Edited excerpt from What Do You Need to Do to Improve Sales? Here’s a Start… by Mark Suster:
Ask yourself whether the person you’re dealing with has a problem that is solved by the solution you offer. If they don’t – you simply won’t sell anything.
That’s why many great sales starts with generating inbound marketing leads. If you create content marketing programs and drive traffic to websites where you can measure how long somebody spends reading your materials or downloading your white papers you’ve at least confirmed some level of interest.
If you have a product, knowing who the “typical buyer” by department or title is helps you greatly because you can quickly get to somebody likely to be familiar with the space in which you’re selling.
If you generate outbound email campaigns to groups of potential buyers you can use SalesLoft or tools like Yesware and ToutApp to track whether people opened your emails, clicked on your links, downloaded your documents, etc.
The other obvious area in determining interested parties is to find referrals from trusted sources. That’s why companies partner with vendors with complementary service offerings.
Let me make it simple: If you can’t identify a problem that a prospect has that you can quantifiably solve you won’t sell anything.
(1) Note the similarities to What problem are you solving? and Focus on the job, not the customer type.
(2) This is the beauty of freemium models. You create the customers’ problem by making them hit the paywall, and your conversion data tells you if the problem is serious enough that customers will pay to solve it.