TALKING SALES 24: “Prospecting for the ideal client”


3 Minute interview by John Smibert.

Dan SymonsIn this interview Dan Symons  made it clear to me that we should identify our ideal client before we begin prospecting.

He suggests we identify the characteristics of our ideal client based on the characteristics of the existing customers we like working with and for whom we can create the most value.

Dan Symons is a business development professional, an author, a sales mentor and coach.


                      See more of the ‘TALKING SALES’ series here

Interview Transcript:

John: Welcome back! John Smibert again, talking with Dan Symons. Dan is a business development professional, an author and a coach in sales – I love some of your work, Dan!

Dan: Thank you so much!

John: We’ve talked about passion last time.

Dan: Yep.

John: And I know you’re also very passionate about prospecting, but doing it the right way.

Dan: Yes.

John: Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about that, because I think we can all learn from some of your experiences, and I think the way you go about prospecting and thinking about it is very valuable. Can you tell me something about it?

Dan: Yeah. To me I think the failing is often people view prospecting as cold calling and starting by picking up the phone, but it really starts with a very deep analysis of what your ideal clients are; who you should be calling.

John: Okay. So, how do you work out who your ideal clients are?

Dan: Well, it’s a combination of a couple of things. Looking at your existing portfolio customers, and looking at which of those ones you really like working with and they really like working with you, and the ones you can add real value to.

John: So, you’re going to actually identify who you should be talking to from a prospecting point of view based on your existing customers and the ones you like talking to.

Dan: That in conjunction with your skillset and the type of products you’re selling, or services. Ultimately what you’re looking to do is develop an understanding of the characteristics, and not necessarily the names, of the type of customers which would be the ideal client for you to work with. The ones that you can add the most value to based on your skillset, based on the product and service what you’ve got behind you, and based on your and their personality styles. Can you work together?

John: So, tell me why?

Dan: Well, ultimately, like a friendship, we tend to do more for those that we think fondly of; in the sales context it’s exactly the same. If we’ve got a connection with people that are our ideal clients – not just on a revenue and product basis, but on a personality and a care basis – suddenly real good things happen in the sales process, because we genuinely care about the outcomes we’re getting for our customers.

John: Okay. In some cases though I might not have a lot of choices about the organisations in my target market.

Dan: Yep.

John: Are you saying then I need to be selective even when I haven’t got a lot of choices?

Dan: No. I think, as with anything, it’s about where you apply your effort. If you would have an hour to prospect, it is far better to direct that to one of your ideal clients than anyone, because it’s the client you’re most likely to get cut-through with, because you genuinely have an empathic connection with them, if you have already identified that they are your ideal client.

John: Okay, so the bottom line is, make sure you really clearly understand your ideal client, and you can do that by understanding your ideal existing customer, and targeting those types of organisations, those types of people based on that.

Dan: Yes. Start with what you want to have first, and then worry about how you’re going to go out and get it, rather than pick up the phone. Understand what type of customer you would love to have tomorrow.

John: Great advice, Dan!

Dan: Thank you!

John: Thank you very much – look forward to the next time we talk!

Dan: Thank you very much!


See more of the ‘TALKING SALES’ series here


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John leads three related organisations, Custell, Strategic Selling Group and Sales Masterminds APAC. These help B2B selling organisations, who recognise the need to transform their sales capability, to respond to the tsunami of change that is starting to wash over us all. He works with people who recognise that to survive they must more strategically support their customer in their buying journey - and understand that they must become specialists in the customer's domain in order to be of value to them. He also helps sales teams build differentiated personal brands and leverage the digital and social worlds to engage to create trust and value.

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