There’s one basic question that every company asks when evaluating a customer: “How much business do they have?”
There’s much more to evaluating a customer beyond how much business they have. Maybe it’s the size or regularity of their orders. Maybe it’s the range of products or services they need. Maybe it’s the way they make purchasing decisions, or maybe it’s just that they want the kind of help you can provide.
Does their business fit you? Is it what you do well? Are they willing to pay a fair price?
Take a closer look at your best clients. You’ll almost certainly find that they fit you in a variety of ways. Somehow doing business together feels easy. They ask for products you want to sell or services that you can provide without fuss. They just fit into your normal way of doing business.
Why not take the time to look for those signs and ask yourself: “Where are there more like them?”
It’s your job to choose target accounts, establish a plan for learning about those targets and focus your salesforce’s efforts on making progress.
You choose the targets and they execute — with your help and oversight.
I have a friend in Michigan who runs a big sales department. We discuss customer selection from time to time. When he hears of most salespeople’s approaches to prospecting. he often shakes his head, laughs and says: “if you want to eat venison, don’t go shooting at squirrels.”
What do you want to eat?
If you want to eat venison, don’t go shooting at squirrels.
You certainly have to find the right people to sell for you, but you have to be just as confident that they’re aiming at the right targets — companies you’ve selected because they fit your definition of good customers.
There are lots of elements that make some customers more desirable than others, but their desirability is strongly influenced by the way their needs align with the things you do well, and how they align with the manner in which you do things. More narrowly, elements of customer desirability will usually include:
Why not spend some time thinking about what makes customers better for you. And when you figure it out, why not do something about it?