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How to Maximize Your Time and Opportunities

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As business owners, we often wonder when and where we'll find the ''mother lode''—that one major customer who will keep us busier than we could ever imagine. To face this challenge, we search high and low, continually trying out various marketing ideas, calling on customers, looking for more profitable industries, and sometimes trying to offer new products and services.

Do you ever stop to evaluate how often these efforts work out the way you had anticipated? Unfortunately, they don’t usually produce the results for which we had hoped, leading to loss of valuable time and money. What if there was an easier way to grow our business that required less effort and produced better results?

The following are three activities that can be easily implemented for any business:


  1. Targeting account planning and marketing
  2. Evaluating existing accounts
  3. Identifying centers of influence
Targeting Account Planning and Marketing

One of the biggest time savers is learning how to properly target the correct prospects. Target account planning is the process of identifying customers who have a need for your product or service. Deliberate and effective target account planning is much more productive than simple cold calling when searching for a prospect. There are three components to this process:
  1. Identify your ideal client.
  2. Determine your best profitability.
  3. Prioritize those opportunities that fit the description of your ideal client.
Once you have your list of prioritized targets, find out what they need, and provide a solution to solve their need. What is the most effective way to accomplish this? Typically in sales, people recommend a certain percentage of cold calls and playing the “numbers game.” This is not an effective use of time or money. Spend the time researching and creating inroads instead.

For example, if you don’t know the decision makers for your target accounts, find a lead-in for those organizations. The best type of lead-in is a personal introduction. Use your personal and business network to see if anyone you know has a relationship with the decision maker. If that does not work, find out what activities and social and/or community groups your targets associate with, and try to get an introduction during one of those events.

Be creative. Don’t just pick up the phone and call strangers. It may seem to take a lot more effort to try to find a lead-in first, but in the long run, you will have a much better chance of obtaining positive results.

Once you have identified your optimal customer targets, you should move on to target marketing. What’s the difference between the two? Target account planning is geared towards going after single accounts one at a time. If your business requires more volume, it would not be practical to target each and every consumer. For high-volume customer businesses, the planning activity that should be conducted is a target marketing campaign. The process is similar to target account planning, but it takes place on a larger scale. Instead of understanding the needs of individual customers, you are identifying the more general needs of everyone in an entire market.

As an example, look at the daycare-center industry. Would it be more cost effective to market to everyone in the community or to market to families with children who fall into certain age groups? The obvious answer is to target your marketing efforts towards families with children. But all children don’t go to daycare. There are other variables which should be considered for this market, such as income bracket, single-parent households, etc. This is another reason that it is important to understand who your ideal client is, because if you don’t, your marketing and sales efforts could end up wasting valuable resources.

With target marketing, you want to determine your ideal market, find out where those people are likely to be reached, and develop a focused marketing program. The idea is to create enough interest so that your potential customers will visit your store, website, etc. For example, if you sell customized children’s books, you would probably develop ads for children’s or toy magazines versus the business section of your local paper. The trick is to market to a focused group that would have a need for your product or service rather than to everyone possible.

Evaluating Existing Accounts

The easiest person to sell to is someone who has already purchased from you in the past. Many people overlook the simple fact that people prefer to do business with those they know and trust. The best way to evaluate your existing accounts is to make a list of all of your customers, along with the products and services they have purchased from you in the past, and then look for opportunities. For example, is it time for a new or upgraded product? Would a particular customer be interested in other items you have to offer? Make a list of all of these opportunities, and then start contacting those customers. You will be surprised by the amount of business you can generate.

Identifying Centers of Influence

Were you taught that a businessperson or salesperson should spend a certain percentage of time cold calling each week? There are some who have built up tremendous business by cold calling. If that is the case for you, then keep doing what you are doing.

However, for the majority who don’t have the time to cold call and who want to produce results more quickly, the most productive method is to spend that time identifying centers of influence and building strategic alliances. The numbers are simple: you make one cold call, and you only have one opportunity; when you have partners or alliances from whom you are receiving quality referrals, you have an endless stream of opportunities month after month.

Instead of spending most of your time on cold calling, allocate significant time to finding centers of influence or strategic partners. When you are introduced or referred to someone, you are 73% more likely to generate a sale from that lead than you would be from a cold call. We recommend that you have five to 10 key people with whom you personally exchange leads. For example, the people you identify as strategic partners for your business or as centers of influence should have virtually no customer turnover, should be well known in the community, and should have an ideal client similar to your own.

Final Thoughts

Each year, between 80% and 90% of small businesses that get started fail. The number-one reason for this is that they are not able to generate sales. Without sales, there is no business. To ensure your business remains viable and produces the income you dreamed of, incorporate processes and techniques that continue to allow new business to develop. When you incorporate the strategies above, you will maximize both your time and the opportunities that are available.

About the Author


Henry Pellerin is the president and founder of VantaEDGE™ Inc. and co-author of The Strategic Selling Process. VantaEDGE™, Inc., provides customized sales training, consultation, and facilitation services. Henry personally has had more than 17 years of experience in sales, sales management, and business development, and he shares his expertise with clients to help them receive the same results he has attained year after year.

You may want to sign up for the VantaEDGE™ monthly sales tips newsletter, VantaEDGE Monthly, from which you’ll receive valuable selling tips each month along with the special report “Avoid the Top 10 Selling Mistakes That Lose Sales.” To do so, visit www.vantaedge.com. Henry can be reached at 864-254-9300 or via email at henry@vantaedge.com.
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