Identifying &  Qualifying Your Target Market Blog Feature
Dan Fisher

By: Dan Fisher on December 5th, 2014

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Identifying &  Qualifying Your Target Market

leadership | Prospecting | lead nurturing


Can you describe to me your dream customer? Tell me about the unique characteristics of this “dream” Question_Markcustomer.  Can you describe to me the types of customers that have been the most profitable?  Which customers are the most enjoyable to work with?  What types of problems have you consistently had success in solving for your customers in the past? If you’re struggling to come up with clear and concise answers to these questions then you do not have a clearly defined target market and that means you have no means for properly qualifying your accounts.

Having no clearly defined  target market is the equivalent of going to the shooting range with no target; shooting baskets with no hoop, playing darts in the dark….you get my drift. Having a clearly defined target market including the qualifying questions your IT staffing sales reps are suppose to ask to qualify accounts should be a part of your sales strategy.

Now if you are struggling with this, the good news is you’re not alone.  I see it almost everywhere I go.  It goes something like this….

After sitting through the morning meeting Jimmy the sales rep goes back to his desk to begin his day. After Jimmy spends 10 minutes reviewing email he opens up LinkedIn and his CRM/ATS and says to himself “who should I call on today?”  And this is where the paralysis by analysis begins.  Jimmy says to himself “should I call this account or that account?”  “Should I try calling the account I called on earlier in the week?  “Nobody returned my calls so probably not.”  This anguish goes on and on. The challenge Jimmy struggles with is he has to make a serious investment of his time, energy with an unknown return on that investment. In short, he doesn't know if any business will come out of it.

My point is IT staffing sales reps really agonize over which accounts to call on and how much time to invest in an account before walking away.  (Sales managers, trust me, go sit with your reps for a few hours).  The challenge is there are tons-too many in fact-of companies to choose from.  If it’s not clear to the sales rep what exactly it is they’re looking for in a prospect account because their target market has not been clearly defined nor have they been given the proper account qualifying questions.  For these reasons prospecting for new business becomes extremely frustrating to the point of paralyzing.  The problem unfortunately stems from a lack of a sales process and/or poor sales management.

Fast forward this scenario 6 months and Dick the sales manager says “gee, Jimmy has been here for 6 months and has nothing to really show for himself.  Who are his prospects and where is his revenue going to come from?”   Jimmy has no pipeline because he has no sales process to follow nor has he been given any direction on what his target market is (other than “any company with an IT department).  Jimmy doesn’t know what he is trying to kill.  So what does Jimmy do?  Jimmy goes to and other job boards and seeks out pre-defined, oversaturated job postings. What a novel idea!  I think we all know how that story ends.  Jimmy finds himself in the HR department. To see a day in the life of an IT staffing sales rep take a look at the video below.




In his classic book, Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey Moore points out that companies who try to be all things to all people have significantly higher costs, never really establish a strong customer base from which to grow and often disappear before achieving profitable growth.  This sounds incredibility similar to the IT staffing industry.  Most IT staffing firms and IT staffing sales reps take the shotgun approach to sales prospecting by simply going after any and all job orders.  In other words, they try to be all things to all people and never establish a niche or core competency.  Does your firm have a core competency?  How often does your firm say “no” to a new job order?  These are the companies that never develop a candidate pipeline and continue to rely on job boards. As a result these companies struggle to achieve consistent growth. Why is that?  The sales team is purely focused on chasing job orders rather than building a scalable and sustainable book of business.  To do the latter requires a having a clearly defined target market and go to market strategy.

Selling today is about selling where you will have the greatest likelihood for success. It’s not about calling on 200
different accounts. It’s about calling on accounts that meet your pre-defined qualification parameters.  That’s right; your prospects need to qualify for your business! Not the other way around. This  is why we built the account qualification scorecard into Quota King. The tool actually tells the IT staffing sales rep if the account is worth pursuing. It tells the rep if the account meets the parameters for their target market. 

If you’re a sales manager or sales leader, are you certain that your sales reps understand who your target market is?  Can your sales reps differentiate between a high value prospect and a low value prospect?  More importantly, can they do it after speaking with just a handful of people in the account or does it take them 3-6 months before they realize they need to walk away from the account (or that they should have never walked away from that cash cow last quarter)?  Providing your sales team with a clearly defined target market could take weeks and in many cases months off of your sales cycle.  Think about the impact that would have on both your top line and bottom line revenue!

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About Dan Fisher

Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.

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