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Identifying Prospects Customers and Understand their needs

    Identifying Prospects

    Organizations must identify prospective customers and understand their needs and wants to improve the odds of making a sale.


    Outline the sales process, and tactics used to target prospects


    Key Points

    • Personal selling functions as an essential component within a company’s larger integrated marketing communications strategy.
    • The first step in identifying a target market is analyzing whether there is a strong correlation between product benefits and customer needs.
    • Cold-calling, trade shows, direct mailings, product seminars, webinars, and advertisements are some of the promotional tools used to generate new leads.

    Key Terms

    • bottom line: The final balance; the amount of money or profit left after everything has been tallied.
    • unique selling proposition: Any aspect of an object that differentiates it from similar objects.
    • sales pipeline: A visualization of the sales process of a company.

    Identify Prospects

    Personal selling functions as an essential component within a company’s larger integrated marketing communications strategy. Customer sales are the lifeblood of a business, contributing directly to the company’s bottom line. Before closing a sale or launching promotional activities, organizations must first understand the needs, wants, and habits of their target audience. Identifying these prospects or potential customers early in the sales process is key to keeping a company’s sales pipeline full. Generating a steady flow of prospective customers into this sales pipeline builds consistent revenue streams, ensuring longevity for the organization.

    Two men conduct research.

    Sales Presentation: Salespersons conduct significant research on their target markets to better market products and services to prospects.

    The Importance of Sales Prospecting

    Prospecting for customers is the first step in personal selling. Consequently, identifying and maintaining a steady list of prospects is usually a salesperson’s top priority. As a company introduces and markets new products, the number of customers will fluctuate depending on the needs of its target market. It is the salesperson’s job to continually replace these former customers to maintain and increase sales.

    Prospects are usually labeled as sales leads, which can eventually be converted into contacts and opportunities. For sales prospecting to be an effective component of integrated marketing communications, organizations implement sales methodologies to qualify and track the conversion rate of sales leads. These systems are also used to map the different marketing communication touchpoints that help funnel leads into the organization’s sales process.

    Tactics Used to Identify Prospects

    Before an organization begins marketing to prospects, they must conduct extensive research and analysis on their potential market. Ideally, the organization’s salespersons are also working with marketers who are supplying marketing analysis to support sales efforts. Likewise, communications including websites, events, public relations, advertising, and social media are all promotional tools helping to drive prospects towards the organization.

    The marketing and sales teams’ market analysis validates if a strong correlation exists between product benefits and customer needs. This entails finding out customers’ requirements, priorities, and budget. Other data companies use to build customer profiles include psycho-demographic characteristics such as age, sex, profession, personal interests, and buying habits. If the potential market is very large, then organizations must decide whether to target specialized segments to save time and money. Companies that are able to tailor their products or services to a specific niche market can develop a unique selling proposition ( USP ) in that particular market segment. A brand ‘s USP enables it to enter markets where there is less competition and greater potential to build brand equity and recognition. It can also shorten time to sale. The longer companies spend marketing to prospects, the more people and financial resources are spent to close a sale and generate revenue.

    After researching and identifying their target market, organizations use promotional tools including cold-calling, trade shows, direct mailings, product seminars, webinars, and advertisements toward leads generation. Organizations also use these tools to build mailing lists for newsletters and other promotional activities to nurture relationships with prospects and guide them further along the buying process. Organic search engine results and word-of-mouth referrals, particularly through social media and other digital channels, can also be powerful tools for identifying potential customers. Many organizations focus on building a strong web presence using effective search engine optimization, along with both traditional and digital communication channels, to generate new leads.

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