How to elevate your targeting game
Make it easy for your buyers to chose you
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A couple of weeks ago we laid out the 2 strategies SaaS startups need to win in 2022, which are:
A greater emphasis on growth from existing customers—we covered this in last week’s issue.
A more sophisticated approach to targeting new customers—this is the focus of this week’s issue.
The era of quantity is over. No amount of martech wizardry can overcome the wastage from putting your message in front of people who are outside your target market. The era of quality has begun. Companies need to focus on their sweet spot and ignore the margins., which means taking a more refined approach.
Making the shift from quantity to quality can seem daunting if you have lofty goals for the top of your funnel. However, those lofty goals are based on having a low conversion rate from leads to opportunities. It’s axiomatic that improving your targeting, by focusing on quality, will improve your conversion rate.
The steps to improving your targeting are:
Build your Ideal Customer Profile
Develop your Unique Insights
Create Relevant Content
Develop a Focused Prospecting Motion
1. Build your Ideal Customer Profile
Your ideal customer profile (or ICP) is your definition of your sweet spot and comprises the following components:
1. Company attributes—common company attributes are size, industry, geography, number of employees in the company, number of employees in a department (e.g. engineering, sales), age of company, business model. In general, the more specific you can make the attributes, the clearer your ICP will be.
The easiest way to figure out this out for your company is to pull a report of your last 100 wins and losses, append the attributes and create pivot tables to identify attributes where the win % is highest.
2. Buyer personas—these are the people inside your ideal companies who will make the buying decision. Most B2B sales have at least 2 distinct personas, however the number of personas increases with the complexity and size of the sale.
Each persona has a role in the buying process (e.g. decision maker, champion, influencer) and can have a range of job titles, so it’s important to separate roles from titles as you build out each persona.
Each persona will have pain points (problems to solve), impact they are looking to achieve from solving the pain (which can be emotional or rational), one or more critical events (deadlines or existing initiatives) and a role in the overall decision making process.
The easiest way to figure out your buyer personas, pain points, impact, critical event and decision making process is to pick 20 wins and losses from your list of 100 and interview the salesperson who led the deal. You will quickly start to see patterns emerge.
3. Discovery Questions—these are questions that your salespeople can ask each persona in the initial conversation to surface their common pain points, probe for desired impact, discover critical events and identify the remaining buyer personas inside the company.
While discovery questions can be developed later, doing them upfront while building your ICP helps turn it into an actionable document that can be used across marketing and sales. For more on building an ICP check out my step-by-step guide.
2. Develop your Unique Insights
The purpose of your unique insights is to connect the dots between using your product and achieving a business outcome. The best way to package your insights is as a set of metrics which move favorably based on using your product more effectively and which are described in the vernacular of your customers’ business.
Let’s unpack this statement:
A set of metrics—metrics are always the most effective way to demonstrate impact because they cut to the chase, can be trended over time to show progress and provoke a reaction and engagement.
…which move favorably based on using your product more effectively—if your product solves the problem you say it does, using it will deliver the impact your customers are looking for, using it more effectively will maximize that impact, which will lead to opportunities to unlock additional impact (and revenue).
…described in the vernacular of your customers’ business—if you speak the language your customers speak, they will understand you faster, you will build credibility faster and together you will elevate the conversation to focus on impact rather than on explaining features and benefits.
3. Create Relevant Content
The days of buyers needing to speak to a salesperson to learn how a product works are dwindling fast. With so much information available online, buyers are doing more and more research before talking to vendors and these days most buyers prefer to speak to salespeople as late in their buying journey as possible.
To succeed in this environment, companies need to have a content strategy that is focused on creating as much helpful content as possible, not creating self-serving product pitches. The more content you create to help your buyers on their journey, the more likely they will come to you or respond to your outreach.
A relevant content strategy needs to accomplish 3 things:
1. Address the pain points buyers have—the most effective way to do this is with “how to” guides that acknowledge the pain, show the buyer is not alone and lay out the steps to solving the pain. If the pain is one your product solves, it should be obvious that it can be solved by using your product. This type of content should be written to rank in organic search, as your buyers are most likely going to start their research by typing their question into Google.
2. Provoke a response—the most effective way to do this is with unique insights that highlight the common problems your product solves and show how the most forward-thinking companies (aka your customers) are ahead of the game. Infographics and charts are the best way to present this content and it works best on social media and email, where buyers are more likely to see and share it with their colleagues.
3. Frame the criteria for evaluating solutions—the most effective way to do this is with content that directly compares your solution to your competitors. When a buyer types <your competitor> vs <your other competitor/you> into Google, you want them to come to your site so you can have a shot at influencing them. Many companies shy away from doing this and cede control to 3rd party review sites (like G2). All this does is reduce the framing down to the lowest common denominator, which invariably benefits the lowest price vendor.
It goes without saying that helpful content should be easy to access, so don’t gate it behind a form just to bulk up your email list, or make a buyer talk to a salesperson to explain the product. The true value of your salespeople is in driving alignment across buyer personas, not in giving product demos. Think about it like this: if you can research a $30k car before going to the showroom, you should be able to research a $30k SaaS product before talking to a salesperson.
4. Develop a Focused Prospecting Motion
Once you’ve built your ICP, developed your unique insights and created relevant content, the final step is to bring it all together in a prospecting motion.
The most effective prospecting motions are a combination of inbound (prospects coming to you) and outbound (you going to your prospects). Many companies make the mistake of using inbound and outbound approaches on different ICPs, however the best results happen when inbound and outbound are aligned on the same ICP.
Use your ideal company attributes to generate a target account list. Keep the list to a manageable size. 5-10x the size of your current customer base is a good guideline.
Use your buyer personas to create a list of contacts at each of your target accounts. Each target account should have multiple contacts.
Use your unique insights and content to create a sequence of messages to each of your contacts. Note that each buyer persona requires a sequence tailored to the pain and impact they are looking for.
Use your discovery questions to prepare for the first conversation you have with a contact.
As your organic traffic from search, social and email ramps up, identify your highest converting pieces of content and put paid promotion behind them.
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