Table of Contents
- What is a Sales Prospect Profile?
- Why is a Sales Prospect Profile Important?
- Sales Prospect Profile Example
- Why you Need a Sales Prospect Profile
- Sales Prospect Profile Checklist
- Sales Prospect Profile Template
- How to Get Started
- Recommended Reading
1. What is a Sales Prospect Profile?
A Sales Prospect Profile is a fictional character created to help sales people understand which prospects are the most likely to buy.
They are similar to Marketing personas but have details that are more relevant to sales people.
2. Why is a Sales Prospect Profile Important?
Many products and services have multiple applications across multiple industries which can make it difficult for Sales Reps to focus on exactly who they should be talking to and what to say when they get in front of them.
Without that focus sales messaging can become generic and wash over sales prospects rather than inspire them to say “Tell me more”.
I’m sure everyone is familiar with the mantra “when you try to sell to everyone you end up selling to no one“. Well although this is easy to say it can be difficult to do.
3. Sales Prospect Profile Example
4. Why You Need a Sales Prospect Profile
Many marketing departments have created personas to target everything from web visitors/users to sales prospects and they are great however our concern was that all too often:
- The personas were never shared with sales and if they were, sales never knew how to use them to sell more and…
- From a sales perspective, there was often information missing that could be used to make the salespersons’ job easier.
So we created a step by step template to help Sales Rep’s target prospects who were the most likely to buy and what to say when they got in front of them.
5. Sales Prospect Profile Checklist
4.1 Name your Sales Prospect
Give your prospect profile a name. We called our prospect CEO Charles as in many cases you will require multiple prospect profiles and naming them helps you and your team identify each one quickly and easily. For example, you may have 1 prospect profile for each vertical market you deal with. In our business we also have Sam the Sales Director, Bill the buyer and Ben the Business Developer and Anna the Account Manager. Our goal was to make the profiles easy to remember and by adding the role to the name we instantly had a mental picture of the type of persona we were targeting.
4.2 Prospect Personality Profile.
In B2B probably more than any other sector people buy from people so the more you know and understand your prospect the better your chance of a) building a relationship and b) making a sale. For example, if your business primarily sells into the accountancy profession then it’s important to adjust your sales pitch to their style. Accountants are detail-oriented, factual and objective so it would make sense to include where possible supporting data, independent research and industry reviews. Now, this information might be worth including if you were talking to an Entrepreneur however the difference is the amount of data and research you include. Entrepreneurs are typically results-driven, make decisions quickly based on their gut and the big picture. So for them, you need to use bullet points, get to the point and not waste time.
4.3 Common Characteristics of Sales Prospects
Your best prospects will have common characteristics like their age, whether they are married, hobbies and interests. This will help you a)find them and b)relate to them when you make the first contact. As an example, if you are a salesperson for a legal firm focusing on Wills & Estates it might be worth joining a Bowling Club (Lawn Green not Ten Pin) because you are more likely to meet prospects who need your services there. If your target prospect profile is much younger then you might want to attend Startup conventions.
4.4 Triggers that make Prospects Buy
Triggers are the compelling events that motivate your prospect into taking action. An example here is where a Board of Directors may have questioned or challenged a particular issue at a board meeting which then spurs the CEO into action. Triggers can be driven by internal demand for example when a company moves to a new location they are most likely to require office refurbishment services. External triggers could be driven by legislation such as the GDPR legislation which drove thousands of companies to spend money on GDPR training.
4.5 Dreams & Aspirations
One of the first rules in sales is don’t sell people what they need, sell people what they want. The dreams and aspirations of your ideal sales prospect the “end game” that the prospect is seeking. These are bigger than goals and harder to get details on but as an example for a business owner, it could be an exit from the business that allows them the financial stability to retire. When you can align your products or services with your prospects achievement of their dreams they are much more likely to buy.
4.6 Goals & Desires
The goals and desires of your prefect sales profile are the business and personal outcomes the prospect is seeking and tend to be short term and more operational in their focus. Goals are usually the opposite of the Business pains they are experiencing, so as an example if you are selling Project Management software the goals of the prospect may be to have projects, run on time, projects run on a budget, have a greater insight into project progress.
4.7 Prospect Objection Handling
Many prospects have some objections before they buy and in most cases, that is a positive thing because Objections are simply requests for more information or clarification. Sales managers need to know the most common sales objections so they can create training and coaching programmes to enable the salespeople the best way to handle these objections.
4.8 Sales Roleplay
Although Sales Roleplay is rarely popular it is, without doubt, the best way to practice before speaking with a prospect. It’s better to struggle in a role-play than struggle in the boardroom, that way it won’t lose you the sale. To be good at anything, we need to practice until it becomes part of our muscle memory. Furthermore, Roleplay needs to be reinforced regularly. Going to the gym for 7 hours isn’t as powerful as going to the gym seven times for one hour.
Rather than trying to qualify prospects it can be helpful to change your mindset and use this information in the sales prospect profile to try and disqualify them. This helps remove the natural confirmation bias every salesperson has. Salespeople want to sell so by nature they will try to “qualify” everything. Especially if they have a weak pipeline.
4.10 Brand Alignment
Brand alignment refers to both the organisations brand and the personal branding of the salespeople. When you position yourself in the same way as your prospects you are subconsciously saying that you have things in common which helps raise your profile and build relationships faster. As an example, you could align yourself with a particular charity that your prospects are aligned with to raise your profile. This only works when you join in the charity work and raise money for them.
Sometimes Sales Reps can get frustrated as they attend networking events and leave with nothing. It may well be that they are simply the wrong events and the prospects that you are looking for never attend these types of events. Use the sales prospect profile to target the right events and then look to build relationships by helping and introducing people. Networking is about building relationships not selling.
4.12 Thought Leadership
Thought leadership is an easy way to differentiate yourself from the competition but to do this it’s important to stay up to date with their industry and their peers. Knowing what your prospects read and who they follow all contribute to a more interesting, engaging and value-driven conversation when the time arises.
4.13 Conferences, Industry Expos & Trade bodies
Attending events can be expensive and time-consuming even if you are not exhibiting however they are great places to meet and have face to face conversations with prospects. If budgets are limited you can attend as a visitor and simply network your way around the event and in the hotel afterwards. If the event is in or near a hotel you could hire a meeting room and invite prospects to attend who are already in town for the conference.
Use this information to Position who you and your organisation are. Done well this helps small brands compete with the big boys and makes selling much simpler as the prospect is part or fully pre-sold before the salesperson arrives. An absolute must-read for everyone in sales is Positioning – The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout which includes practical examples and strategies to help position your business.
4.15 Content Sharing
After completing the perfect sales prospect profile you will have so much information on your prospect it’s easy to start sharing powerful and relevant content with your sales prospects. This is usually free other than the time it takes to create the material and share it. Alternately you can share content from the Thought leaders your prospects follow, industry news and success stories. There are lots of digital tools available for this and this is a great way for salespeople to keep their name and their brand name in front of your target audience.
4.16 Warm Fuzzy
A warm fuzzy is a technique taken from the psychologist Claude Steiner and in sales, this simply means sending the prospect or client something that makes them feel “warm & happy” inside. Needless to say, this is about building and maintaining human relationships. Warm fuzzies (Part of Transactional Analysis) simply demonstrate to the prospect that you have not forgotten about them. The simplest example of this is sending a Xmas card to prospects however you can extend this to birthdays and anniversaries. Culturally this might seem inappropriate to some people and if that’s the case you could send a personal email with a news article you though relevant to them or an article related to their hobbies and interests.
4.17 Lead Nurturing
Lead nurturing is a structured process to maintain contact with the prospect after an initial inquiry before they are ready to buy. This is best done by providing value and insight to the prospect all the time positioning your organisation and solution as the go-to provider. In most cases Lead nurturing is done using Marketing Automation tools however it’s equally possible to schedule a series of Tasks in your email calendar and nurture the prospect manually. This may not be efficient however for large value B2B deals it is very effective.
4.18 Root Cause Analysis
Root Cause Analysis is a technique used in Consultative Selling that helps the prospect uncover for themselves the underlying causes and impact of their problems. Combined with Socratic questioning this is an extremely powerful sales tool. Using a Root Cause analysis it’s possible to create questioning funnels that allow the Sales Reps to control the sales conversation and focus in on the relevant business pains that are important to the prospect.
4.19 Sales Messaging
Sales Messaging is what we say when we first contact our perfect sales prospect and is designed as a conversation starter. This could be on social media, networking, trade shows, events, telephone, email or even in an elevator. Your sales message differentiates you, positions you, drawing the prospect in to simply say “tell me more”.
That’s it – 19 Steps to Create the Perfect Sales Prospect Profile
6. Sales Prospect Profile Template
Congratulations now you have created your first prospect profile incorporate all the information into your sales process and where required coach the sales people on the where, when and how to use it. You may require multiple profiles if you sell a range of products and services or you are selling into different industries.
7. How to Get Started
It can be daunting trying to find all the information that you need to create your prospect profile however there are two easy ways to get started.
- Identify your current best customer by what ever criteria you choose and then simply call them up and explain to them that you are doing some research that you believe they can help with and ask if you would be allowed to buy them coffee or lunch to discuss. At the meeting show them the template and ask them if they would help you complete it. People are normally always happy to help and this demonstrates that you value their business and their opinions.
- If you don’t have any customers and are a Start-up take the prospect profile back to the people that you researched your original value proposition with. If you skipped validating your value proposition you should check out How to Validate your Value Proposition.
If you don’t know what you are looking for and you simply won’t know when you have found it. Take time out to complete the prospect profile and this will save you lots of time and money in the future and more importantly it will help stop your salespeople chasing ghosts – poor prospects that will never buy but suck up a lot of your time and energy.
8. Recommended Reading
You can read more about and download all the FREE tools templates and guides mentioned in this article via our Sales Tools page.