Selling to Everyone = Selling to No One. How to Get More of Your Ideal Clients

Steve Kaz KasinetzConsumer Behavior, Lead Generation, Perpetual Marketing, Small Business CRM

Blurry People

When I was running a CRM consulting company, somebody had asked me, “Who’s your ideal client?” I responded “Anybody with a checkbook. After all, everybody needs CRM, right?” At the time, the vast majority of our business came from referrals. Doesn’t that seem like it would be a good thing? We didn’t spend a lot of money on marketing. Our clients were happy and referred prospects to us. We were growing slowly. Life wasn’t too bad.

Here’s the question: how do you dramatically increase sales when all your business comes from referrals? Experience has taught me that unless you know who your ideal clients are, the answer to that question is, “very, very painfully.” The essence of good marketing is delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. If you don’t know “the right person,” your chances of creating “the right message” are very slim. It’s like throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping something sticks.


Earlier this year, I attended the Rainmaker conference by SalesLoft, a company that helps their clients with sales engagement strategies and tools. Keep in mind this conference is about “sales engagement”, and the product sits on top of Salesforce. There were about 12 sponsors, and all had booths and some decent swag.

I am not a SalesLoft customer. I was there to learn more about account-based selling strategies. Some of the vendors there had good products that could potentially help some of my clients.

I walked up to every vendor booth, and 11 of the 12 conversations went like this:

Me: Who is your ideal client?
Vendor: We have all sorts of different clients.

Me: SMB’s, Enterprise?
Vendor: We have customers that have only 1 license and customers that have over 1,000 licenses.

Me: Is there any industry that you’ve been more successful in?
Vendor: We have clients in automotive, healthcare, insurance, technology, finance, blah, blah blah…

Me: Do they have to use SalesLoft to use your product?
Vendor: No, we integrate with blah, blah blah…

Me: Most of my clients use HubSpot and Infusionsoft. Do you work with them?
Vendor: Not sure, but we can work with anybody. We have a great API.

Here is the best conversation I had:

Me: Who is your ideal client?
Vendor: Companies between 50 and 100 sales reps that have recently made the transition to account-based selling.

Me: Is there any industry that you’ve been more successful in?
Vendor: We have been extremely successful with technology product and service providers that sell into the enterprise space.

Me: Do they have to use SalesLoft to use your product?
Vendor: No, but unless you’re using Salesforce, you don’t get as much value out of our product.

Think of Your Company’s Web Presence as an Online Dating Profile

I met my wife on and we are still happily married. I guess it works. I recently hosted a workshop for the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce on the subject of “How to send the right message to the right person at the right time.” Half of the workshop was spent on helping companies identify their ideal customers. To illustrate the concept of how companies try to appeal to everybody, I used examples of online dating profiles:

Profile A – This person provides the bare minimum amount of information

Profile B – This person wants to be everything to everybody.

This profile can be posted to, ChristianMingle, JDate, FarmersOnly, CityOnly, SuburbanOnly, Tinder, Grinder, and every other dating website you can imagine.

Profile C – This person is highly targeted with age, location, and even dislike of children

I polled the audience on what profile they thought had the best chance of finding their perfect match. I had just spent 30 minutes discussing the concept “if you sell to everybody, you sell to nobody”, so I was hoping everybody would pick Profile C. Here were the results:

Did I not clearly articulate the importance of defining your ideal clients or was everybody sleeping after lunch? Here were some responses from the audience on why they picked Profile B:
“He appeals to everybody”
“He doesn’t limit himself too much”
“I like the pictures” (I can’t argue with them on that)

The next question I asked was “Which one of the above profiles is most like your online presence?” Here are the responses:

FOMAC – Fear of Missing a Client

Small businesses are so afraid of defining their target market because they may miss out on a potentially good client that doesn’t fit their profile. It may be counterintuitive, but the narrower you define your market, the easier it is to sell.

There are a few reasons why this is true:

  • Domain Expertise – Every industry has its own jargon. If you sell to call centers, you better be using terms like AHT, ANI, DNIS, ATA, and FCR. Which sounds better: “We have really nice dashboards” or “We pull data in real time from the ACD and when your ATA exceeds your SLA, we can notify you via SMS…”?References – Would you pay a zero-experience guy $100,000 to build a pool for you? Or a pool builder who said, “We build a lot of pools in your neighborhood. Since you’re inside the city, the zoning laws require that more than 68% of your property can’t be covered with non-permeable material. We can’t include the pavers in the design to the city. And because of the amount of trees around here, the standard pool cleaner won’t work, so I’d recommend an in-floor cleaning system. I just installed that system for somebody living here. We can visit their house so you can see how it works.”
  • Targeting Prospects is Cheaper and Easier – I recently paid somebody $50 on Upwork to get me email addresses and LinkedIn profiles of all CPAs and financial advisors in a specific county, have 1-10 employees, independent, have a blog which hasn’t been updated in over a month. Once that list was created, we were able to do all sorts of targeted ads. When you’re paying by the impression, no sense in impressing people that will never do business or refer people to you.

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