“The 21st century is a digital book. Zola told HYDRA how to read it. Your bank records, medical histories, voting patterns, emails, phone calls, your damn SAT scores! Zola’s algorithm evaluates people’s past to predict their future.” -Jasper Sitwell, Captain America: The Winter Soldier


Back in 2010, I partnered with two of my tech associates to provide hosted VoIP services to SOHO businesses. One afternoon, my sales partner, Mike, and I performed a service review with a small business owner providing local IT consulting. Like any sales meeting, we discussed his office environment and his current business issues.  We also looked at what he wanted for the future growth of his company and how it would impact his team.

After our meeting, Mike and I did our post call analysis while driving back to the office.  Mike said, “This is a sweet little opportunity.  Do you know what I like about this guy?  He is young and energetic.  He understands technology.  Did you see what type of phone he was using in his office?”

I said, “Forget the phone.  Did you notice that he was taking notes on his tablet instead of using pen and paper? “

Mike said, “Yes, I did.  That’s exactly the kind of prospect we’re looking for.”

Creating a Profile for Your Ideal Customer

During the drive back, Mike and I reviewed the overall quality of the sales call. But we also shared observations on this guy’s office and the tech he used. We discussed how he dressed, how he communicated with us, the size and type of company he was running, how he ran it…

We didn’t realize it then, but we were creating a customer profile of the people most likely to buy our service.

As sales reps, we tend to focus on describing the target market for our products and services. But keep in mind that there’s also a type of person that you would prefer doing business with. Their lifestyle, preferences, and business attitude plays a role in determining if they are right for your offering.

Describing your typical customer helps you with your prospecting as well as when you ask for referrals.  When you describe your ideal customer, you turn your prospecting efforts into targeted campaigns focused at getting you in front of the right people. You’ll find this more desirable than frantically searching for decision-makers that might be a good fit for your products.

And when you ask for referrals, you can specifically describe the people you want your current customers to send your way.

Your Customer Profile – 4 Ideas to Get You Started

When you begin creating your customer profile, use the following ideas as guidelines:

Describe the type of person that you and your solution can help.

Begin by visualizing yourself in a meeting with your typical customer.  What are they wearing? What do they do in the company?  Where is their office located? What is it like?  How did you get to their office? Approximately how many people do they have reporting to them?  Describe the person that you are having the meeting with as much detail as possible.

List the challenges this person typically faces.

This time, visualize yourself living your customer’s life or walking in their shoes for a day.  List out the kinds of challenges you face daily. Identify the type of vendors you deal with.  Look at some of the customer issues that occur. Remember, “If you can see through John Brown’s eyes, you sell what John Brown buys”.

Identify the benefits this person will get from your employing your solution.

This idea goes back to identifying the gains your customer will get  from employing your solution.  Remember, when your customer employs your solution, it will do more than simply resolve the issue at hand. Your solution will impact other areas of your customer’s life as well as the company environment.  Visualize living in your customer’s shoes after you have implemented your solution. Now noticed how their environment and activities have changed.

Leverage Your Current Customer Base To Build Your Customer Profile

Finally, if you have an established customer base, leverage that asset to build the customer profile. Take some time to contact customers in your database and set up follow-up interviews. Ask them questions about why they bought and the challenges they were facing.  Ask them questions about the impact your solution made on their lives and their business environment.  Do that with 10 to 15 of your best customers to bolster your customer profile.

Leverage Operational Insight from Your Customer Profile

Back when he was the top motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar made a big deal about setting goals. In his seminars, he often included a story of how he could compete, and win, against the best competitive archer in the USA. But first, he would have to blindfolding the archer. Then he would need to spin the archer around a few times so the archer wouldn’t know the direction Ziglar had pointed him. When they heard this, Ziglar’s audience would say, “That’s not fair. How can the guy shoot a target he can’t see?”

And Ziglar would respond, “You raise good question. Here’s a better one. How are you going to hit a target you don’t even have?”

That’s a question you need to ask yourself every morning before you start your sales activities.

So, the next time you develop an email campaign, make a prospecting call, or ask for referrals, review your customer profile. But if you don’t have one, use the above ideas to lay the foundation for the profile to identify your target audience.

You’ll find yourself getting into your sales process much faster.

Good Selling!