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Who Is Your Customer?

by David Brock on October 5th, 2021

Do you know who your customer is? More importantly, do you know who your customer isn’t?

Perhaps the biggest thing that impacts our performance is we don’t know who our customer, we define our ideal customer in such vague terms that we waste a lot of time and brand equity on customers that we should never be selling to.

If my various inboxes are any indicator, the majority of sales and marketing people do no targeting other than, “Do we have an email? A phone number? A LinkedIn ID? We get prospecting outreaches from companies that should never reach us. We don’t buy industrial machinery. We don’t deal in commodity buying/selling. We aren’t a healthcare company and don’t buy medical devices/pharmaceutical products. We aren’t interested in your products because Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Siemens, Citicorp buy your products. We aren’t interested in the enterprise wide products the large consulting and professional services firms use. We are a specialized boutique consulting company.

We aren’t your customer and you are wasting our time/your time and reputation by continuing to try and sell to us.

When I do reviews with clients, the one of the biggest issues that adversely impacts performance is sales people wasting too much time on the wrong customers. When I ask, “What’s your ideal customer profile,” the response is usually “Financial services organizations, ” or “Healthcare,” or “Industrial Manufacturing,” and the list goes on. When pressed, they may say, “Large financial services companies,” or “Medium sizes healthcare companies,” or ……

Pressed further, they may narrow this even further beginning to describe functional parts of the organization or job titles, “CFOs in large financial services companies,” or “HR execs in medium sized healthcare companies,” or ………

While these narrow things from anyone who fogs a mirror, this is still far to broad. Yet we waste huge amounts of time chasing opportunities that are outside our ICP, we have this view that our selling skills and perseverance can overcome anything.

Even within our market/firmographic/demographic/persona profiles not every organization is “our customer.” Organizations have “personas,” as a result 2 organizations that may be virtually identical from a market/firmographic/etc will have very different personas. One may be very aligned with our own organizational persona, one may be very different. The latter is not our customer.

When we’ve narrowed things down to our ICP based on a rich/deep profile, not all of those that remain are our customers. They may not have the problems we solve, those problems may not be important to them–at least at the present time. They may not be committed to doing anything about these problems, the consequences of doing nothing may be far less than the challenges of changing.

As much as we may want/wish we could sell to them, until they are committed to changing, they aren’t buying regardless of how hard we sell.

We waste a lot of time with people/organizations who are not and should never be our customers. We waste a lot of time with organizations that could be our customers–though they don’t have the problems we solve.

Our customers/prospects are only those who fit our ICP (think of the bulls eye of a target). They are those organizations that have prioritized the need to solve the problems we solve. They are the organizations who have committed to a change and doing something about those problems.

These are our customers. Don’t waste your time–or their time on anything else.

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