Clearly define your prospect for easy sales

Clearly define your prospect for easy sales. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Clearly define your prospect for easy sales. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Who is your prospect? The inability to respond with clarity to this question is the cause of many botched sales. First though, who is a prospect?

It is anyone with the need and ability to buy your product or service. Without a prospect, the sale aborts. Prospecting is the cornerstone of successful selling. And yet, most sellers don’t maintain an active prospects list. But that’s a story for another day.

Today, I want to narrow down on the ability of defining who your prospect is- something most sales people cannot do. So, they pitch to suspects (anyone).

This not only increases the odds of a failed sale, it also makes it impossible to get referrals.

Their responses to the question, “Who is your prospect?” are usually general depending on what one is selling and could include: ‘anyone who wants a loan’ (Who doesn’t?

The question is can they afford it and are they the defaulting kind?); or, ‘all of you’ (meaning you see us as one lump of clay and there’s nothing special about your service); or, ‘anyone in the PR sector’; or, ‘the wealthy’ (a client of mine who sells holiday homes at Sh80 million a piece is first to admit that simply because one is wealthy and can easily afford three homes does not make one a prospect.

He explains: “They must also define their self-actualisation from a wanting-the-finer-things-in-life perspective.”).

Any of the vague responses shared compound the sales challenge further because they are not only hazy, they are impossible to elicit a useful response to the request, “Please refer me to anyone wealthy (or, who wants a loan)”

Compare those responses to these. The chief executive or finance manager at institution X. Better still, by name: Zainah Tendwa, the supply chain director at LMYE; or, Abdi Sheikh the human resources director at Bank Q; or, staff at (this) Ministry.

The difference in definition is captured every morning in traffic-free newspaper vendors selectively distributing them to private car owners and not passengers in the matatu and certainly not pedestrians.

It’s not an absolute prospecting science (and therefore sale) but it significantly increases the chances of near perfection (and therefore, a sale).

Accurate definitions are determined by ones service or product and call for working harder than usual.

And that’s the rub most sellers avoid. It means you have narrowed down, say, your enterprise resource software to a specific person who you need to pitch it to.

You can even define this person’s interests and likely places she can be found.

It is true that loans are for everyone and holiday homes are for the wealthy.

However, the prudent salesperson leaves this definition to marketing and companies strategic discussions. Such general definitions make sense there as are used to describe a potential market.

But they are the map; selling is the actual territory. Specificity is the king.