Most people view marketing and selling like this.
You target a market segment, tell them what you have to offer, maybe work in a little solution selling and hope they choose you.
You target a market segment, respond to RFPs and hope they choose your price.
Either way, what you’re building is a recipe for low prices and even lower profits.
See, the secret to high profits is to take price out of the equation to a large extent by offering some unique and desirable element that can’t be compared.
The problem with solution selling and responding to RFPs is that both of these approaches basically make every business look the same so price is the primary issue.
The secret to creating consistently high profits is to understand how to choose your clients and not the other way around.
Yes, you need to select exactly whom you intend to work with and let your unique way of doing business illustrate your premium pricing value proposition.
Now, when I say choose your clients I’m don’t mean making a list of clients you want to work with or that you think would be nice names in your portfolio.
What I’m referring to is the intentional act of identifying the characteristics of an ideal client and going after only prospects that fit that profile. Taking this approach allows you to significantly increase the likelihood that you will only work with clients that appreciate your unique approach and expect paying you what that’s worth.
I have developed a three-step approach for helping you get clearer on this idea. You may want to download our free ideal client template here.
1) The #1 Unmet Need
The first step is to figure out who has a problem you can solve and what their goals are for solving this problem. I know we all think everyone needs what we do, but the key to finding ideal clients is to also find prospects that are in flux, have the desire to make a change and are open to a disruptive approach.
You must find that demographic, help them define their goals and speak to their greatest unmet need.
2) The Crucial Behavior
Once you identify the larger pool of prospects that have the need, it’s time to turn your attention to a narrower subset that has demonstrated a behavior that can give real clues to their willingness to respond to your unique approach.
This element is harder to define because you won’t discover it on a direct mail list of selected fields. But, when you understand it, you’ll have the tool to unlocking this approach in ways that will make you incredibly smart and confident about zeroing in on ideal clients.
Let me give you an example that might apply to any service type business.
I found long ago that there are three behaviors that stand out as crucial markers for an ideal client. It almost doesn’t matter what industry, if one of these three characteristics is apparent I can charge ahead with confidence that I want that client.
We’ve identified these behaviors with names to give us common language to refer to.
Movers – Movers are people who care about their industry almost as much as they do about their business. They have a need to serve and realize that by improving the overall health or impression of their industry, they win as well.
These people serve on industry and association trade group boards and committees and always look for ways to improve their business.
Educators – Educators teach as an approach to selling and business development. They hold classes, create content that educates and are often found leading discussions and presentations both related and unrelated to their core business.
No surprise, this behavior responds very well to an inbound, content based, educational approach in kind.
Skeptics – This last group might seem odd, but the one thing I’ve discovered about skeptics is that sometimes they are as open to anyone for a truly new approach. What they’ve grown skeptical of is that everyone is saying the same thing and no one is delivering results.
Sometimes the only way to uncover skeptics is through networking, but this group may indeed to very open to a disruptive approach.
3) The Ideal Client Sketch
The last piece of the puzzle is to write out a thorough sketch of this ideal client that includes the demographics, the #1 unmet need, goals and central behavior that allows you to pinpoint your hottest prospect.
From this three-step approach you should be able to create a hot list of real prospects that your marketing and selling efforts can take specific aim on knowing that your efforts, when successful, will lead to a profitable client.