As a sales leader, I require my teams to pursue strategic clients. I discourage them from spending their time on companies that won’t benefit from our approach. I learned to target the companies that would be a good fit for how we deliver value. Occasionally, a salesperson would chafe when I rejected companies that would not find what we do to offer a strategic advantage.
Building my family’s business, this approach resulted in winning, growing, and retaining clients for decades. The power of this approach results is evident in our successful sales and long relationships.
The importance of carefully selecting strategic targets means building a list of dream clients. You want to spend time on the ones you are certain are something far more than qualified leads. Your sales prospecting efforts should start with these prospective clients. Don’t waste time on companies that are a waste of your limited time for prospecting.
In the Red Ocean, you need to be able to displace your competition by taking their clients. You also must sell in such a way that you can vanquish your competitors in a competitive market. You will never win the large, strategic target accounts if you don’t pursue them.
For help with competitive B2B selling, see Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition.
Why Is It Important to Focus on Strategic Targets?
Right now, sales leaders, sales managers, and sales technologies all believe that sales is a numbers game. This lack of understanding causes them to believe that they need to be efficient above all else. Believing that more is better, they run automated prospecting sequences that create massive waste.
You cannot win deals by being efficient in sales, no matter the technology. You win deals by being effective in the B2B sales process, which you should think of as the B2B sales experience that wins clients. By limiting your sales targets to the best in your territories, your focus will shift away from needing more prospects to doing good and effective work.
To be efficient and effective with your time, begin your sales strategy by making a list of your dream clients. These clients won’t need to qualify. This is the best use of your time as a salesperson.
You identify and reach the right customers by assessing the types of companies that buy what you sell. You can also look for evidence of strategic outcomes they need and how well your organization can fit. This is about more than selling products and services.
Any company practicing an account-based marketing and selling approach is certain to have sales professionals identifying and pursuing strategic outcomes.
How to Target Strategic Customers Effectively
To win strategic targets, you need to research them and their industry. Without doing your homework, you will not be able to customize the marketing messages or your sales approach.
You also need to research the company’s business strategy and goals, learning what kind of help they need. This includes recognizing their likely pain points by relying on your experience solving other clients’ business challenges. You need to do this work before you start the sales prospecting process with potential customers. You can use LinkedIn and social media to learn a great deal about your strategic targets and their contacts.
The best approach for B2B salespeople is to share insights that prove you understand your contact’s problems and their root causes, including those that prevent buyers and decision-makers from achieving the results they need. You also need to nurture these contacts, establishing yourself as someone who knows how to help. Your messages should resonate with your contacts.
Sales teams responsible for enterprise-level sales will need to coordinate communication with strategic targets. This requires consistent sales prospecting and using the humble cold call, which generates the largest percentage of most of the net new revenue.
Overcoming Common Challenges in Targeting Strategic Customers
The largest challenge for sales reps is that their potential buyers have little interest in your product or solution. After all, they already have a partner, so it takes time before these target companies show up in your B2B sales funnel. You might want to treat these displacement pursuits as your long-game pipeline, and think of the less valuable companies you pursue as your short-game pipeline.
The best way to address the deal timeline and the already long sales cycle is to start the pursuit of strategic clients sooner. The longer it takes for you to start doing the work, the longer it will take to win these clients. You may, however, need to optimize your approach by improving your sales communication, while also working on sales credibility and sales trust. It is worth the effort to improve over time.
Strategic Target Pursuits: Less Is More
Focusing on strategic targets provides long-term relationships and successful sales, the kind that will build your business and allow you to take clients away from your competition. In the modern world, buyers are overwhelmed with communication and underwhelmed with the legacy approach that is infected with the idea that more is better than better.
Sales leaders should insist their salespeople use a modern sales approach and account-based marketing rather than wasting their time pursuing targets that are not the right strategic fit. To do this your sales team needs insight, credibility, and trust. By starting now, you shorten the time it takes you to dial in and master this approach.
You never want to compete for orders; instead, you want to compete for clients and earn the right to take care of all your client’s needs for the long term.