Ditch Your Sales Niche

Guest post by Joanne S. Black

It used to be that as a salesperson, you knew you were on your game if you targeted the holy grail of specific markets: The ultra-affluent, latest-and-greatest tech companies, financial services or professional-services firms. When you read that certain markets were hiring, and the Street was talking about them, everyone started targeting these firms. Suddenly, you weren’t special anymore.

Now, if you want to keep growing your sales, you must branch out into less-saturated, less-familiar territory.

FAMILIARITY BREEDS COMPLACENCY

Many salespeople don’t want to move beyond their familiar customer pool. It’s comfortable, easy and accessible. It’s where they started, where they’ve built a name for themselves and what they know. But over time, it gets harder to pull success from these territories. The familiar market becomes less valuable, less profitable, less … well, less of everything, except comfortable. And where’s the monetary value in that?

It’s true: salespeople love long-standing, familiar customers: They spend money, are loyal, ask good questions, provide the resources needed to implement solutions and seem to really need you. But if you over-rely on these customers, you lose out on other opportunities and watch our sales pipelines dry up.

GET UNCOMFORTABLE, GET SUCCESSFUL

It’s time to step out of our comfort zones and explore new markets. I’m not suggesting leaving current clients. You need to pay attention to them, stay in touch, remember birthdays and anniversaries, send useful information, and—of course—ask for referrals to people just like them. But there are only two ways to get more business: Do more business with existing customers or find new customers. Because existing customers can only buy so much, you need to expand into new areas.

THE GAME HAS CHANGED

Want to sell more? Change your game. Ditch the sales niche. It’s no longer about what you target, because everyone else is in the same pool. It’s time to reassess your market niche. Here’s a list of questions to help you determine where to start:

  • Which companies and industries are thriving? Which ones are sinking?
  • Where is your expertise? And how can you turn that expertise into new opportunities?
  • Which clients make you the most money?
  • Which clients do you most enjoy working with?
  • What’s missing for your clients? (If you don’t know, ask. The landscape you currently focus on may no longer exist.)
  • What can you deliver that no one else has? (Consider thinking beyond this moment and identify areas of need that will surface in the next six to 12 months. You’ll be a bit of a futurist, but you’ll be way out in front of everyone else.)

Go ahead: Ditch your niche and start tapping into all those opportunities you’ve been missing out on. You’ll become the game-changer who wins.

Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling—the only business-development strategy proven to convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time. As the founder of No More Cold Calling, Joanne helps salespeople, sales teams and business owners build their referral networks, attract more business, decrease operating costs and ace out the competition. A captivating speaker and innovative seminar leader, Joanne is a member of the National Speakers Association and author of NO MORE COLD CALLING™: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust. To learn more, visit www.nomorecoldcalling.com, email joanne@nomorecoldcalling.com or call 415-461-8763.