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How To Focus Your Professional Services Marketing On High-Probability Buyers

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Posted by John Beveridge on Apr 23, 2018 11:38:42 AM

Focus on high probability buyers

In Demand Gen Report’s 2017 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey, 59% of respondents said, “the winning vendor had more insights about our company and its needs.”

If you’re a $50 million cybersecurity company, you don’t care how a potential vendor helped Google. But you do care about how a potential vendor solved a problem for one of your peers.

Focusing on high-probability buyers is probably the most important part of your sales enablement process. B2B sellers need to target limited resources on opportunities that are most likely to become long-term profitable customers.

The biggest mistake you can make is to be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.

3 areas of focus for sales enablement

There are 3 areas of focus that you need to take into account in your sales enablement process.

Ideal Customer Profile

Buyer Personas

Jobs to be Done

Let’s take a look at each of them.

An ideal customer profile defines your best customers and opportunities

You know that there’s an industry, geography or company size that is in your sweet spot. By focusing on that sweet spot, you get more referrals and your customers are happier. It’s like a snowball rolling downhill.

How do you define your ideal customer profile? For established businesses, it’s a matter of identifying the best customers you have and looking for commonalities.

Whether it be industry, geography, company size or other demographic factors. There are typically one or two segments that you do exceptionally well with.

Knowing what your ideal customer looks like allows you to focus resources on high probability opportunities and avoid chasing resource-wasters.

Considerations on choosing a niche

  • How many opportunities exist within this niche?
  • Do the companies that compose this niche talk to each other?
  • Do you have relationships or specialized knowledge about the niche?
  • What are the costs to provide a specialized product/service for this niche?

Sample Ideal Customer Profile


Professional services and technology companies in the United States with revenues between $5 million and $200 million that want to implement and improve a sales enablement process.

Buyer personas represent attributes of the typical buyers at your ideal customer

There’s also a typical buyer at your ideal customer. If you’re an accounting firm, it might be a CFO or controller. If you’re an insurance agency, it might be a CFO or Human Resources VP. You get the picture - you probably have that typical buyer in your mind right now.

In order to focus your sales enablement process, it’s important to know the attributes of your typical buyers. B2B buying processes are becoming more complex as buyers look to manage risk. That means you probably have more than one buyer persona to take into account in your business.

Buyer persona considerations

Demographic Information

  • Age range
  • Gender
  • Education level
  • Job titles

Psychographic Information

  • Personal goals
  • Professional wants, needs and pain points
  • Professional ambitions

Communication Preferences

  • Where do they get information to help them do their jobs?
  • How do they like to be contacted? (email? phone? text?)

Buying Roles

In the wake of the great recession of 2008, risk management is on the minds of every C-Suite executive. What this means for sellers is that buying processes are longer and more people are involved in the decision-making process. Here are some of the typical roles you will encounter in the buying process.

Economic buyer: this is the person from whose budget the purchase will be funded. In SMB sales, this is often the CEO or Managing Principal. They increasingly rely on the expertise of their teams in the decision-making process.

User buyer: this is the person or people that will actually use your solution on a daily basis. They are concerned with the ease of implementation of the purchase and whether or not it will work as promised. You need to convince them that you will make them look good.

Technical buyer: this is the person responsible for ensuring that your solution integrates effectively with their current systems and processes. They are interested in ease of implementation and minimizing disruptions due to integration problems.

Procurement buyer: this is the person that ensures that your company and solution complies with corporate (or public) governance requirements.

If you’ve had a situation where you were working with a CEO and were astonished when you didn’t get the deal, it’s probably because you didn’t cover the other bases in the buying process.

Make sure to create buyer personas for all of the buying influences for your solution. This will often mean creating multiple content types for everyone in the process.

Jobs To Be Done is what a buyer wants to achieve when using your solution

The Jobs To Be Done theory was developed by Harvard Business School professor and innovation expert Clayton Christensen when hired by McDonalds.

A fast-food chain interested in improving milkshake sales spent months doing market research, peppering customers with questions about their milkshakes.  Was it chocolatey enough?  Thick enough?  Did it contain the right amount of syrup?  But this gave no new insights.

”They then brought in two consultants to examine the problem, who were surprised to find that quite a few milkshakes were being sold in the morning.  After conducting in-depth interviews, the team discovered that customers were buying milkshakes for breakfast during their morning commute.”

“Instead of caring about thickness or flavor, customers were actually drawn to the fact that it was relatively tidy and could stave off hunger until lunch.  In this instance, the competitor wasn’t other milkshakes, but easily consumable breakfast foods like bagels and bananas, giving the chain an entirely new perspective on ways to compete. ”

Consider the job you’re customer is hiring you to do and focus on getting that job done!

In our case, buyers aren’t hiring us to provide marketing services, they’re hiring us to help them generate more leads and drive more revenue. In the customer’s eyes, our success or failure is judged based on how well we help them get that job done.

A focused business development strategy requires discipline

It requires discipline to walk away from “opportunities” that fall outside your targeted market. This is particularly true for new businesses trying to gain traction. After all, the “opportunity” might just be what you need to take you to the next level.

But be careful - all that glitters is not gold. The “opportunity” will likely be a trip down a rabbit-hole that wastes your time and distracts your focus from your targeted niche.

It also takes discipline to ruthlessly qualify opportunities. Tread carefully with those that don’t fit your niche, have a budget for your product/service or don’t have a real business problem that your company can solve.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t share information with them or use lead-nurturing to stay connected to them. After all, circumstances change and the buyer may allocate a budget or recognize a problem that you can solve.

Drop unproductive niches!

Let’s say you’ve targeted a niche based on past business relationships and knowledge of the business practices of members of the niche. You create marketing content and sales processes to exploit the niche. But the sales just aren’t there.

Your first step is to review analytics to see why the sales aren’t there. Are you getting enough new business opportunities? Do the members of the niche see you as uniquely positioned to help them? Are there external factors impacting the niche that present challenges to selling your product or service?

All of these questions should be reviewed to determine if you should change your approach or drop the niche from your integrated marketing strategy altogether.

A focused strategy requires discipline

Rather than be on the lookout for new customers outside of your targeted niche, keep an eye open for new niche opportunities that may arise. For example, you may be focusing on a select group of industries.

In the course of your networking, you might meet someone who offers access to a specific geographic region or demographic. You should evaluate these situations based on how they might evolve as a new niche for your integrated marketing strategy.

Keep in mind that each sale within your target niche makes the next one easier. In small circles, your customers will share success stories and ease the way to initiate sales conversations with other niche members.

Unless your an enterprise-level business like Google or Microsoft, you should focus your marketing strategy on targeted markets or niches where you can provide a customized solution designed to solve their unique problems.

You should get to know this target market inside and out so that you can learn its collective problems and pain points. Develop highly-targeted marketing content, sales outreach and product/service solutions that will demonstrate that you’re uniquely qualified to help.

Do it all with discipline and don’t chase opportunities outside of your target markets. In a highly competitive economic environment, a focused professional services marketing strategy is your best chance for success.


Topics: Professional Services

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