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Sales lessons from a Squid Jigger

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 Back
I admire Squid Jiggers. These brave fishermen head out in the dead of night to the continental shelf and use overhead lights to attract and catch squid using ‘jigs’ (aka lures). You’ll be pleased to know that, due to the highly selective nature of Squid Jigging, the mechanically powered jigging machines rarely cause problems for protected species or damage the sea floor.

In other words, it’s an environmentally friendly way to get delicious calamari to our plates.

So why the sudden interest in Squid Jigging?

‘Squid Jiggers’ appeared on the list of ‘Ideal Client Profiles’ of a client of ours. They were included in the ‘agricultural industry’ section when I first saw the list in 2015 and were still on it last week.

When I asked our client if they’d ever had any luck prospecting to a Squid Jigging company, the marketing manager admitted that he didn’t know what they did. We Googled and discovered that Squid Jiggers would never need his company’s services and removed them from the list forever.

So, apart from a new-found respect for Squid Jiggers, this exercise got me thinking how often we, as salespeople, get our ideal customer profiles completely wrong. The profile is never going to be 100% right but creating a solid profile of attributes lessens the chances of wasting time and energy on the wrong prospects.

What does my ideal customer profile look like?

The profile that my team uses when prospecting for Forrest Marketing Group (FMG) is very specific. We know the annual turnover of our ideal clients, how many staff they’ll have, and the value of a sale for their sales team, to name a few of the common traits.

We prefer to prospect to Head Offices and deal with the decision makers, so we factor that in. While location and type of industry are not as important for FMG, when a company meets our profile requirements then there’s a high likelihood that they will have a need for our services. They make it onto the prospect list, and I can always remove them later.

And so it goes on. We refine and refine until we have utter clarity on our targets.

Likewise, we ask our clients a series of questions when they come on board with us so we can start to identify their ideal client.

Some of the questions we ask.

    • What are your main target industries or niches?
    • How big are the companies you want to work with? How many staff do they have? What’s their annual turnover?
    • How long have they already been in business for?
    • Do they have to be within a certain geographical location?
    • Who is the decision maker within those companies that you need to deal with?
    • What is your unique selling point?

That’s a great starting point, and there are many ways to flesh out a customer profile to make it an indispensable prospecting tool.

Tip 1: Make it detailed

If I were to say that our ideal customer was “any business that needs help with marketing”, we’d be going nowhere, fast. Make your profile as detailed as it can be by asking yourself the questions above, and be very specific with things like turnover, sale value for their sales team, budget, location, industry, etc.

Tip 2: Identify shared traits

Make a list of your top 10 customers – that is, real customers who are currently succeeding with your solutions. What shared traits and characteristics do they have? Can you see common themes? Be sure to build these into your profile.

Tip 3: Think about what makes a customer NOT a good prospect

Working out who you can’t work with is just as important as who you can work with. E.g. By knowing that you’ll be wasting your time prospecting to companies smaller than 40 staff members, you can rule out relationships that are not going to be mutually beneficial.

Tip 4: Reassess your profile regularly

Go through the process of identifying your ideal customer profile regularly. Things change, and what worked for you three years ago may not work any more. You could be wasting a huge amount of time, energy and money prospecting to the wrong people, much like our Squid Jigging friend.

I must admit that I’ve been using the phrase ‘Squid Jigging’ around the office a lot for anyone who is prospecting without a plan – or ‘Ideal Customer Profile’ – in place.

However, looking back over this article, I think I’m going to use ‘Squid Jigging’ to describe the exact opposite.

Squid Jiggers know exactly what they want. Their entire organisation and all their equipment is geared towards a very specific target and they know what’s required to net them.

Next time you feel like you’re prospecting in the dark, think of the Squid Jiggers. Let your ‘Ideal Customer Profile’ be the overhead light that illuminates the ‘jig’ that your prospects can’t resist.

Also check out my other recent posts

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Reaching customers is easy. Getting the message across is harder than ever.
The easy way to reclaim your selling mojo
Is social selling killing the art of relationship selling?
Why doing the right thing, in sales, is always the right thing
Are sales people really necessary?
Disrupt Your Prospects - The value of early engagement in B2B marketing

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