The Sales Simplicity Series: How Not To Spray and Pray

Sales target

This is the second of three posts in the Sales Simplicity Series which teaches simple sales strategy for business. Read the first post here.

Your business is flourishing. You have a loyal customer base of raging fans, sales are up, the money is flowing, and your business is steadily growing.

That’s the business owner’s dream, isn’t it?

But that’s not what’s happening just yet, is it? At least not to the extent that you’d like.

After all, we all want to improve. We want today’s results to be better than yesterday’s – and we want tomorrow’s results to be better than today’s.

But it doesn’t always go that way. A lot of businesses struggle to grow and bring on new customers. If that describes you, then you need to know that there’s something you can do to about it.

But first, let me ask you a question…

If you had to name one factor in your market that, more than any other, inhibits your ability to sell more and grow… what would it be?

Seriously take a moment and think of your answer.


It’s Not What You Think

If you really took the time to come up with an answer (and I hope you did), I would wager that you, like most people, probably answered with something related to a high level of competition.

After all, it’s hard to name a business that isn’t faced with serious competition, right? Plus, it just makes sense that the number one thing that stands in the way of you selling more should be the fact that your prospect has many other choices when it comes to getting what they want or solving their problem.

But what if I told you that competition is not the problem?

(By the way… that is what I’m telling you.)


To Broadcast or Engage – That Is the Question

The real reason you’re not selling or growing more comes with some good news and some bad news. The good news is that it’s something you have complete control over – and therefore can change pretty easily. The bad news is that the real problem might be within you. Specifically, it could be the way you look at your business or your market.

Switching from broadcasting to engagement will allow you to save time, money, and no small amount of frustration.

So what is that problem? The real problem is targeting.

When it comes to sales and marketing, most businesses do what I call spray and pray.

That means they spray their messaging out to the world and hope it sticks with a certain number of people. And after they hope it sticks with a certain number, they have to pray that whatever that certain number of people is – that it’s enough to sustain their business.

That’s no way to do business. At least it’s no way to do business successfully. Especially if you’re in an already crowded market space.

It’s much faster, more cost-efficient, and less maddening to do the work and get to know your potential customer base intimately – and then specifically target them with messaging that will be meaningful and useful to them. That’s called target marketing.

The primary difference between the two is focus.


Getting To Know the Right People

The questions you really need to ask yourself are: Who are you as a business and who are the right target customers for you?

I know. As simple as those questions are, they’re tough to answer. It would be great if someone could just hand you the answer in a sealed envelope like on the Academy Awards – but that’s not the way this works.

You’re the only one who can answer those questions, and doing so will take time and effort.

So while no one but you can solve this puzzle, the first steps toward figuring it out are actually pretty easy. It all begins with focus.


Five Tips for Focused Sales and Marketing

Here are five tips that you can use to begin targeting the right potential customers for you.

1: Adjust Your Focus
This simply means that you change the way you look at your targets. Start thinking about personally engaging specific groups of people with specific messages instead of broadcasting generically to the world. Your goal should be to attract only the people who will connect deeply with you and your business. You don’t need lukewarm well-wishers. You’re looking for raging fans.

2: Grow Thick Skin
When you begin focusing in on the right prospects and quit trying to please everyone, guess what happens? Some people aren’t going to like you, your business, or your products. No matter how nice you are or how stellar your work is, someone isn’t going to like it. And that’s fine.

I’ve always said that if you went to the mall and started handing out $100 bills, someone would be mad about it. Accept that you’ll never please everyone and you’re well on your way to pleasing the right ones.

3: Just Like In School: Don’t Copy
Be careful that you don’t (even unintentionally) become a knock-off of someone else in your market. Pay attention to your competition, learn what you can from their successes – but be absolutely pig-headed about not copying their moves.

Which would you be more likely to pay top dollar to see:

  • Aerosmith or an Aerosmith tribute band?
  • The original Mona Lisa or a copy of the Mona Lisa painted last year by some guy named Gus?

Copies are usually obvious – and are always less interesting than something original. If you do what everyone else does and you’ll be lost in a sea of sameness. Do something different and you stand out in a crowd and create a much more productive sales environment.

4: Be Loud and Proud
Around here, we call it authentic. You could also call it genuine or real. But whatever it is that makes you who you are – whatever makes your company and your offerings unique and different… that’s what makes you interesting. Don’t gloss over those things. Accentuate them. Quirks and all.

Unique is memorable. Same is forgettable. Which would you rather to be?

5: Market and Sell To Your Best Customer
Who is your most loyal customer or follower right now? I mean who really gets you and responds well to everything you put out into the world? That’s the person who you should use as a mental avatar when you’re creating new products, services, or messaging.

Create offerings for and market to your one perfect customer. The odds are that the things that attracted that one perfect customer to you are the same types of things that will attract similar customers to you in the future.

Bonus: Fish In a Barrel
Go where your prospects like to be. Ok, so this is common sense. But it’s also something most businesses drop the ball on.

Once you’ve defined your target customers, do some research and find out where they congregate. What do they read? What websites and forums do they frequent? Where do they shop? When you know those things, selling becomes much easier. For instance…

Mailing coupons for baby formula to a nursing home or a monastery isn’t an efficient use of time, money, or resources. But putting those same coupons in the hands of a birthing coach or an OBGYN is brilliant.

Make a list of places your target customers tend to be and you will have no shortage of ideas about how to market to them. In fact, when you understand who your targets are and where they tend to be, it becomes downright obvious.


Be A Discriminating Salesperson

People who don’t understand sales think that it’s a “take whatever you can get from whoever is willing to give it to you” type of proposition. That couldn’t be more off track. One-time sales won’t sustain your business. Raging fans who come back to you time and time again will.

Put these five tips into action and start targeting the right prospects. Over time you’ll see the difference in your bottom line.


Your Turn…
In the comments, tell me who your target customer is, where they tend to hang out, and what you’ve done to reach them.


Next Up: The Only Way To Sell

In the next post in this series – you’ll learn about the most powerful way that anyone – even a non-salesperson can skyrockets sales. In the meantime, if I can be of assistance to you with your sales or marketing efforts, please feel free to contact me.


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The Sales Simplicity Series: How Not To Spray and Pray

About Gary Korisko

Gary is a battle-tested sales and marketing pro, copywriter, coach, and business strategist who teaches how to create worthwhile work on Reboot Authentic. Connect with Gary on Google+ and Twitter.

11 Replies

  1. Jim Bessey

    Let me share my scenario with you, Gary. See what you think?

    My site offers help and encouragement for writers, especially novelists. I found what appeared to be an excellent “hang out” on Facebook, a group with over 2000 members called Writers Helping Writers. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

    Well, now my inbox is filled every day with new posts from other writers begging for readers. “Read my sample chapter!” “My new book is a sexy vampire thriller…” and so on. I’m ready to pull the plug on this one.

    If “Writers Helping Writers” isn’t the right place to find writers who need help, what should I look for? Forums? What sort of search would you recommend?

    1. GREAT question, Jim. And a perfect one for this topic. This may turn into a back and forth here in the comments if you don’t mind… but I think it will be interesting to everyone.

      Plus – maybe others have suggestions for you, too.

      So my first observation based on what you shared is that this particular group is named wrong. It sounds like it should be “Writers promoting their own work to other writers for some reason.”

      A *PERFECT* example of broadcasting instead of targeting. From what you said, it’s a bunch of people blasting their message out hoping somehow somewhere “the right” person will see it. Spray and pray 🙂 Clearly not a targeted effort, right?

      So titles aside – the behavior you shared tells me this probably isn’t a group for you.

      Before I suggest alternatives… let me ask you a few questions…

      You said your site offers “help and encouragement for writers.” What kind of help and encouragement? Help could be editing, structure, tips on how to get published, etc. I know it’s a nit-picky question, but that’s how specific you need to be.

      What exact types of help do you (or want to) offer?

      1. Jim Bessey

        The encouragement part is easy, Gary: My site hosts monthly writing (and related, like Editing) contests. This gives my readers a chance for friendly competition and some interaction.

        As for Help, my aims are fairly specific. I’m an experienced editor. Not a novelist with books to plug. I don’t know Jack about Publishing, though I do know a few small-house publishers who can offer their own advice.

        The help I can offer concerns self-editing and setting goals for more complete copy-editing. On the site we talk about (and hold contests concerning) basic proofreading, how to begin a novel, how to handle character development and point of view, balancing dialogue and description, managing subplots, and more.

        Some of it is nuts and bolts, and some opinion or finesse. I don’t do book covers or reviews; but I do love interviewing emerging authors. I can’t help much with ebook formatting, but I can help with chapter order and presentation. Stuff like that.

        Back to you (and thanks!)

        1. Ahhh…

          So editing, structure, order, presentation, and proofreading content.

          It sounds to me like the people who would need your experience and advice the most would be people who aren’t comfortable with those (what I assume are) basic, foundational skills just yet. And to me those would be beginning, emerging, or developing writers. You might even consider “young” or “aspiring” as a target.

          Have you considered targeting those groups specifically? It seems to me those types would be more likely to be open to (even enthusiastic about) help and encouragement more than just “writers” in general.

          For instance, If I opened a site for men over 35 who love to camp in the NE United States, I bet I’d get *your* attention more than if I just started another general camping site, right? Specific is better 🙂

          1. Jim Bessey

            Good bet on that camping site, Gary!

            Your adjectives are excellent, too. “Aspiring” or developing writers make up the majority of my target audience. Interestingly, it’s not the *young* writers I hope to help as much as enthusiastic mid-lifers who feel the clock ticking. Many of those I’ve met are earning pennies writing freelance content while their hearts are invested in novels-in-progress.

            At this point, I haven’t yet found any one group on FB that seems appropriate. Many of my subscribers are regular FB posters, though. Do you have suggestions about how I might find more writers like the ones who’ve already joined the site?

          2. Jim:

            Facebook is only one avenue. There are all kinds of online groups for aspiring writers. My suggestion would be to go to Google and search for aspiring writers… and then for any synonym you can fins for aspiring. Beginning, emerging, developing, etc.

            Try it. I bet you can find quite a bit!

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