By Ian Altman, an internationally respected and sought-after expert on business.
Often businesses employ a sales and marketing strategy in which they try to cast a wide net, in an effort to not miss anyone. But by casting a wide net, it is easy to forget that the real goal of sales and marketing is to attract the best potential customers, not just anyone with a pulse. In business-to-business sales and marketing, focusing on the number of leads or prospects is misleading—and likely attracts prospects that are a waste of your time.
Start attracting the best potential clients and valid sales opportunities to grow your business. Here’s how.
Don’t Be Generic
The most common concern I hear when I suggest narrowing the focus of a marketing message is: “If we do that, we might miss someone.” That’s why most marketing messages end up sounding like this: “We are the premier group for doing stuff.” Some companies get more sophisticated and say, “We are the premier, GLOBAL group for doing stuff.”
The people who fear they might miss someone are right. Let me explain why that is a good thing. When you have a generic message, such as the above examples, you gain interest at a superficial level. This means that most of the leads you generate do not have an issue that rises to a level of importance and/or urgency that justifies the (potential) customer making a change or investment.
Define the Problem You Solve
To find and attract your ideal client you must know what questions your clients are asking, what pains they face, and which challenges they are desperately trying to solve. One of my podcast guests, John Jantsch, gives great examples of what he calls “trigger phrases.”
When you go to the doctor with a problem, you’d be concerned if they jumped to treatment with you talking with your or taking a few tests. As a patient, you want the clinician to diagnose and treat the condition. The same is true for prospects and clients. Make it your goal to carefully describe the problem you solve for your ideal potential client. Clients can best identify with the problems you solve instead of the service or product that you offer.
Practice Following This Flow
If you want to make a big impact and deliver value, follow this simple flow:
- Describe an issue that your ideal client would be facing.
- Explain the impact of that issue on their organization.
- Share why customers tell you it is so important to solve.
- Share the outcome of those for whom you have solved that issue (without talking about your solution).
- Be honest about alternatives—especially those they can implement for free.
Notice that this formula leaves out what you did, or how you solved the problem. The goal is to attract the right potential customers who can see themselves in the description of the issues you excel at solving, and might have a heightened desire to solve that issue after understanding and identifying with the impact and importance pieces. If you focus on topics that your audience considers integral to their own success, they’ll beat a path to your door, and by the time they speak with you, they’ll already know you, like you, and—most importantly—trust you.
Know What to Ask
So, you’ve crafted a wonderful message. You left out the part about the solution. What do you do when they call and ask about your solution? Avoid the urge to tell them all about it. At this point, you don’t know enough to determine if you can help them, or if their issue is worth solving. Think back to the physician. You might start by asking, “What was it about that article that caught your attention?” Then you work together to see if they have a condition for which you offer a great treatment.
About the author: Ian Altman helps his clients discover how to modernize sales and marketing for today’s customer. He contributes weekly leadership articles on Inc.com and Forbes.com.