Who Should Your Sales Force Call On?

It’s not always obvious.  If your company sells oil drilling rigs to oil companies, then your salespeople know who to call on.  If your company sell luxury cars to wealthy people, you know where to find your prospects. But what if you sell products or services that could be sold to a much broader range of customers or clients?  Who should your salespeople call on then?

Today we conducted an exercise like this at Kurlan & Associates and listed our most recent 50 client companies.  Then we identified potential attributes of those clients that we felt were “good” ones, attributes that could more effectively narrow our focus.

We looked at possible criteria such as:

  • Size of the company
  • Title of our client
  • Money spent with our firm
  • Length of the relationship
  • Whether they evangelized internally
  • Whether they evangelized externally
  • Whether they introduced us to new clients
  • The quality of our relationship
  • How happy they were with our firm
When we applied these criteria to the 50 clients we selected, 30 of them met our initial criteria and 14 did not.  Of the 14 that did not, at least half of them failed to meet the criteria because we hadn’t worked with them long enough to be introduced to a new client.  Most of the clients were all over the map with regard to their size and how much they spent with us. Some evangelized internally and some externally.  Some did both.  Most were Presidents and CEO’s.
Then we looked at where these clients came from and we identified the following sources:
  • client introduction
  • cold call
  • heard one of us speak at an event
  • web site lead
  • Baseline Selling lead
While all of the sources above were well represented, the majority of the clients came from introductions from other happy clients.
Still not having anything conclusive, we had a group discussion and found a single common denominator.  All of the clients we considered “good” (45 of the 50) were fully committed to improving their sales organizations.
While that is a nice formula for predicting success with a client, the “committed to improving sales” criteria isn’t readily available demographic information.  However, it is a question that can be effectively used for qualifying opportunities.
Here’s my question for you:  If it benefits you to put your sales force through this exercise, will you be able to identify criteria that makes it easier to target “good” customers?