Imperfect customer profile. Which customers refuse and why it is vital

Original author: Steli Efti
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Imagine this situation: you are the founder of a very young SaaS company, you are trying to find the first potential customers and interest them, and suddenly a huge corporation appears in front of you and starts waving your money. They found you and want to buy what you sell.

But hey. You do not develop tools for such companies. And damn it, they never even worked with corporate clients . And money beckons: you only have to lend a hand - and they are yours.

What to do?

The majority in this case chooses money - and this is one of the biggest mistakes that can only be made.

Taking money from the wrong customers is a death sentence for the company . And I should have understood that.

Translated to Alconost

How Google and Oracle nearly ruined my startup


In 2007, one of Google’s senior executives became interested in the startup I was working on. We knew that our product was not developed for corporate clients, but we didn’t want to miss such a big jackpot - so we took the money. Over the next few weeks, we ran tests with customers, including Oracle and Intuit.

It seemed like a gold mine: we started selling our product to the largest world companies, and it did not seem that we would have problems with them. They did not cease to repeat that they did not need any special attitude or changes in our product.

But that was not true.

A year later, we were left with nothing . Our product was not designed for such large companies, therefore, of course, they had requests that we could not satisfy. We sold the product to an imperfect customer, and it almost ruined us.

You need to look for money without losing your head


Especially at the beginning of the way when it is difficult to refuse new customers. But there is no amount that can compensate for the choice of the wrong customers.

If your product is bought by an imperfect customer (imperfect in the sense that it will not benefit from using the product), it can destroy your business:

  • There will be a lot of unnecessary fuss, and those. support overwhelmed with applications.
  • You will be bombarded with requests to add new features and even try to influence the product development plan by sending it to where you do not need to.
  • Due to constant complaints, the mood and culture of the team will deteriorate.

Such a client will inevitably leave you. But the worst part is that he finally slams the door loudly: he talks about your bad experience on Twitter, writes on your blog what a terrible product you have and the like.

Before moving on, I repeat once again: money from the wrong customers can destroy the company and brand.



How to learn to accurately recognize imperfect customers


To understand which clients are imperfect for you, you need to clearly distinguish between the three types of clients you encounter:

  1. Ideal customers are those for whom you developed your product and whose needs you know in great detail.
  2. Additional customers are those to whom you will sell the product, earning a little from this, but not focusing all your efforts on their needs.
  3. Imperfect clients are those to whom you do not want to sell your solution and who should be strongly discouraged from buying it from you.

We at Close.io understood from the very beginning that we work for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). These are our ideal customers, and we knew that our product would be extremely useful for them.

Our additional clients are freelancers and individual users. We did not develop our solution for them, but we did not try to dissuade such customers from buying.

Finally, our imperfect clients are corporate enterprises and government agencies. Our tools are not designed for such clients and their needs, and we knew that they would not benefit from us.

We understood that we should refuse such clients, no matter how huge amounts we were offered: “Our tools are not for you, and we do not need your money. If you continue to insist, they will treat you like SMEs, and as a result of your organization this will do nothing but harm. ”

Imperfect client profile for team


Having decided on who the imperfect client is for you, you need to convey this knowledge to the team. You should have a one-page cheat sheet about the ideal customer - and the same for non-ideal customers.

How concise it will be - you decide. The main thing is that the meaning is:
«Вот это — клиенты, которым мы не хотим продавать свой продукт. Они не подходят для нашего бизнеса, и мы не будем им полезны. От них нужно отказываться во что бы то ни стало».

If you manage to put it so clearly into the heads of your team - especially sales and marketing specialists - they will be able to focus on a more specific goal and will work much faster and more efficiently.

Imperfectly denied customers - great ad


Like this? How can rejecting customers attract other customers?

Behind this is a beautiful causation. You tell a potential customer:
«Судя по тому, что вы мне описали, наше решение вам не подходит».

People are not used to hearing rejection when they want to buy something. They will argue with you, they will try to convince you. But you will be adamant.

Because your failed client will remember such sincerity and directness forever.

And therefore, they will tell you about others - including the right customers. After all, when you explained to an imperfect client why he is not suitable for you, you also talked about who the ideal client is for you. And since trust has already been established between you, just those who you need will be told about you in all possible ways.

Cutting off imperfect customers at the marketing stage will save you from unnecessary noise in the sales funnel


Knowing who imperfect customers are for you, you can put a message in the marketing campaign that will push them away in advance - and your sales funnel will not be clogged with messages from them.

I will give an example. Let's say we come up with an advertisement for Close.io. One could write like this:
«Лучшая в мире CRM для дистанционных продаж».

(Such advertising can lead a wide variety of potential customers.)
But we will write this:
«Лучшая CRM для дистанционных продаж в сфере малого и среднего бизнеса».

The message for corporations and larger companies is obvious: "You are not here . " So we get rid of unnecessary customers.

But what if clients with insufficient budgets and even those who are looking for a free tool come to us? Then we write like this:
«Лучшая CRM для дистанционных продаж. Всего 65$ в месяц».

Now those who are looking for a free tool will be clipped: they will see that your solution is not for them.

Such restrictive filters prevent imperfect customers from falling into the funnel and making noise. But to do this, you need to know exactly which customers you do not need.

And if I do not know which clients are ideal for me and which are not?


If you are at the very beginning of the journey, it is quite natural not to know who the ideal client is for you. You may even have great demand from customers you did not expect. This is normal. In the field of sales, it is important to be able to listen and learn.

Take a look at the potential customers who are contacting you and find out:

  • Why did they turn to you?
  • How did they find you?
  • What alternatives do they have?
  • What problematic question drove them to seek a solution like yours?
  • How big is their budget?
  • How do they make a decision?

If you ask these questions 20-30 times and find something in common in the answers, you will have a good clue.

Do not sell your product to everyone. Take your time, listen and learn from the examples of your imperfect clients. The difference between the rapid movement to success and sliding into the abyss - in the right work with the right customers.

About the translator
Translation of the article was done in Alconost.

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