"They’re not our profile" he told me.

"Huh?" I thought.

So I asked him, "What does that mean, not our profile?"

And he told me.

He explained that even though this prospect we were talking about was in the market to buy the types of things we sold, they weren’t the type of prospect that usually bought from us.

He gave me a couple of reasons. And in particular he told me how they were in fact the type of business that usually bought from one of our main competitors.

I thought I was pretty smart, having sold for a few years with IBM.

Yet I hadn’t heard people talk like this when I was at IBM.

So we decided not to pursue the prospect we were speaking of because they weren’t our profile, they weren’t likely to buy from us. They were likely to go with our competition.

That was an important lesson for me that I have always used since.

Every business I’ve been in, and every product I’ve sold, I have always sought to determine early on what my ideal customer profile was. Focusing on it significantly raises your close ratio, and keeps you from wasting sales time on loser deals.

I got a number of emails yesterday asking me if endorsing my friend’s success in closing a major contract after getting 40+ No’s wasn’t a contradiction of my philosophy.

I can see how someone might think that.

But no, it is not a contradiction.

There is a time for focus, and a time for persistence.

First you have to know who is best to pursue. You have to know who is most likely to do business with you.

Those then are the prospects that you pursue. Those are the ones you *persist* with.

If you have done your research on a prospect, and you believe that they fit your profile, then you should persist until you make them your customer.

This might take you 4 No’s, 40 No’s, or 400 No’s. Doesn’t matter.

If they’re your profile you keep after them.

Persistence means coming back and touching the prospect again, and again, and again, spaced out over time.

But this doesn’t mean only following up on the few leads that are your profile, and whining that none of them are ready to close.

You’ve got to be smart about your time. You should always be working to find more prospects who are your profile.

When you focus your sales energy wisely, you can get a huge return on your time. And be sure to start listening today to my conversations about how to find the pain that drives people, and how to profile who will buy from you or not. You can be listening just minutes from now with the Persuasive Selling Skills Audio Program.

Sell with Pride,

Shameless Shamus