David: Even if we accept the idea that we’re going to interact with people who are not ideal clients, I think one of the other things that causes salespeople trouble is when they’re afraid to disqualify a prospect. To say, okay, I’m no longer going to follow up with this person.

I’ve always viewed it a little like the game musical chairs that you played as a kid? You got a certain number of people going around, a certain number of chairs, and when the music stops, everybody scrambles to get a chair. And if you don’t have a chair, you’re out, right?

And I view prospecting that way in some respects. Where you have to, at some point, start to prune the list. You have to start to get rid of the people who are not likely to become clients. And if you’re afraid to do that, then you will continue to leave the same number of chairs and the same number of people.

Jay: Yes.

David: And if none of them are buying, it’s not going to work well.

David: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. In today’s episode, co host Jay McFarland and I will be discussing letting ideal clients know you’re alive. Welcome back, Jay.

Jay: Hey, so good to be here, David. And I think this is, again, such an interesting topic. I find that I’m so caught up in the daily, just taking the calls and squeaky wheel gets the grease, and some of those ideal clients kind of go by the wayside sometimes.

David: Yeah, and a lot of times we don’t even know who they are until we first try to identify them. So, in a sense, the topic itself goes kind of deep because you can’t know they’re an ideal client until you even know that they’re alive. And then you have to let them know that you’re alive, and then you have to determine if they’re an ideal client.

Jay: Yeah.

David: So there are actually a few steps in this.

Jay: Yeah, and I think that’s such an important thing to know, kind of have a system, like you always have, of identifying those ideal clients. It’s hard for me to really figure out if they’re ideal up front. But I’ll tell you one thing I can tell is when they’re not ideal.

I was on the phone call with somebody yesterday, he’s going to become a client, but I’m regretting the relationship I know I’m going to have with him because he’s already so demanding. And I’m like, this guy’s not ideal, but he’s a customer. And so, how can I not sell him the product?

David: Yeah, that’s a great question.

And it’s harder for some than others, I think. You get to a certain point in your business or a certain point in your career or whatever and you weigh it. Well, I guess we all do that. We have to weigh it. How much of a pain is this person going to be? And what’s my tolerance for pain essentially, right?

Jay: Yeah. Yeah.

David: But you’re exactly right. You don’t really know that necessarily upfront. So a lot of times when we’re working with our clients, what we’ll do is start with the people they think are likely to be their ideal clients. And whether that means in a certain geographic area or in a particular industry or in a certain sized company, if they’re selling B2B, You can make some initial judgments based on who has been a good client for you in the past, and then say, okay, how can I get more people like that?

And then when you’re introducing yourself to those people who meet those similar criteria, as you’re having those conversations, you can then start to make those determinations about whether or not they are an ideal client, or if they just sort of fall in that general ecosphere of people who could potentially be ideal clients, but maybe aren’t.

Jay: Yeah, exactly. And not just finding new ideal clients, turning your existing ideal clients into more business. Because if they were ideal the first time, if you can keep that to be a generating ongoing revenue source and relationship… Man, I’d rather do that every day than deal with the other type of customer.

David: Yeah, no question. And when you get to the topic we started out with, which is letting ideal clients know you’re alive, that does go for your ideal clients as well. The ones that have been buying From you for a long time, the ones that you already know are ideal. Sometimes it’s just about remaining in touch with them, staying in front of them, remaining top of mind with the people that you already know are your ideal clients. And that’s something that not everyone does. Sometimes the allure of future business is so strong that it pulls us away from the people that we know buy from us, trying to bring new people through the door. So there’s definitely a balance that comes with all that.

Jay: Yeah, absolutely. So what would you say? I kind of have an idea in my mind. How would you describe in your business the ideal client?

David: Well, of course, it’s different for everyone, but ideal clients, I think for most people, it’s going to be somebody that you don’t mind interacting with.

That’s a good criteria to start with. I think willing to communicate is key. Because if they’re not going to have conversations with you, they’re not going to be a great client. It’s just going to be very difficult to get information out of them and to be able to get them what they want when they want it, if they’re not willing to communicate with you.

So likable, communicative, and ability to buy. Do they have the ability to spend money on the products they want? Some people are really nice to interact with. They’re very pleasant, but they just don’t have the financial wherewithal. They don’t have enough of a desire to be able to invest the money to be able to become a really good client.

I mean, those are just some of the criteria, but like I said, it’s different for everyone. And there are a lot of people who don’t even take into consideration the first one that I mentioned. Are they pleasant to deal with? And… I know in the early stages of my business and maybe even into the mid stages of various businesses that I’ve been involved in that wasn’t always the criteria.

It’s like, can they make a purchase? And sometimes people who are not all that pleasant to deal with can make purchases. But then what does that do to your quality of life? And what does that do to your customer service people and the other people in your organization who have to interact with people like that?

So, definitely a balancing act. But when I think of ideal clients, and one of the reasons that I even use that word is to say we all get to decide what that means. So whether it’s personality based, whether it’s dollars based, whether it’s proximity, availability, all those things go into it. But it is going to be different for everyone.

Jay: Well, and again, like we talked about at the beginning, just having that thought process, because as so often before I talk to you, I think, I’ve never sat down and kind of drawn out what my ideal client is. I can tell you when my phone rings and I see the caller ID and I’m like, Oh, please, I don’t want to talk to that person.

That’s probably a good indicator that that’s not an ideal client. But on the other hand, I’ve had people that will talk to me all day. I know who their kids are, you know, I know everything about them, but they never purchase, but they love to talk to me. So on both ends of that spectrum, I don’t have an ideal client.

David: Yeah, but you probably are forming an idea even now because just based on what you said, it’s like, Oh yeah, there’s that person that talks a lot and doesn’t buy. There’s that person that’s rude and obnoxious and does buy. Neither of them are ideal clients. So where’s the middle ground? And there are very likely clients that you have.

And I think a good way to do this, this is something I’ve recommended to my clients a lot, is to print out a list of your clients, people who have spent money with you, in dollar order, from the most down to the least. And take a look at the top people on your list and ask yourself, how many of those meet the criteria of, you know, I like interacting with them, they’re a good client, they’re willing to communicate.

Chances are a lot of them are going to be that way. And some of them might not be, but very often the ones who cause you to flinch when you see their name come across the caller ID, very often they’re not the ones that are at the top. They’re down lower and they’re taking up a lot of time. They’re not generating a lot of revenue.

And at that point you can start making some of these determinations about what does constitute an ideal client from your standpoint?

Jay: Yeah, I love that. Being very deliberate. One of the other things you might find is one of those clients that you really like working with, you find out they’re not really spending a lot of money, but they’re taking a lot of your time because they love to chat and you have a great relationship.

So you may, in your mind, think this is an ideal client. When you actually put in the numbers and take a look, you may realize… It’s not really working out the way I thought it was.

David: Yeah, you may also realize that somebody that you think of as an ideal client is actually a former client. Like they might not have purchased from you in years, but you like them so much that you tend to want to think of them as a client. And…

Jay: Yeah.

David: That’s an important distinction to make. Because if you just like talking to them, that’s great. Don’t stop talking to them. But also don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re a client if they haven’t purchased from you in a really long time.

Jay: Yeah, someday, somewhere in the future, they’re going to purchase again and they’re just not planning on it. They’ve moved on or they needed your service one time and you built a relationship with them and that’s it. That’s all you’re ever going to have is a relationship, but not a financial one.

David: Yeah. And as salespeople, we’re all prone to this. There are people we like, people we enjoy interacting with. It’s like, Oh, well, at least I’ll be able to have a nice conversation here.

And even if we don’t think that objectively, it’s going on in the back of our mind. “Oh, I like talking to this person. And if it doesn’t result in business, well, that’s okay. Cause I like this person,” or whatever.

But it’s just good for all of us to have a really clear idea of what is our purpose for picking up the phone, for visiting the person, for texting them, or emailing them, however we’re getting in touch?

What’s the purpose of the communication? If it’s just to have a nice conversation, that’s fine, but try not to think of that as actually being a business call.

Jay: Well, yeah, because most of us, if we’re on the phone, if we’re taking the time to pick up the phone and dial somebody, we have a goal and that is to close a sale.

David: Right.

Jay: And if we’re spending a lot of time doing other than that, because it’s more comfortable and it’s more fun, right? It’s more relaxing and you don’t have that anxiety of the cold call, but it’s not going to get you anywhere.

David: Exactly. And so when we think about this topic, letting ideal clients know you’re alive, it starts with reaching out to people.

So some of the things that you should start with are. How am I doing that? How do I want to reach out to people? Am I going to be doing it in person? Am I going to be doing it on the phone, via text, via email? What are the different methods of communication that I’m going to use? And how often am I going to be doing that?

How many of these outreaches am I going to be making in any given day? And it’s always a good idea, whether or not your employer requires it, to have a goal in mind for yourself in terms of how many outreaches you’re going to make to new prospects and to existing clients. And that alone can make a huge difference.

Because if we go with the original tenet of what we’re talking about here today, it’s that if they don’t know you’re alive, they can’t buy from you. And so our goal is to make people aware of the fact that we’re here, that we can help. And determine whether or not they’re interested in having us help them.

And if they are, that’s great. You continue the conversation. If not, you can disqualify that person and then be on to somebody who could potentially be an ideal client, maybe as soon as your next conversation. But that’s really what it boils down to.

And a lot of salespeople make the mistake of thinking that their job is to continue to reach out to the same people over and over and over again. Even if those people have pretty much determined or demonstrated that they’re not a good fit, that they’re not likely to buy. And sometimes that just gets into a comfort area too. I feel more comfortable making the call, even if it’s not going to result in the business. And ultimately, if the goal is to find people who are a good fit for you, people who understand the value you bring to the table, people who are ready, willing, and able to spend money with you.

Or even if they’re not ready, they’re willing and able, just not right now, but you have some idea of when they’re going to be doing it. If you’ve got a reasonable expectation of business, then it makes perfect sense to follow up. What doesn’t make sense to follow up on are people who have demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to buy, and you keep going back to that same well over and over again, and each time you’re surprised when it turns up dry.

Jay: Yeah, yeah, and I talk about this a lot, having a good system to track when did you call last? What was the outcome of that call? And to have a funnel that you move them through? Like, in my business, the text is always the most Now, the direct call is the least effective now, and I can get a response from a text very quickly, and then the email is the second, and then the call is really the call of last resort, right?

But once I’ve gone through all of those and I’m not getting a response, then if I’m keeping my records properly, I’m like, okay, it’s pretty obvious they’re not going to respond. I throw them into a drip program where they’re still getting regular contact from me, but I’m not getting on the phone or spending my physical time or effort.

Because they may not be ideal today, but three months from now, they may have a huge project come in and they need you again. So you do want to still keep in touch with them, even if they’re not ideal today.

David: Right. And even if we accept the idea that we’re going to interact with people who are not ideal clients. I think one of the other things that causes salespeople trouble is when they’re afraid to disqualify a prospect. To say, okay, I’m no longer going to follow up with this person.

And I’ve always viewed it a little like the game musical chairs, you know, that you played as a kid, you got a certain number of people going around a certain number of chairs, and when the music stops, everybody scrambles to get a chair. And if you don’t have a chair, you’re out, right?

And I kind of view prospecting that way in some respects, where you have to, at some point, start to prune the list. You have to start to get rid of the people who are not likely to become clients. And if you’re afraid to do that, then you will continue to leave the same number of chairs and the same number of people.

Jay: Yes.

David: And if none of them are buying, it’s not going to work well. So I believe that part of identifying your ideal clients is eliminating the ones that you’ve determined are not, not just ideal clients, but are not worthy of you, worthy of your time and attention.

We’ve talked in the past about the idea of worthy clients. Are they worthy of your time and attention? And if you can make that determination that they’re not, then it frees you up to be able to approach some new people who could potentially qualify as ideal clients for you.

Jay: Yeah, just a quick note, I never feel bad putting somebody in a long term drip program. Because I know that’s one less person on my list that I’m going to be trying to call fruitlessly. And I know they’re still going to get contacted.

So I’m like, yeah, long term drip, move on. And I know that that will save my time. So that’s kind of my mentality. How do people find out more, David?

David: Well, you can go to TopSecrets.com/call, schedule a call with myself or my team. And if you’re in a situation where you’re trying to attract more of the ideal clients that you need to operate your business successfully, schedule a call. TopSecrets.com/call. We’d love to have the conversation.

Jay: Absolutely. It’s great talking to you as always.

David: You too. Thanks Jay.

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