(Hint: It Starts With Your Best Customers)
Before we can elaborate on this very important question, let's first define the word "prospect." A prospect is a suspect that has engaged with you in some way, whether it be an action taken on a web visit, a phone inquiry, etc. Your goal in this stage is to qualify this prospect to the point that you know the decision-maker and you have identified an interest level in your products and/or services. But it's more than that really.
In this stage, you must quickly determine who to focus your precious marketing resources and sales time on. One of the ways to make your prospecting efforts the most efficient and effective is to create a process for identifying your BEST prospects within the larger pool of wannabes...and it all starts by profiling your BEST customers:
- Segment your current customer base. Start by analyzing your current customer base. Pull out the customers you have found to be your best. Use criteria that points to higher revenue, profitability, shorter sales cycle, etc. From this list, determine what like characteristics these customers have or had in the sales process. This would include factors such as need, buyer's title or role in buying cycle, industry, size, geography. Don't limit yourself here, brainstorm ALL like characteristics of this group of customers.
- Define a "profile" from the data you've collected. Once you've compiled the list of "ideal" customers, use this information to build a profile of the "ideal" prospect. You will need to prioritize the factors you've identified in step 1 by which factors most directly relate to why they are one of your best customers.
- Use this profile to create a lead qualification checklist. From the profile, determine the top 10 criteria for what to look for in future prospects. With this criteria, create a Lead Qualification Checklist by which you will rate all prospects that cross your path.
It's important to remember that the definition of a sales process is CONVERTING suspects to prospects, prospects to leads, and leads to customers, while DISQUALIFYING along the way. This can only be done effectively if you spend some time up-front defining a quick and methodical way to identify which prospects will be worth the investment of your time.----------
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