When you have an idea, product, or service to sell, it’s natural to want to share it with everyone who will listen.

After all, it’s your livelihood we’re talking about here. When you fail, you suffer.  

So you chase prospects… and chase, and chase, and chase… But without the results, other people seem to get. The discouragement kicks in when you hear NO again and again, or worse—nothing at all.

The wind goes out of your sails as your ego deflates. Your head hangs a little lower every day.

You stop approaching prospects with enthusiasm and excitement about the benefits you’re offering and the problems you’re solving.

Instead, you start approaching them with a sense of dread, anticipating another rejection, another missed sale, and another cold shoulder. After all, a NO can be a hard word to hear.

But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way for you any longer.

Go After the Wrong Things and You Get Nothing but Frustration in Return

Have you ever seen someone inside one of those money wind machines where cash is flying everywhere and the person only has so much time to grab all they can get?

What usually happens? They go crazy clutching at everything—and usually, end up with next to nothing.

Prospecting can often feel that same way.

You can be really busy chasing down leads and setting up meetings, or retargeting ads—only end up with little to show for it in real sales.

Why?

Listen up! You’re chasing after the wrong people.

Your Idea, Product, or Service Isn’t for Everyone

The truth is it takes intentional planning to focus on your target audience, the customers, or audience you really want.

Any warm body may give you hope in the short-term, but not everyone will give you the sales you need to succeed.

Your idea, product, or service—whatever you sell—isn’t for everyone.

In fact, it may not even be for most people. And that’s OK.

The sooner you realize this truth, the more efficient your prospecting can be.

A common mistake is to spread the net too wide, thinking that all prospects are potential customers. But that isn’t the case.

If you think that way, you’ll end up being busy but not selling much.

You’ll be chasing down suspects, not prospects and wasting all your time and energy in the process.

3 Questions to Ask to Identify Your Target Audience

I’ve learned a little about selling over my forty years of entrepreneurial success. I’ve sold more than $5 billion in global sales and build twenty companies to over $100 million in revenue each.

Here’s the secret I’ve learned about prospects.

You may have heard the expression that someone is “ready, willing, and able.”

Those are also the three qualifying questions to ask to determine whether you have a suspect or a prospect.

1. Are They READY?

Your target audience must be ready to buy.

That means two things:

  • They have a need
  • Your idea, product, or service meets that need

For example, if you sell high-end luxury cars and someone already has two or three high-end luxury cars, they probably don’t NEED another one.

Or if you sell baby products, like I used to do when I was a teenager, you’re not looking for couples who don’t have children.

It seems obvious, but it’s easy to chase people who really have no need for what you are selling.

In the direct sales world, you hear this expression a lot: you’re looking for people who are looking. That’s exactly right. Ideally, you want people who are ready to buy what you’re selling because they have a need you can meet for them.

Selling is something we do for our clients—not to our clients. — Zig Ziglar

Now, in some instances, people don’t know they have a need and you have to uncover it for them. This is the beauty of selling to the right customers. You provide a service that makes their lives better.

For example, if you sell life insurance, someone could need it, but not really be aware of that need.

In that instance, you can identify the type of person most likely to need the insurance and then persuade them of that need to make the sale.

Your potential customer must first be READY to buy.

2. Are They WILLING?

Willing customers have a DESIRE to buy what you sell.

Think about the luxury car example again. Someone may not have a luxury car because they don’t like luxury cars. Maybe they take pride in driving lower budget cars or another vehicle like a pickup truck. So, they may technically have a need, but no desire to buy.

And in the baby products example, a young couple may need what you sell, but if they don’t place a high value on providing quality products for their children, it’s going to be a tough sell.

Fortunately, most parents do value their children’s safety and comfort. But you get the idea.

Your prospects must not only need what you are selling but also want it, too.

Now, the good news is that you have the most control over this area of prospecting. You can help them see the value of what you sell and increase their desire by painting vivid pictures.

You can guide them to see a better future with your idea, product, or service.

But they have to be WILLING to buy.

3. Are They Able?

Being ABLE means at least two things:

  • They have the financial means to purchase.
  • They have the authority to make the purchase.

It doesn’t matter how much someone needs or wants a luxury car, if they don’t have the money, they’re not a good prospect.

Likewise with baby products, for example, a young couple may want and need your products, but if they’re both unemployed, they may not have the ability to purchase.

You have to assess whether potential customers actually have the financial means to buy. Doing this helps you not waste your time on the wrong kinds of customers.

That can be tricky because a lot of people will give two reasons for not buying:

  1. No money
  2. No time

The truth is that both of those excuses are usually just that—excuses.

How we spend our money is all about our priorities. So is time.

Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have 24-hour days. — Zig Ziglar

So when you hear someone say they don’t have money or time, know that you need to dig a little deeper. However, you will find instances where people really do not have the money to buy.

Find the Decision Makers

Even if they have the money, that doesn’t mean they’re able to purchase, because they may not be the decision-maker. This happens a lot in corporate sales. You may develop a great connection with someone in middle-management, but when it comes time to buy, they have to get permission from someone in C-suite leadership.

When this happens you have to start selling all over again.

So whenever possible, identify decision-makers and build relationships with them first.

Are You Chasing Suspects or Prospects?

Your prospects must be:

  • Ready—They have a need you can meet.
  • Willing—They have a desire for what you’re selling.
  • Able—They have the money and authority to make a decision.

If they don’t have these three things, you’ve got suspects, not prospects. Forget the suspects. They suck your time away and leave you with little to show for your effort.

But focusing on customers who are Ready, Willing, and Able will lead to success and financial rewards.

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