Do you think only your largest prospects and customers are the most important? I don’t think that’s a very effective way to segment your prospects and customers. You can customize how you work with prospects and customers when you first realize they are different. Next you have to determine what makes them different. Then it’s up to you to do something with that information.
Prioritize your prospects by buying category.
I like to segment my prospects by buying category. The categories are how soon they’ll buy, how profitable their purchases are and yes of course, how much they’ll buy. What you might notice is that I place a premium on how soon they will buy. Those soon to be buyers will get more of my time.
I once learned from a very successful businessman a philosophy that made him millions of dollars. He said, “You can spend a lot of time negotiating a deal. It’s better to make the deal and start making money.” Your sales strategy should be to recognize likely buyers and do what you can to make it easier for your prospect to buy from you now. Customers with urgent needs, especially ones that are causing them problems, make a prospect a likely buyer.
Once I know the prospect is likely to buy soon, I make sure it’s a profitable sale. Yes, revenue is important, but if you’re not making much money on the revenue, you’re not making money for your company. You won’t make much money either especially if you’re on commission.
Segment your customers by future potential.
Yes, your biggest accounts should get your most valuable resource: your time. Just being a big account isn’t the only way to view your business. After all, the one certain thing in sales is that things will change. Here’s an example.
I worked with another very successful sales professional. His largest account was the company’s largest account in the entire Midwest and Southwest. Then one day he lost the account through nothing he did.
What happened? The customer was sold to an even larger corporation. Overnight, this very successful salesperson went from number 1 in the region to last in line. He had virtually no business to manage. He was lucky that the company found him another acceptable position.
Just considering your largest accounts means you are missing the accounts that could become larger. Growth potential is the type of priority to include in your account segmentation. I started working with a new account that bought a moderate amount from me the first year. They were probably at the top of the lowest group of my account’s in size. Here’s why they didn’t stay there the next year.
The manager of this customer had a vision for how his business would grow. Yes, there are some customers who will tell you that they will grow, but somehow they never do. This customer was different. We made our growth plans together and he kept exceeding his growth plans. You need to trust your customers when they say what they’ll do and then they do it.
I never treated this once small customer as a small customer. I saw the promises he made and kept and just knew he would one day be one of my largest accounts. He did in fact become my largest account after just 4 years.
Segment your prospects and customers by their future potential. Work hard with the ones who want to grow with you. I think Stephen Covey was right when he said, “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” It sure does in sales.