Well, last month we discussed how to find your “Fred,” your ideal customer. If you haven’t read it yet, you might want to read it now and perhaps my blog post following up on some of the questions I received. This week, as promised, we’re going to talk about how to implement a sales strategy to win your Fred.
I will point out again, although I made it clear in the first article, that it’s still OK to accept non-Fred business IF IT’s PROFITABLE TO DO SO. Fred selling is all about the pursuit and where you put your energies. To review a bit, the three characteristics that determine your Fred are: Demographics, Specific Contact Title or Role, and Attitude. Now that we’ve got that straight, I’m going to assume that you’ve identified your Fred. Now let’s put him in the crosshairs.
1. Define your sales process for getting Fred. Here’s where it gets tricky. Can you create a process to generate inbound Fred leads at the same time that you implement an outbound process? Are there any specific steps that you need to insert in order to get a Fred’s attention? One company with whom I’m familiar created a Fred-only inbound sales process. They created a webinar that was strictly targeted to their Fred, so much so that it would be of little interest to others but high interest to Fred. Then they built an ad campaign around driving their Freds to the webinar, with a payoff of a consultation call with their Fred that resulted in Fred joining their sales process. Yep, it worked – but it took a lot of commitment on the part of their entire staff, marketing and sales.
2. Decide how much of your sales force’s time is going to be spent going after Fred. I am a fan of balanced sales – salespeople need regularity in results to stay on an even emotional keel – so the first thing you should do is figure out how you’re going to dedicate your resources to chasing Fred. Unless you’re really, really lucky, it won’t work out for your salespeople to be spending all of their time selling to Fred – so what is the appropriate mix? Over the years (unless there are very, very few Freds), I’ve found that a 50/50 mix works nicely. That means that you can simply take your existing sales activity metrics (you do have those, right?), and split them in half. Hence, if your salespeople need to perform eight appointments per week, four should be with Freds, etc.
3. Create Rules of Engagement. You need to define how to sell to Fred. What level of effort are you going to make to get Fred? What are acceptable parameters (price/profitability/terms) are you going to assign to Fred business? This should be self-solving, since Freds are your most profitable customers, but you still need to guide the process. This is also a good time to put some rules and parameters around non-Fred business so your sales force has a level of discipline about what they pursue and what they accept.
4. Train, train, and train some more. Your Freds deserve the best – and that means the best selling effort you can give. Think of your face time with Fred as your “Lightning Round,” the time that’s the highest potential reward. How skilled are your salespeople? Do they have the skills to correctly discover, define needs, success, and results with Fred? Can they give a world class presentation that will show Fred why you are the only potential source? In short, are your salespeople equipped for the job? Training isn’t a one time thing, it’s an ongoing investment. INVEST.
5. Put your BEST people on Fred. One mistake that I see – particularly on the relationship building and servicing side – is that too many companies allow their weaker players to be in charge of their Fred relationships. DON’T DO THAT. If Freds are your key contributors, then your key people need to be in charge of every step in dealing with them. Think of airline first class service here. Do you think that airlines put their newest, least experienced and trained flight attendants in First Class? Not hardly. They put their very best people up there because they know that First Class passengers are spending the most, the most often. Take your cue from them.
6. Get EVERYONE on the same page. Everyone in your company needs to know what a Fred is, how you’re going to go after Fred, and how you plan to retain and build relationships with Fred. That means that Marketing and Sales need to be aligned and on the same page. It means that Service, Shipping, and other support departments need to be tuned to the idea that you go the extra mile for a Fred, and if Sales says, “this is a Fred,” that no other conversation needs to happen.
Like I said last month, yes, this is a lot of work. That’s life. Excellence isn’t easy, but it is profitable and this is how world class sales forces generate world class performance. If you want to get past mediocrity or “acceptable” results, Fred is Job One.