We are now a few months into the new year. Often, at the end of the prior year, I spend time talking about the year ahead. I ask the sellers that I coach what they want to accomplish. Where do they want to be at the end of this year? We discuss their professional sales goals, and then we begin to make a plan together to help them achieve those goals.
I encourage them to make sure they understand the importance of high priority prospects or what we call target accounts. Ensuring sales teams understand how to identify, develop, and close (or walk away) is a critical part of sellers achieving their objectives throughout the year.
Target accounts are the very best prospects that are identified. They have the potential to become a ‘big account,’ and could represent a large percentage of overall revenue. We recommend limiting the number of target accounts to pursue (less than 10) to allow sufficient focus. The appropriate number varies by situation, and in many cases as few as 3-4 may be the most appropriate.Here are some important things to remember when prospecting for target accounts:
- Some prospects are better than others, and qualifying them will determine which of the prospects that are identified should become a target account, lead, or not pursued.
- Good target accounts can come from existing clients or new prospects. Consider which current clients have the greatest potential for significant growth and which new prospects deserve the most time and attention.
- When determining if a prospect or client could be a target, consider these criteria:
- Dollar Potential: Are there signs that this is a high-margin or high-volume product or service?
- Access to Decision Maker and Decision Influencers: Have they been identified?
- Fit: Product or service, local focus, change in business or category, openness to new solutions, growth or trouble mode, seasonality, or factors unique to the business.
Once target prospects are identified, it's critical to actively work through the sales process with each one. Sellers should be honest with themselves and let go of a target that might not be headed in the right direction. When the decision is made to stop pursuing a specific target, make sure to identify a new one to replace it. By actively pursuing targets and continuously replacing ones that don’t work out, sellers will be on a solid path to success to reach their goals!