“Who are my best potential clients?” is a question many professional service and technology firms take for granted until they find themselves playing host to clients that are anything but ideal. In most cases, these firms have either never bothered to formally identify their best clients, or they have identified them incorrectly. In today’s competitive market, understanding who your best potential clients are is critical in order to grow profitably.

“Every company, large or small, does things that make it easier for some customers to do business with it, and harder for others. Selecting the right customers is critical, especially if resources are constrained and the brand is little known.” MIT Sloan Management Review

Here are 6 steps you can take to help identify your best potential clients:

  1. Bigger Isn’t Necessarily Better: Every firm wants to go after the “whales”.  It’s human nature. They think it’s the quickest way to grow revenues and be hugely successful.  However, prospects with large revenue potential can be very difficult clients, demanding a significant amount of time and effort at very low rates.  In effect, they treat you like a vendor, not a partner. In addition, competition for those high revenue-generating clients is fierce. We suggest you avoid chasing whales and focus on prospects that are more likely to buy your products/services and are looking for a true partner
  2. Not All Revenue Is Good Revenue: You need to overcome the notion that you are obligated to work with anyone who expresses an interest in your business. As you try to drive revenue growth, it’s easy to get caught up in the mindset that you have to take any business that comes your way. Make sure that the business you are bringing on fits the solutions that you offer.  There is such a thing as bad business.
  3. Get Clues From Your Current Client Base: Look at your existing clients.  If you’re like most firms, you already have some “great” clients.  These are clients that you enjoy working with and where there is mutual respect between your two organizations.  They’re also willing to pay you for the value you deliver.  Identify the characteristics and qualities of the clients that you have great relationships with already.  What do they have in common?  What were their pain points? How did your solutions solve their business problem?  Do they refer other prospects to you?  Use this information to build (a) preliminary profile(s) for the types of prospects you want to pursue.
  4. Create Your Ideal Client Profile(s): Once you have developed your preliminary profile (s), make it more robust by collecting and adding demographic data.   Look at things like industry segment, revenue size, number of employees, geography to see how those attributes made a specific client better or worse. The key here is to try to identify the key characteristics that go into making a great client. It’s essential to use data, not intuition or “gut”, to make such critical decisions.
  5. Test, Test Test: Up to now, this has been a data collection exercise.  It’s time to implement.  You now need to test your profile(s) to see if they are going to work.  Start small – pick 5-10 targets that fit your profile(s) and begin your sales process.  See what’s working and what’s not.  Learn from your test targets and adjust your profile(s) based on your calls.  Continue to test until you are comfortable in the knowledge of who your potential clients are and which ones you should prioritize to target first.
  6. Go Like Hell: You now know the best targets to call.  Develop your sales messaging and marketing strategies against those targets and Go!  But remember, stay on track.  There will always be bad prospects and bad engagements out there just waiting for you to say yes – consider each and every deal, how they stack against the profile you built, and how similar they are to the other ideal clients proven by data.

Once you identify who your best potential clients are, you will instinctively approach your business with a renewed sense of purpose. Focusing your marketing efforts on such clients will have a huge impact on your business.

Now that you know how to identify your best potential clients, let us know how the exercise goes in the comments. Also, feel free to share this post on social media with any colleagues you think could benefit. If you’d like to take a deeper dive into marketing strategies in general, grab your copy of the 6 Tips for Accelerating Your Growth to uncover insider marketing secrets.