Tips on Finding the Ideal Client Profile for Your Business
It’s important to understand that not every prospect is the right client for you. It sounds a little backwards, but it's so true. A fellow colleague/mentor of mine gave me a piece of advice about how to find the right clients for your business and it changed my entire perspective.
He said, “Help clients disqualify you. Give them reasons not to work with you and chances are you’ll save yourself time and you’ll weed out the ones that are a better fit faster.”
At first, this didn't make sense. Give prospective clients reasons not to work with my company? Isn’t that the opposite of what we want? But after a bit more thought, I realized he was right.
At the end of the day, we really want what’s best for our clients. While we can adjust our services to meet their needs, we can only do that to a certain extent and then we exit the “we’re a good fit and everybody's still happy” zone. If we’re not a good fit for them, chances are they aren’t a good fit for us and then we’ll end up wasting each other’s time and money for far too long, butting heads because we’re not the right fit for each other.
It's ok to not be the right fit for every prospect. It'd be weird if you were.
So how do you find the right clients for your business? In The Sales Development Playbook by Trish Bertuzzi, she lists out the ABCDs of finding your ideal client. The below passage is shared directly from her book:
A: A-LIST. These are your dream clients, the ones you absolutely want to do business with. They can make your quarter and change the direction of your company. They have a problem, you have the solution, you know it, and they’ll figure it out (sooner or later).
B: BREAD & BUTTER. This is your sweet spot. These types of accounts—hopefully there are thousands of them—should all be doing business with you. There are too many to list by name, but you can easily define a few key traits they share (e.g., five hundred to four thousand employees, five remote offices, running Google Apps for Business).
C: COMPELLING EVENTS. These are accounts that generally don’t have a pressing need for your solution, but then . . . BAM! An internal or external shock shakes up their priorities. This could be an acquisition, a bad quarter, or a change in leadership.
D: DEAD ENDS. These accounts may want to work with you. They may even need to buy from you, but for whatever reason they can’t or won’t. The biggest problems with Dead End accounts are that they look and sound just like Bread & Butters. The key is identifying red flags and preventing your reps from wasting time here.
Trish does a great job of identifying the types of clients you might be talking to and the ones you want to avoid. Another thing she mentioned is that the A-List clients should be about twice as big as your Bread & Butters, so while you want to keep your options open, know that those fish are going to require a bit more pull to reel them in, but once you’ve got them, it could be a game changer for your business.
At the end of the day, you need to revisit your strengths and weaknesses. You should know what comprises the backbone of your company and what doesn’t. What you do well, what you could expand upon and what areas you should avoid. Don't try to be everything to everyone. It's a surefire way to fall into a vast abyss of vagueness.
Determine your deal breakers when it comes to finding the right client so you can spot red flags when they arise. Keep in mind though, it's impossible to know what red flags you're trying to sort out if you don't know enough about your business, your products/services and key characteristics/traits of your ideal client. Take some time to identify those main criteria and you'll save both yourself and your prospective client loads of time in the future!
Founder & CEO
Kiley Peters is the Founder and CEO of Brainchild Studios, a boutique audience research, content strategy, and website creation agency primarily serving brands targeting Millennial Moms or business owners. She is also the Founder of the Work From Home Playbook, a series of online courses guiding aspiring entrepreneurial moms through the steps of starting a virtual business. She also launched the Brainchild Fund, a nonprofit initiative to support women and girls in business and entrepreneurship Follow her on Instagram.more posts by Kiley →