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Land your biggest sale in 2012, Part 2: How to pick your target

photo courtesy of Mr. T in DC

It is more important to avoid the wrong target than it is to pick the right target for landing your record-breaking sale in 2012. In this five-part series, I want to lay out a road map for landing a transformational sale for you and your company.

To land big sales, a record-breaking sale, you need to close the aperture through which you look at your market to a pinprick and hunt only those accounts that fit. Joe Mauer, the Minnesota Twins batting average leader for 2009 said that the reason he was successful was that he swung only at pitches he could control, not just those he could hit. If he hit every pitch he could, he would probably get out more times than not. But since he was not paid to hit, but rather to get on base, he had to hit what he could control.

The bite-size guide to landing your biggest sale in 2012, Part 1

The same is true in hunting your biggest sale. There are plenty of companies you could sell and could work with that you that you should leave alone. Maybe it's the wrong time, or they have the wrong problem to solve, or they buy for the wrong reasons. Or maybe they're just the wrong people. Regardless of category, they are just wrong and therefore you should not be selling to them.

How to pick your target:

1. Start with size. What is the scale of organization that will generate the largest sale for you? You may measure it by number of employees if you are in insurance. Amount of square feet of carpeted space in an office building if you sell commercial cleaning. Number of suppliers and distribution centers if you are in logistics. The point is that there is a critical mass threshold necessary to make your cut.

2. What's their problem. 90 percent of what you and your competitors provide is similar enough that the difference only matters to you, not your prospect. What is the 10 percent of the problem that you solve uniquely? Big people pay big money to have you solve a big problem for them.

3. Point of entry. To land bigger sales, you have to talk to people higher up in the organization. Wherever your target is now for first contact, you are either too low in the organization to land your record-breaking sale or you are high enough, but in too small a target. You need to change one or both.

4. Speed to purchase. To make your biggest sale in the next year, you are looking for a prospect who is making his or her decision faster. That means that the issue has the following qualities:

-- Scale: The problem is big enough to get attention and visible enough that it has to be fixed.

-- Frequency: A single incident will be addressed internally or through disciplining the incumbent. The buyer's issue has to be persistent and frequent enough to move people beyond annoyance to change.

-- Urgency: What is the triggering event that makes the buyer want to change? If this is just a low-level issue, then people adapt and learn to live with it. Oh sure, they'll meet with you, hear your ideas, consider your proposal...and then do nothing. There has to be a triggering event, otherwise you have wasted your time.

5. Causal link. Your buyer has to see in real numbers and benefits a direct link between your solution and the benefit that they are seeking. ROI, business case, TCO and all sorts of other mechanisms and representations are used to answer the rather simple question: "If I make this change, what is the real hard-benefit I will get from your solution?" The stronger the link, the better your chances.

The point I am making is that you should not even begin the process of intentionally targeting an account as your record-breaking sale if you can't answer these questions first. That means that instead of prospecting and hoping to find the right set of favorable circumstances, you are going to target and research to determine in advance these five criteria. Odds are strongly in your favor of winning when your targets match these.

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