21st January, 2021
Whether you’re starting, shifting or growing a business, having a clear view of your target clients will help keep your efforts focused, writes Ben Paul.
It’s one of the most important things for any business owner to have a good grasp on. Actually, I’d argue it’s up there with understanding your current cash flow position.
You really do need to understand who your target clients are. Without it, all your sales and marketing efforts, and expenditure, will be wasted.
I briefly touched on this in a previous last article, A simple approach sales and marketing for sole traders and new businesses. That’s because in the so called ‘new normal’, it’s even more important.
If you’re pivoting or seeking new B2B sectors to sell to, then you really need to have a good understanding of what that sector looks like.
Therefore, as understanding your target clients is vital to every business owner and sole-trader I’ve covered off how you can develop a system for effective targeting.
Firstly, make note of how your offering provides a solution to a business challenge.
How does it help your potential customers do one or two of the following: grow their business; save them time; de-risk their business and its processes.
You’ll probably already know this, but it’s a crucial step and I’d advise you to write it down prominently somewhere.
Now it’s time to really start analysing your target audience and understand what they look like. Below, I’ll take you through the core areas in which you can start to define and understand your target audience.
This is the first key demographic to understand. Are you targeting companies with employee numbers of 1-10, 11-50, 51-100 and so on. This will really affect what you offer. Companies within a certain size tend to have similar buying patterns for core products and services. They also tend to renew their purchases on a similar cycle.
Companies of different sizes will likely also have very different buying approaches. If you’re looking at large companies, say over 5,000 employees, they may well have dedicated procurement teams. They may also expect a larger percentage discount due to the volume in which they make purchases.
Do you need to be in the same city as your clients? Does what you offer work better for potential clients who have two or more offices?
This is really important to understand. It will very quickly qualify potential targets in, and just as importantly, out.
It’s also pertinent to reconsider how much the importance and impact of geography has changed in the last year. The effects of the global pandemic have had at least one potential future benefit.
B2B purchasers are now far more likely to purchase services delivered using video conferencing technology. I’ve experienced this myself, as I’m currently providing services into Australia from here in Auckland, NZ.
This is a critical part of understanding your target audience. When I look at many companies’ websites or review my clients’ sales strategies, I often find that because their product or service can help all, or most sectors, they don’t define their core target sectors. This is understandable, but it tends to be less successful.
If you target a few key sectors it has two powerful effects for you.
Firstly, it helps keep your sales and lead generation efforts targeted and focused.
Secondly, when your potential client researches your company and website, they will feel that your product or service is specifically relevant to their business sector.
I made the decision to make it crystal clear on my website who we help. This clarity has led to inbound enquiries, which is a very good thing.
So now you’ve clarified your target market, you need to know who you need to target.
Who is it that is ultimately going to sign on the dotted line, and authorise purchasing your product or service? Analyse who this is carefully. As an example, you may be selling a software system, say a CRM, and as it’s IT you might be tempted to target the CIO or IT Manager. However, a CRM is used more by the Sales and Marketing team, so the Sales Director or even the CEO/MD may be the ultimate purchaser of your system. Therefore, you need to understand who the main decision maker is.
Some B2B businesses, particularly the larger ones, have a much more complex buying process. It may be that you need to get multiple stakeholders involved in the decision-making process.
Using the example above, you may well need the CIO, CMO and the Sales Director on board. But it may not stop at these three quadrants of your target business.
If a sale with you requires significant outlay, the CFO and maybe even procurement will need to be convinced. Finally, if it’s a truly significant purchase and one that will help your target client improve their processes and grow revenue, then the CEO will also be involved.
This means, before you proceed with contacting your target clients, do your homework and try to figure out who you need to talk to, and in what order.
READ: Sales and marketing for sole traders and new businesses
Once you’ve gone through the process above, you should have a clearer understanding of your target audience.
I regularly go through this process, and check to see if anything has changed from the last time I did it. As you understand your existing clients better, it’s very likely you’ll alter or tweak your understanding of your target audience.
The great news is that now this process is complete, you’ll find it much easier to launch successful sales, advertising and other marketing campaigns.