Redefining the Ideal Prospect

July 20, 2018


If the subject of this post piqued your interest, there is a good chance that you've struggled to understand who it is that your sales team should be targeting. Hopefully, you will find comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Many sales and marketing leaders go through the process of defining an ideal customer profile, only to realize that it is difficult to build (or buy) an accurate list of companies that are more than just place holders. I'm not suggesting that curated lists are a bad starting place, but I do submit that without proper segmentation, they are a terrible ending place.


So here I will attempt to give a prescription for what the initial list should become. Proper diagnosis should yield a sub-set of targets that have a current pain you can solve, the willingness to explore a solution and the resources to move forward.


After reading that you may be thinking “that sounds good but how do I identify those accounts?”



A case for trigger events


As suggested above, the most common criteria used for defining an ideal account target are basic demographics. Things like Industry, Revenue and/or Geography are all common and fairly easy ways to cull data. For a lot of us, the problem is that you can find hundreds if not thousands of prospects that fit the profile, but a ridiculously small number of those will become actual pipeline opportunities. This is exacerbated when we spend too much time on the wrong targets and ignore those that might be a better fit because they all look alike.


This is where understanding how to search for trigger events becomes a better indicator and should be used to identify higher priority targets. Trigger events are events that happen within an organization and can range from changes in key leadership, acquisitions, economic or legislative shifts - that create significant pain. Remember the old sales adage, “No Pain, No Change.”



If it’s so easy…


I get it, trying to codify trigger events and match them to prospects is not easy. There often aren’t lists that you can pull from data sources that have the names of companies that have lost their Chief Marketing Officer in the last 90 days. Trigger events are in many cases unpredictable.


What is required is a different way of sourcing and organizing data that begins within your CRM system and allows sales reps to smartly track prospects and score (for lack of a better term) prospects based on situations that could lead to their wanting to speak with you.



Some suggestions


Below are 3 ideas that will help move towards event driven prospecting that will help drive your conversion rate and make prospecting more productive.


1. Understand the drivers behind your most significant wins.


The more you dissect why you win deals, the more you will understand when and why people decide to buy from you. Most sales leaders instinctively understand the importance of win/loss surveys, but few feel that it is important to expend the resources to do it correctly. This is a miss and investing in understanding both why you win and why you lose can provide a level of intelligence that will repay itself many times over.


2. Set up your CRM to identify trigger events


Most CRM systems are set up to record demographic data, my suggestion is to add a layer of intelligence will help identify key events that could be meaningful. If you can do this successfully, you will have more than just a leg up on your competition, you will be miles ahead.


3. Rinse and repeat


Adopt a process driven system to both identify prospects and understand the buyers journey so that you can make it easy to consistently recognize and react to the moments that truly make a difference to your prospects. Timing is everything in sales and recognizing when someone is likely to have a need that you can solve is invaluable.





Growing revenue is a challenge and despite the proliferation of sales technology, it is essential to have a good understanding of what to look for. By understanding not just who, but what drives your sales,  you will be well on your way to exceeding your revenue targets. 


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