Selling To The Right Customer

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Most people believe they are off to a great start growing their business once they obtain a nice big list of names, phone numbers and addresses.   “This demographic area and this marketing channel will get me in front of well over 100,000 prospects.”

The reality is that most of us have very little understanding of what a “prospect” is.  In essence, a prospect is an individual or business with a need for and the ability to acquire your product or service.

Several years ago a friend of mine started a job as a salesman for a large corporation.  He worked incredibly hard making cold calls, purchasing lead lists and marketing to whomever he could think of.  It produced very few positive results.  One day he was forunate enough to spend some time with a senior salesman within the company.  At the end of a long day watching my friend spin his wheels talking to people with virtually no interest in what he had to offer, the senior salesman told him he was going about the idea of prospecting all wrong.  He told my friend, “Instead of spending all your time selling to people who are not likely to buy from you (e.g., cold calling, advertisements, networking events) why not focus on those people who need your services and are looking to buy?”

The very best business people rarely sell.  They spend their time understanding who the customer is and focus their attention accordingly.   You generate far more business and revenue from a small group of qualified customers than you can ever hope to generate from a larger group of people with whom you know nothing about.

Below are four important customer groups that exist along a continuum.  The further down the line a referral is on the continuum, the higher the success rate in terms of making a sale.  Therefore, a key challenge for all of you is to find a prospecting system that will generate a larger number of referrals from the prospect and qualified prospect categories.  (Note: See my blog on permission marketing to learn about an excellent way to target qualified prospects.)




  1. Brian Sullivan, PsyD  February 24, 2009

    Great post, Dave. The graphic is especially helpful and telling.



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