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"Instant Recognition Identifies Unqualified Prospects Instantly"


In many of my previous roles, the sales folks had a boiler room mentality. It was all about how many calls you made in a day to find a few "possible" prospects. The working assumption was that you'd find a few golden nuggets each day. Even when they applied a lot of data mining principles to their call list and found "qualified" prospects, the end result didn't change that much. It was especially painful with larger sales that had longer sales cycles. Too often a lot of time, money and resources were wasted because the prospect wasn't really a prospect.


That's why segmentation, the concept of grouping people with similar demographics and psychographics together, has become a critical component in sales and marketing. The combination of demographic and psychographic information can provide valuable insights into your best prospect and customers. It also allows you to find more like them.

Business demographics looks at characteristics of people that include purchasing trends, organizational authority and preference frequencies, among other factors. Frankly, demographics are helpful but demographics alone leave a lot to be desired, especially in qualifying prospects.


I was determined to break legacy beliefs. I was determined to reduce the wasted time and resources on prospects who were really good at fooling us - making us believe they really were qualified and would buy from us. I was confident we could develop a way to almost instantly "size-up" a prospect. After all, that's what any really seasoned salesperson does. They have that intuitive feeling about a prospect. And they have the smarts and guts to move-on even if all the demographics look right.


I knew psychographics could unlock a huge potential in both sales and marketing. Business psychographics delves deeper into customers' lifestyles and behaviors, including their interests and values. The information you glean from a journey into your target audience's brain is often key to your sales and marketing efforts, particularly the positioning of your product or services. It includes the audience's activities, interests, and opinions. You have to work through behavioral factors, economic factors, and even interpersonal factors to get to the root of purchasing behavior.


The first psychographics study I completed got us on an incredible track to instantly recognize prospects for their potential value despite what their job title and their RFPs might imply. After completing hundreds of interviews with prospects, we were able to identify what types of prospects were likely to move forward with a purchase. We identified what types of prospects were giving us the run around. We also identified a few other groups between those two ends.


The study constructed user personas based on psychographics. In most cases, personas are synthesized from a series of ethnographic interviews with real people, then captured in 1-2 page descriptions that include behavior patterns, goals, skills, attitudes, and environment, with a few fictional personal details to bring the persona to life. For each product/service, or sometimes for each set of tools within a product/service, there is a small set of personas, one of which is the primary focus in determining the prospect's likely purchasing decisions.


It's easy to assemble a set of user characteristics and call it a persona, but it's not so easy to create personas that are truly effective sales and marketing tools. Here are some tips from persona gurus to help you perfect them:


(1) Personas represent behavior patterns, not job descriptions;
(2) Keep your persona set small;
(3) Your marketing and sales targets may not be your design targets; and
(4) Add life to the personas, but remember they're design tools first.


The end result was that the psychographics study provided us with valuable tools to "size-up" prospects. Salespeople were then able to place each prospect into a group of five different types of prospects based almost entirely on their behavior. In fact, each group had themes associated with it that identified what the prospects in that group would likely say. It was almost surreal to simply wait until the prospect would eventually echo a phrase associated with their group. Our study quickly became coined "instant recognition because it identified unqualified prospects instantly!