1 – You have thought about how you sell and recognize some customers can buy more.

3 - There is little difference between a target and key account.  Typically you use the same three or four large accounts as your target for every product.

5 – You have applied some segmentation to your targeting process.  You have targets broken down based on account size and account type (OEM, User, and Contractor).

7 – You are looking at what customers might most easily be approached within your segmentation.

10 – Targeting is a science.  You have long term targets identified for strategic programs or processes and short term targets identified to kick-start the sale of new products.  Those around you understand your process and have a common vocabulary (ex. product level target, salesperson level target).

Remember the story of the hare and the tortoise?  Remember how the old rabbit gave the turtle dude a little head start?  Well, I don’t think a 47% head start can be ignored – it’s just too big a number. 

As I write this, I am concluding a two year research into the targeting methods used in some of the most successful organizations.  A book is just a short time away.  Drop me a line and I will share the introduction with you.

No comments: