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5 Obvious Signs You’re Targeting the Wrong Prospect

August 13, 2021 2 min read

Inbound sales advocates must be wrong…because you followed all their advice, developed detailed buyer personas, refined your prospect list to specifically target these personas, and set out with the right tools and strategies to close more deals. But prospecting isn’t paying off like you thought it would…which must mean they’re wrong about the whole inbound sales strategy, right?

Actually, if you're following the inbound sales prospecting playbook and not getting the results you'd hoped for, you're probably not targeting the right prospects.

Trust us, inbound sales isn’t a hoax. In fact, 62 percent of sales people who refuse inbound selling strategies miss their quotas. Meanwhile, companies like IBM, who went all in on inbound selling, increased their sales by 400 percent.

Before you call it quits and risk setting your business back (way back), take a moment to consider who it is you’ve been attracting. Here are 5 obvious signs your aim is off:

1. Your target companies aren’t spending enough

If the companies you’re going after don’t seem to have the budget for the product or service you’re selling, something’s off. Take a long hard look at your most profitable current customers. How are they similar to the companies you’re attracting? how are they different? Take what you learn and refine your prospect list. You want to target companies that have an identical profile to your most profitable customers.

2. The prospect can’t answer deep-level questions

Has the conversation between you and your prospect become an awkward, one-way interview where you ask probing questions and they stare blankly ahead, totally unable to provide an answer? Clearly, you aren’t talking to the right person. The inability to answer deep-level questions indicates one of two things:

  • Your product or service doesn’t make sense as the solution to their pain points.
  • Their job title is misleading and they don’t actually have the responsibilities you thought.

In this case, you either need to ask if there’s a better person to speak to (someone with more relevant knowledge), or you need to head back to the drawing board to figure out why this prospect is different from your best customers. Again, take what you learn and use it to refine buyer personas and targeting efforts.

3. The company doesn’t fit one of your target industries

If you are trying to differentiate yourself in just a few verticals, but engage with a prospect in an industry that’s totally outside your wheelhouse, your solution might work. It could also mean that you’re going to need to force-fit it, and that’s likely going to require time, energy and a lot of convincing. Is this prospect really worth all that trouble? Our advice — stick to what you know will be a successful fit.

4. The contact is vague about their future, or not committing to a solution

This could mean several things, so use your best judgment. It could be that they aren’t actually considering your product or service as a potential solution. It could be that they aren’t sure if your product or service is the right solution, hence the unclear signals. More likely, they just aren’t ready for a sales call yet. They are still in research mode, so don’t disregard these prospects too soon. A little lead nurturing may be all you need to bring them around.

5. The pain points you’re trying to resolve don’t exist

In your initial conversation with a prospect, you should find a way to bring up their pain points (the likes of which you discovered while researching in a very inboundy way). If, when you do this, they seem totally unaware of what you’re talking about — you probably have the wrong prospect.

The other possibility for your inbound sales struggle is that you’re doing something to scare off your prospects. If none of these signs ring a bell with you, read on to learn about the many reasons why your prospects could be avoiding you.

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This post was originally published June 28, 2016