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By: Alice Heiman
Categories: lead generation, Sales leadership

Not all business is good business. Just because a company is in your target market doesn’t mean you want to do business with them. Even if your target market is well-defined, not all the companies will be a good fit or have a need right now. It’s the salesperson’s job to qualify the prospect, and part of qualifying is determining how “ideal” they are. Are your salespeople trained to do this? 

Qualifying 

Typically, qualifying determines whether there is a need and a budget. If there is, the next step to qualifying is determining if there is a good fit between the prospect’s need and your solution. If the answer is yes, a good salesperson will identify all of the buying influences involved and learn the buying process and collaborate with the team to gather all the needed information to move the opportunity forward. You close the deal and have an ‘ideal’ customer. That’s all there is to it, right? 

If that is the case, then how do we end up with customers we complain about and probably shouldn’t be doing business with? 

There is something missing in our qualifying process. We are determining that they can buy and want to buy, but not whether we want to sell to them.  

Eyes Wide Open

What? You’re thinking, she is crazy! Of course, you want to sell to them. They are buying what you offer and you want your salespeople to sell it to them and hit quota. 

Since it’s more profitable (and more fun) to have ‘ideal’ customers, it’s best to determine how ‘ideal’ your prospect really is before you move forward. Once you know, you can choose to move forward with a ‘less than ideal’ prospect but you will do it with your eyes wide open.  

Below are 4 Steps That Will Help You Find Your Ideal Customers.

1. Define Your Ideal Customer 

What is an ‘ideal’ customer anyway? Ideal customers are the ones you love doing business with and they love you.  

  • They pay their bills on time.  
  • They respond in a timely manner.  
  • They write testimonials for you. 
  • They appreciate your customer service.  
  • They treat you well. 
  • They give you the opportunity to resolve problems.  
  • They let you know what you can do to make their experience even better. 

You may have some other specifics and you should build a list of criteria that works for your company. Choose 5 or 6 things that are the most important. You’ll see more examples in a minute.  

Why is it important to define?  

So, you can easily identify them.  There is a subset of your current customer base that is ideal. It may be small, but it’s there. 

Here’s a quick exercise you can do.  

Rate Your Top 2o 

  1. Develop the criteria.  
  2. Using a rating scale from 1 to 5. 5 is the best fit possible to the criteria and 1 being not a fit at all.  
  3. Apply the criteria to your 20 clients one at a time. 
  4. Determine which are ideal.  

Example:

ABC Company 

  1. Pays on time Rating = 5 
  2. Responsive Rating = 4 
  3. Appreciates good customer service Rating = 5 
  4. Works together to resolve problems Rating = 5  
  5. Treats people well Rating = 5 

With the 5 criteria above, total and then divide to find the score. The score is 24, divided by 5 is 4.8. They are a good match to the criteria and an example of an ‘ideal’ customer.  

When you do this for the top 20 you will start to see a pattern in the types of customers you have which will later help you know what you are looking for in future clients.  

2. Fit Ideal Customer with Target Market 

How do you find more ideal companies to prospect? It’s easy to build a list based on the demographics of your target market; their geography, industry, employee count, SaaS products they use and revenues (if they are public). It’s not as easy to find out if they are ‘ideal’ according to your criteria.  

The messaging on their website and social media might give you some clues, but only working with them will give you a solid answer. There are clues during the buying process and now that you know what you are looking for, it will be easier to find.  

Build an Ideal Customer Profile 

There are two parts to the ideal customer profile, the demographics of your target market (tangible and measurable) like I listed above and the psychographics (beliefs, culture, values) which are the criteria similar to my list that makes them ideal.  

Here’s my Ideal Customer Profile as an example.  

You can buy a list or build one yourself. You’ll find hundreds of companies that fit the demographics and they may end up being your target market, but not all of them will be ideal to do business with. You can generate leads from this list. Then the qualifying work begins. 

3. Use the Filter 

Your ideal customer profile becomes your filter. It allows you to qualify prospects, not just on demographic criteria or on their need and ability to pay, but on the basis of whether you will enjoy a high-quality relationship. Whether they will be loyal customers that provide repeat business and referrals or whether they will be a company you and everyone else complains about. 

Side Note: There should be a Zero Tolerance Policy for complaining about customers. One of the reasons there is so much complaining is because we do business with anyone in our target market rather than trying to find our ideal customers.   

That’s where the salesperson kicks into gear. They research and look for signs. They may look at a site like Glassdoor to see what employees say about the company. They will watch what is posted on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. They will ask around. They will learn some of it from the meetings they are having with interested buyers.  

That’s where great salespeople shine. They take the information from their research and make a great plan. Then they build trust and have great conversations asking all the right questions. They listen, learn, educate and collaborate. Through that process, they determine if they are a good fit, not just solving the need but the kind of fit that brings in a customer for life, an ideal customer.  

It’s unrealistic to believe we can only do business with companies that fit our ideal profile perfectly, but wouldn’t it be amazing. What if we tried a little harder and more of our customers were ideal. Imagine what that would be like. 

4. Dream Big

It’s silly for me to suggest that all your customers should be ‘Ideal’, but wouldn’t it be nice. Dreams can come true, at least to some degree. A percentage of your customers will be ‘ideal’ and a dream to work with. It’s up to you. I can tell you that if you know what you are looking for, it’s a lot easier to find and attract. Determine what that means for your company and what you are willing to do. 


I’d love to hear what actions you decide to take from reading this article. Please leave them below in the comment section and if you have questions or need our help defining your ideal customer profile, please schedule a time to talk with us.

Alice Heiman
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Alice Heiman

Founder and CSO at Alice Heiman, LLC
Alice Heiman has been helping companies increase sales for more than 20 years. Her innovative sales leadership programs, coupled with her top-down approach to creating long-term change, set up sales leaders and sales-managing business owners to get consistent and sustainable growth.
Alice Heiman
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