Stephen Heiman and Robert Miller write in their book The New Strategic Selling
that trying to sell to everyone indiscriminately is bound to create bad orders and bad relationships.
They recommend using an Ideal Customer Profile against which to measure your actual customers – so that you can focus on the good ones, get rid of the bad ones, and anticipate problems with those who fall in the middle.
You can create an Ideal Customer Profile for your business by making a chart like the one above, and following the below 5 steps:
1. List your best customers
You should determine the criteria, but a key guideline is to focus on those past and current customers that have given you the maximum number of wins with the minimum amount of trouble.
2. List your worst customers
Again, you should set the criteria. Focus on those customer relationships in which you feel that either you or the customer, or both, have lost – even though the deal closed, and regardless of the amount of money involved.
3. What are the common characteristics of your best customers?
Some examples might include: a commitment to quality control; their business ethics and integrity; or an innovative and progressive management team. Heiman and Miller suggest that you avoid general characteristics like “needs my product” or “has money to buy” – the characteristics you list here should be unique to your best customers.
4. What are the common characteristics of your worst customers?
Here are some examples that Heiman and Miller list from their own experience: being inflexible on price; being secretive and unwilling to cooperate; an authoritarian management system; or they want you to lose so they can win.
5. Create your Ideal Customer Profile
Follow these steps:
- First, look at the list of characteristics of your best customers, and ask yourself: Which of these are most significant?
- Next, look at the characteristics of your worst customers: identify the most significant ones, and then ask yourself: What are the opposite characteristics?
- Finally, take this combined list, and select the top 5 characteristics that are most important to you – together, these will define your ideal customer.
Now that you have a profile of your ideal customer, you can look at each of your current customers and ask: How well does this particular customer match with each of the top 5 characteristics?