I was talking with an owner of an insurance agency the other day, and he was telling me one of his biggest challenges is getting his commercial insurance reps to clearly define their target audience. They’re struggling because they don’t really know who to start calling on.
It seems so simple: Who do you want to be your customers?
But when your service can span over multiple industries, it can be a real challenge. It’s still kind of a challenge for me and my marketing services! I could sell to a million different kinds of companies. Can’t I just sell to anyone who comes my way?
Sure I can. But the problem is that sales don’t normally "come your way". You have to actively go out and find people who could benefit from using your product or service and then convince them they would be better off working with you.
If you don’t clearly define your target audience and who you want to work with, sales is an uphill battle. Here’s why:
Unfocused Sales Messaging
When selling or marketing anything, the hardest part is figuring out what to say to get someone interested in your company. It’s virtually impossible to do that if you can’t clearly visualize the person you’re trying to talk to.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you decide to target all of the companies in your home town that have between 10-25 employees. You’re starting to narrow down your target audience, but that’s still very vague. Companies with between 10-25 employees could mean a restaurant, a manufacturing company, a bank, or a thousand other types of companies.
The owner of a bank has very different concerns from an owner of a restaurant. The most effective sales messaging will be written to reflect each individual situation.
You’re Not Seen as an "Expert"
If you’re all over the board with the types of company’s you work with, you may not be seen as an "expert". Companies like to work with people that have experience with other companies just like theirs.
I come up all the time against website developers that "work specifically with XYZ types of companies." Even if that company isn’t the greatest, it gives prospects a warm and fuzzy feeling to think that they’re working with a "specialist" in their industry.
(As a side note, I have to throw this out there because I thought it was so interesting: I just read an article that said "generalists" have real value because they have a broader view of things. They can see connections that a specialist might miss. I believe that’s true. I think the best solution is for a generalist and a specialist to work together!)
Don’t Know Who to Prospect
If you aren’t clear about who your target audience is, you probably struggle figuring out who to start prospecting and how to use social media for networking. Also (this is an inbound marketing thing), if you do create content to publish online, you’re keywords will likely be all over the map and you’ll have a harder time getting the right prospects to your website.
The very first step before you invest any resources in sales and marketing is to clearly define your target audience. If you don’t, you may flounder and not get the best return on your investment.