When times get tough, it can be tempting to look for revenue anywhere you can find it. As one of my first sales managers used to say, “If they can fog a mirror and sign an order, we’ll take it.”
The reality is that not all revenue is created equal. And, as I say in my own business, “Not all clients are created equally.” There are some clients who provide more value than others. In this current environment, it is more important than ever to focus on "ideal clients."
What is an ideal client? These are clients who need everything you sell. They have value because they are candidates for all of your products and/or services. They have fit because they align with your culture. Ideal clients are especially important when:
You have limited marketing and sales resources.
Unless you are a major company, chances are you have limited sales and marketing resources. If you try to market and sell to everyone, you will end up reaching no one. Understanding your ideal client profile allows you to focus your business development efforts on a specific group of prospects. You might tell your sales team, “You can sell to anyone, but 100% of the time you will call on these ideal prospects.”
With ideal clients, business development also takes on an additional dimension. Since these clients need everything you offer, the marketing and selling don’t stop when the first order comes in. In fact, selling and marketing begin with the first order. Focusing your business on ideal clients allows you to direct marketing and sales resources to harvest the additional revenue opportunities in these accounts.
You have limited operational resources.
The combination of the current supply chain crisis and the tight labor market clearly demonstrate that even the best companies have limited operational resources. In this environment where we are acutely aware of limitations, it makes sense to focus resources on serving the type of clients who have the most revenue potential.
The old adage, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” tends to be true in daily operations. The reality is that many of the squeaky wheels tend to be nonideal clients. As a result, many times it’s your nonideal clients who end up getting most of your team’s effort. At the same time, morale suffers. Resources get diverted away from ideal clients and you miss the opportunity to maximize revenue and retention of ideal clients.
In the book At Your Best, author Carey Nieuwhof explained how leaders can fall into the trap of spending their best time on fire drills and challenging employees rather than proactively investing in their top leaders. But we need to intentionally schedule time with our top leaders because this is what will drive the organization forward.
Similarly, it can be easy to let the team’s resources get diverted toward challenging clients who are not ideal for your business, thus causing you to neglect ideal clients. But your ideal clients are ideal because they are likely easy to work with. That means you need to intentionally invest time and resources in them, even if they are not being the squeaky wheel.
You have limited financial resources.
Revenue is the lifeblood of business. I conduct revenue growth workshops with businesses across multiple industries, and I have consistently seen that ideal clients have significantly more revenue potential. Plus, ideal clients will be those customers who are more loyal, value what you do for them and see you as less of a vendor and more of a partner. That means they have a much greater chance of sticking around. If you need more revenue, I believe ideal clients provide the most sustainable path. Since they value what you do, they tend to pose fewer problems.
Focus on ideal clients.
Now, more than ever, smart businesses focus on ideal clients. This begins by understanding your ideal client profile. Next, identify the current and prospective clients who fit the profile. This allows you to focus your sales, marketing, and operations efforts around attracting ideal clients and cross-selling all of your products and services to them to maximize revenue potential.
Originally published on Forbes