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Focus on winning big

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The biggest and best prospects in your territory already have someone providing them with what you sell. They’re completely satisfied. (OK, they’re not completely satisfied, but they will tell you that they are.)

Your biggest and best prospects — your dream clients — have had the same relationships for a long time, and they trust their partners. Even if they are a little dissatisfied, your competitor is the “devil they know.” And that’s usually enough to keep them from making a change. That is why they refuse your requests for a meeting.

Think about your biggest and best customers. They feel the same way about you and your company. You’re not losing your best clients anytime soon, and neither are your competitors.

Too little focus on known targets. It’s easy to believe that it’s a waste of time to call on clients who are known to have relationships with your competitors. They resist your attempts to meet with them. And because they tell you that they’re not dissatisfied, you don’t believe there’s an opportunity. Instead, you shift your focus downward, calling on clients who aren’t your real targets. You make poor tradeoffs.

  • You trade receptivity for a real opportunity.
  • You trade an easier-to-gain commitment for the difficult-to-gain commitment that will eventually lead to success.
  • And you trade a pipeline with some activity for a pipeline that will eventually result in real growth.

These aren’t good trades. It may feel like you’re making progress by calling on receptive prospects, but it isn’t progress to call on clients who cannot benefit from, don’t appreciate or won’t pay for the value you create. Although you may have appointments on your calendar, you’re still wasting time with a haphazard and unfocused approach.

Trade up instead. The sooner you start pursuing your dream clients, the sooner you win them. You never close any opportunity you don’t first open. You need a deliberate, thoughtful, aggressive and persistent campaign to create opportunities inside your target client accounts.

This doesn’t mean you can’t hit some singles and doubles on your way. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t smaller, very good clients you should also try to win. But you need to focus first on the right targets, the clients for whom you can create breathtaking, jaw-dropping, earth-shattering value.

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S. Anthony Iannarino is the managing director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company, and an adjunct faculty member at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership. For more information, go


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