Experts say that a 10-percent reduction in your sales cycle can increase productivity by 25 percent. But there’s one way to get an even better return on your time: a referral to your ideal client. When you receive a referral to someone who matches your ideal client profile, you increase your close rate and decrease the costs involved in making a sale.

More isn’t always better. Many traditionalists will tell you that the key to achieving greater sales is stuffing as many prospects as possible into your sales funnel. Just fill it up and let gravity take care of the rest. Viola!

I say that filling your funnel with lots of leads that will never pan out is just a lot of busywork and wasted time. While I agree that sales velocity is important, I’m a big believer in working smarter, not harder. And I happen to know that it’s possible to generate more customers with fewer, heartier leads.

What really drives sales is getting the right people into the funnel, nurturing those prospects and increasing their velocity throughout the sales process. These right people are your ideal clients.

Quality trumps quantity. Working with your ideal clients dramatically decreases your sales cycle time and therefore increases profits. This is because ideal clients:

  • Spend more
  • Don’t quibble on price
  • Collaborate to achieve results, and
  • Refer you to other ideal clients.

Even better, working with them is actually enjoyable because they value what we offer, communicate well, are forward thinking and reasonable, have a good sense of humor and commit the time, money and resources necessary to make our projects successful.

Perhaps more important, we understand their businesses and the way they buy, and we can deliver exactly what they need to accelerate the sales cycle. Why would you want to clog your sales funnel with anyone else?

Who’s your ideal client? How do you locate your ideal clients? Create a clear, succinct profile of your ideal client so that you will recognize the perfect opportunities when they arise. Keep in mind that the more specific you are, the easier it will be for those in your referral network to send these clients your way.

More business in less time. When you’re referred to your ideal clients:

  • Your sales funnel will be filled with only qualified prospects
  • Your sales cycle time will shrink
  • Your sales costs will decrease, and
  • Your revenue and profits will increase.

Plus, you work only with those clients who meet your ideal client profile. These clients will refer you to others like them, and so on and so on. What an irresistible proposition!

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Joanne Black is a professional sales speaker, sales webinar leader, and author of “No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust” from Warner Business Books. Visit www.nomorecoldcalling.com. © Copyright 2011 Joanne S. Black. All rights reserved.