The Ideal Customer Profile
Okay let’s start off with that old Willie Sutton saw: When asked why he robbed banks, the famous or infamous bank robber responded, “Because that’s where the money is.” Which reminds me of some of the sales people we know who are out prospecting for new customers and orders while having no idea what they are looking for. They are just hunting.
Sometimes it is because the company they work for has not figured out what they do best. Sometimes it is because the salesperson is not paying attention and listening to what the company they are selling for does best. And often the salesperson and the company cannot even agree on what they do best and what companies they should be targeting as customers!
In some cases, the companies and the sales people are so lost that they can never get anywhere. After all, if you don’t know where you are going, then how are you going to get there?
There are a number of good reasons to develop a good customer profile including the fact that it will be used as a “filter” to eliminate chasing after the wrong type of customers and save a great deal of time and energy. This filtering effort will also give you the following advantages:
- Cut down on the amount of quoting you do
- You will focus on the right customers
- It lets your reps and direct sales people know what type of customers you want and who they should be targeting.
- It allows more time to service the right customers
This is why it is so important to develop a good ideal customer profile. I know we have talked about this in the past, but it is a problem that just refuses to die.
I would urge all of you to have a good accurate ideal customer profile which lists the kind of customers you should be targeting and why.
Here is what to consider when developing your idea customer profile:
Part One: Your company’s sweet spot
- Who are your best customers and why?
- What technology is best suited for your process?
- What services are best suited for your company?
- What do you do best?
- What markets are you better at addressing?
- What specs and qualifications do you have?
Part Two: Type of company to target
- Match the technology to what you do
- Match the services to what you do
- What size company do you want to deal with?
- Does what you do match what they need?
- Do they have the right synergy with your company?
Part Three: Services they require
- Quick turn
- USA domestic partners
- Global sourcing
- Product development
- Working with engineers and designers
- Engineering services
- Some R&D
- Low to mid volume production
Part Three: Other factors
- Do they place a high value on what we do best?
- Do they appreciate Quality products?
- Do they appreciate Reliability?
- Do they want to be a true partner?
- Do they see us as part of their future?
- Are they financially stable?
- Do they pay their bills on time?
- Are they willing to pay for what they get?
- Are they serious about buying a great board to go into their great products?
And finally get to learn everything you can about the customer and potential customers who makeup your ideal customer profile. Learn what is important to them and make sure that you are able to provide them what is important.
What is the best way to find out what is important to your targeted ideal customers? Just ask them. When you get in front of those customers ask them what is important, specifically to them. I say specifically because no matter how much you work on the ideal customer profile, there are some things that are going to apply just to that customer. While it is true that you can generally categorize and sort customers, each and every one of them has particularities that apply only to them. And that is the last step in accurately defining your ideal customers.
All of these factors and characteristics have to be evaluated when creating your ideal customer “filter” This is not an exercise to be taken lightly because this exercise done correctly will go a long way in making sure that your company’s sales and marketing effort will be as successful as possible. It’s only common sense.