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Just Because We’re In Your ICP Doesn’t Mean I Have A Need To Buy!

by David Brock on January 22nd, 2019

I wrote about how badly too many sales people conduct discovery with their customer: Are You Guilty Of Conducting “Non-Discovery?”

It’s useful to expand on that initial post. We know the importance of focusing your prospecting and pipeline development efforts on people and companies fitting your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). These are the customers who are most likely to have the problems/challenges that our solutions address. Trying to find opportunities outside the ICP is a pure waste of time–unfortunately too many sales people are glad to waste their time in this way.

But just because you are focusing on customers in your ICP, doesn’t mean they have a need to buy. There could be any number of reasons, including:

They don’t have the problem you address. Just because they are in the ICP doesn’t mean they have the problem your products and services address. The ICP just focuses you on those that are likely to have the problem but can’t tell you that every customer fitting the ICP has the problem.

They have already solved the problem that you address. Whoops–too late, better luck next time. Maybe check, are they happy with their current solution? What’s working, what would they like to see different, how important is that to them?

They don’t care about the problem. While we think the problem is something that should be important to the customer, some simply don’t care. Perhaps probe to understand why they don’t care, maybe they don’t understand the impact on their operations. Maybe they don’t really understand the issues. But if they do and they still don’t care, you are pushing a rock up a very steep hill and annoying the customer.

They have higher priorities. While they may recognize they have a problem, they may have higher or different priorities and are focusing on them. Perhaps you can try to raise the priority by understanding what’s happening now and the impact of doing nothing. If you can’t raise the priority, nurture them until they do think the problem is important.

They don’t know they have the problem and don’t know they should care. This is the golden opportunity! Too often, people just don’t know what they don’t know. They may not realize they have a problem, that there is a better way of doing things, or they may be missing out on opportunities. You have the opportunity to educate them, inciting them to change.

The ICP is the critical starting point for all your prospecting and your pipeline development. But it is just the starting point, you have to drill down into each customer situation to understand and qualify real opportunities and those customers that have a compelling need to buy–or with whom you can create a compelling need to buy.

Afterword: Thanks to Joel Lyles for provoking this post!

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2 Comments
  1. Joel Lyles permalink

    Hi Dave!

    Thanks for following up on my post. If possible, I want to explore one of the topics on your list (which especially applies to existing customers):

    | They have already solved the problem that you address. Whoops–too
    | late, better luck next time. Maybe check, are they happy with their
    | current solution? What’s working, what would they like to see different,
    | how important is that to them?

    One of the cases, a customer was using a piece of manufacturing equipment in a way that caused a bottleneck. The customer was unhappy but resigned to our solution, because while we were otherwise the best alternative they didn’t know they were using our solution in a suboptimal way. We suggested they change their manufacturing ‘recipe’ to eliminate the bottleneck and after a few demos they were so delighted they placed an order for another machine.

    And time this morning, a user was using our Saas product in a nonstandard way that required a lot of operator attention and afterhours busywork. The solution worked, but it wasn’t making them happy. They didn’t know we had a (very inexpensive) product that would eliminate the extra hassle with our solution. You can imagine how happy the admin was after our demo and call.

    • Joel Lyles permalink

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that even if a customer says they’re happy, especially if they’re a current customer, you should always dig a little deeper. Oftentimes ‘I’m happy’ means ‘I think this is the best I can do, so I may as well be happy’.

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