Every company wants to attract more prospects and leads—no huge revelation there. However, there’s a big difference between just a prospect and your best prospect. A prospect falls into a large bucket that includes anyone who could potentially use your product or service, but what you really want to know is who your best prospects are – the ones you want more than any others? And why is this important?
Most small and medium-size companies cast a wide net when it comes to who they consider prospects; some, in fact, say their best prospects are “Companies that might buy our product.” Others might consider their best prospects to be within certain verticals (e.g. Petroleum, Municipalities, Power, Pulp & Paper, Chemical, etc.).
In reality, your best prospects are those that represent your ideal customer. How you define your ideal customer will be different from the ways that other companies will, but some of most common characteristics used to evaluate and identify those you want as customers include:
- The potential for a long-term relationship (including upsells, maintenance, and/or repeat purchases). Every sales team will agree it’s far less expensive to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one. In fact, Marketing Metrics data shows that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, and only 5-20% for new prospects. This means there’s more value in prospects that are likely to buy additional products from you, or even bring you more business. There may be opportunities to become more deeply or broadly involved with an organization, as you might be able to sell products to more divisions, locations, or sister companies.
- The revenue that suggests they have the money to spend on your product. The harsh reality is that not all of your prospects will have the budget (or are willing to spend it) for your product. If you find that smaller businesses (sales of less than $3 million, for example) consistently balk at your prices, try to align yourself with larger organizations (sales of $100+ million) that are more able to afford your product. Even if you can make a good case for the value your product or service delivers (ROI, cost-in-use, reduced maintenance, improved productivity, etc.), if a prospect is reluctant to pay the price, they really aren’t going to be your best prospect.
- Geographic suitability. This might not matter for larger OEMs that have the ability to ship large equipment anywhere, but for those that are bound by region – whether due to seasonality, the type of product they make, or other factors – your best prospects will be those that fall in your geographic market. Other prospects might be considered, depending how close to your region they are, but most that fall outside your area won’t be feasible customers.
- Evidence of partnership mentality. Some prospects are known to approach relationships with vendors as just that: a vendor who supplies something. Others, however, value the insights of their partner, and see them as a key part to their long-term success. These are the prospects you want to work with, and are invaluable as customers.
Why All This Matters
For industrials doing inbound marketing, your inbound program will be the most successful when you put your efforts towards your best prospects. Here’s why:
By aligning everything you do – your website, content, emails, social media posts, etc. – with your best prospects, and not just any/all prospects, you’re able to demonstrate that you understand that specific target, and you can address the specific needs and question those prospects have. There are often dozens of options available, and you want to create relevance and show that you’re the best, unique fit for those partners.
Say, for example, you’re the passionate owner of 1967 Porsche 911, and you have an engine problem you can’t fix. Are you going to take it to the auto repair/oil change shop around the corner, or are you going to take it to the repair shop that specializes in Porsches and other classic cars? Furthermore, if you’re the owner of that repair shop, and someone calls asking for help repairing their brand new electric Tesla Model S, is it worth the time and hassle to buy completely new parts and learn how to repair a Tesla, or are there other customers you could be servicing (like the Porsche owner) who are a much better fit?
While some companies might be hesitant to focus on certain prospects while paying less attention to others, this isn’t a “put all your eggs in one basket” strategy. You aren’t eliminating the option for “other” prospects to reach out to you or work with you; you’re just focusing more of your sales efforts on prospects that have a serious interest in working with you, and spending less time chasing leads that aren’t as likely to close. Other prospects will find you online as they search for solutions, because their concerns will be similar to those of your best prospects, and you will have the opportunity to work them. If your pipeline is full of prospects who are a better fit, however, you can be more selective with who your sales team pursues, and spend less time on leads that are clearly a bad fit.
At Weidert Group, for example, we specialize in servicing industrial companies and those that serve them, and write content specifically for those audiences. That said, other B2B companies often have similar concerns and needs, like generating leads or creating more interesting content, and see evidence of our expertise in a similar field before reaching out to us. We don’t limit ourselves from working with these companies; we just put the largest percentage of our efforts in working with the prospects we want to work with most—and truly want to work with us. That’s what it’s all about.