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Sales Management Therapy: Profile Your Prospects

by Tina Cherpes, Featured Contributor

Behavior Therapy #26

“I just don’t get it,” Mary’s demeanor was sullen, “all I really want in life is just to be happy.”  Her sister had heard it all before and on this particular morning as she was being serenaded by two screaming kids in the background, was just a tad bit shy of compassion. “What is it that would make you happy Mary? Tell me, please, cause I’d really like to know.” Caught off guard by her sister’s uncharacteristic directness, Mary shifted her gaze toward the floor, “I don’t know”.  Seemingly pushed past her breaking point, Mary’s sister abruptly began making her way toward the source of the adjacent sibling uproar and as if struck by an inspirational flash, stopped and turned to share a parting shot, “Well if you don’t know what you’re looking for Mary, how in the world are you ever going to find it?”.

thThere is little debate about the primary function of the human brain; it’s designed to protect us and keep us alive – perpetually searching out threats to our safety and instinctively guiding us out of harm’s way. Our brains are wired for survival – not happiness. It comes then, as little surprise that it’s significantly easier for many of us to instantly create and share a list of the things we don’t want (the things we’d rather avoid) than it is to create a list of the things we do want.

The first phase of the universal sales cycle is called Prospecting and it’s during this phase where we have an opportunity to invest our time and energy (upfront) defining the specific list of attributes our most desirable prospects possess. This qualification process is called Prospect Profiling and its primary function is to help us qualify and quantify the characteristics and behaviors of our top prospects.  And, armed with a defined list of what we want and what’s important to us, we’re significantly more likely to be successful in our search.

When creating a Prospect Profile there are a few fundamentals to consider and Selection Criteria and Value Activities are two of the most basic. Selection Criteria includes both soft and hard characteristics and refers to what our prospects are, not what they do.  In the business arena, examples of soft selection criteria could be loyalty, professionalism, and strategic alignment. Hard selection criteria include more tangible characteristics such as number of locations, sales volume, and complementary and/or competing product lines.

Value Activities are the things our top prospects do. In the personal arena (dating and/or mating) we may define the Value Activities of our top prospects as gainfully employed, politically active, and avid kick-ball player.

Whether we’re prospecting for the ideal job, spouse, or client when we qualify our top prospects based on defined Selection Criteria and Value Activities, our Prospecting Profile becomes a dynamic tool that can make our efforts much more targeted and effective.  And, when we know exactly what we’re looking for, it’s a heck of a lot easier to find.


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