Is your sales team focused on the right target market?

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Man FrowningThere have been some really good articles written and some great LinkedIn discussions around the whole area of sales enablement and what’s working and what isn’t. So, it got me to thinking about a problem with a lot of organizations, and it centers on whether or not they have a clearly defined target market for their sales team to go after.

If you were to take an average organization and ask the CEO, VP of Sales, VP of Product Development and VP of Marketing to tell you who their target market was by industry, role and problem, I’ll bet you will get four different answers! One reason for this is that those four entities have probably never sat down to define who their target market is to that degree. Often times it’s taken for granted that everybody knows who their target market is; but in truth, it may not be, especially to the people who are responsible for selling into it.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of major corporations out there that spend lots and lots of money researching the answer to that question. They would be able to tell you immediately who their target market is and why, but there are a lot of organizations that simply don’t know or are unable to clearly articulate it to the degree they should about who their target market is and why.

So, if an organization hasn’t clearly identified and defined who their best prospects are, for the products or services they sell, and the reason why they are the best, then that puts the sales rep at a clear disadvantage.

It is my belief that one of the reasons why a lot of sales organizations are struggling to hit their quota numbers is, that their sales people are wasting too much time calling on the wrong industry and/or the wrong role(s), without a clear understanding of the problems they are trying to solve and the value they can provide. If their marketing departments haven’t identified their market with laser precision and with the right message to get prospects interested, then that too adds to the problem.

To add to that, an IDC report indicated that there is a hefty 40% increase in the number of stakeholders per deal. Each of those stakeholders has their own issues and points of view, which complicates this even more. This may require a different set of messages for each stakeholder and even a different sales approach.

So how do organizations rectify this problem? Well, first of all there needs to be an analysis of your current customer base to determine exactly who these customers are, what problem(s) they had, who were the key decision makers and influencers and why they bought from you, what problem did you actually solve and what was your value proposition. I know this sounds like this should be common practice for every organization and I believe it should, but you would be surprised at the number of organizations that do not capture and log this type of information.  Next, there needs to be a structured format in which this information is captured, cataloged and stored so it can be searched easily. Then, and only then, will the tribal knowledge about who your target audience is, be able to be capitalized on, by your salespeople, so they can go out and replicate it.

This type of research of your own client base may make for some sobering revelations. It may expose some areas of strength or weakness that you may not have realized before. This also may very well impact the direction that your CEO and VP of Product Development will take going forward.

The above analysis needs to be an ongoing process so that you will be able to see changes and trends in your market as they appear. So, both sales management and marketing should monitor and review these new sales to make sure that they both are still addressing the needs of their clients, their issues or problems haven’t changed and if they have, then they adjusted for those changes to make sure that they are still on target.

Obviously, one way for sales management to track whether or not their people are focusing on the right target market is through monitoring of their call reports and CRM log entries to make sure that they are spending their time calling on the right market. Also, sales needs to monitor the leads that marketing creates to make sure that they also fit the right profile. But most importantly, sales and marketing management need to make sure that they have clearly defined who their target market is by industry, by role, by issue and by value proposition so that their sales people will have the right prospect profile to go after and be equipped to answer why or what to all of those. Then it will be so much easier for the sales person to understand who their target market is and why so they don’t waste their time calling outside of that “sweet spot”.

That’s the way I see it, what say you?

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