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To successfully sell your products and services, you first must figure out who wants them. Sorry to say, but not everyone is going to need or want what you’re selling. So rather than waste time trying to sell to everyone regardless of their needs, it is much more efficient, not to mention smart, to figure out exactly who needs your product and then sell it to them.
It’s like the old Willie Sutton quote. When Willie was asked why he robbed banks, he answered, “Because that’s where the money is.” Simple, right? We need to do a little more than that to find our ideal customer.
The first thing we should do is to develop and implement what I call an ideal customer template or filter. This requires an honest evaluation of what you do. You should understand first exactly what it is you’re selling.
Then you must analyze who you’re selling to right now. Create a list of your best customers. And then further evaluate that list to determine your best customers and most importantly why they are your best customers. This list will usually contain your largest customers as well as the customers who have been doing business with you for the longest. Once you determine that, the next question to ask is: What are the characteristics that make these customers your best customers?
To help you this this endeavor, here is a tool that I use to find and evaluate a company’s ideal customer.
The Ideal Customer Profile
Purpose: The purpose of this customer profile is to specifically define the type of customers that you want to target. These qualifications are simply examples of the type of characteristics you should be looking at in your ideal customers. This list will be used as a filter to eliminate chasing after the wrong type of customers and thus saving you a great deal of time and energy.
This filtering will help you focus more on the right customers, while providing info for your sales team about the type of customers to target. The list will also lead to less quoting and more time available for you to service the ideal customers. This list was developed with a high-tech company in mind, of course.
The ideal customer:
- Places a value on what we do best: our quality products, reliability, and quick-turn capabilities
- Wants to be a true partner
- Respects what we do
- Sees us as part of their future
- Is in a good market
- Is financially stable
- Pays their bills on time
- Is willing to pay for what they get
- Is serious about buying a great board to go into their great products
Start by checking the prospective customer’s technological capabilities on the company website. You want to match their technology needs with your services. This ideal customer needs:
- Up to 18 layers (sweet spot of 6-12 layers)
- 4 mil lines and spacing
- FR-4 family/RF/hybrid/polyimide
- IPC 6012 class 2 and 3
- Heavy copper
- B&B vias
- Military, medical, commercial, space and avionics
- OEMs preferred, but also work with CMs
This company needs:
- ITAR certification
- Product development, including working with engineers and designers
- Some R&D
- Low- to mid-volume production
- High reliability
Obviously, this ideal customer template can be varied to match your specific product offerings. By developing and using this template, you will also be creating your actual sales strategy based on successfully pursuing and capturing this kind of customer.
From this template, you will develop a list of the right customers to go after. You will develop the right strategies and tactics to turn these ideal companies into ideal customers.
The biggest benefit in developing an ideal customer template is that you won’t waste time going after the wrong customers. Instead, you’ll spend all your time, money and energy going after the right ones. In short, you’ll learn, as Willie Sutton might say, to go where the money is.
It’s only common sense.