Identifying the Right Customers for Your Business

Identifying the Right Customers for Your Business

Understanding the buyer you’re selling to is just as important as identifying the type of company you’re targeting – if not more so.

By Diana L. Mirakaj

Customer identification is more than just thinking in terms of vertical industries, geographic markets, or business size. It’s about understanding business processes, goals, and objectives; operational needs; and expected outcomes. And it’s also about defining the individuals involved in the purchasing process. Doing so allows you to craft sales and marketing messages that address buyers from start to finish of the buying cycle—from consideration to closing the sale.

Different buyer personas exist in every business organization, and not everyone involved in the decision-making process has the ability to authorize a purchase. That process involves a number of different people and a system of checks and balances, all aimed at protecting an organization from unnecessary or excessive spending, or investment in programs that are ineffective.

The following are common buying personas:

Decision-Maker: A decision-maker is somebody with the authority to make a purchase. This is a person who controls budgets and is responsible for organizational tasks and objectives. Decision-makers exist at all levels of an organization – from owner-operator and executive teams to line-of-business managers, CIOs, and IT managers.

User-Influencer: Users – rank-and-file employees – often don’t have purchasing authority, but they can influence the acquisition of products and services by recommending them – particularly those that yield time and cost savings – to decision-makers. Because users are responsible for the execution of business tasks, their needs and experiences weigh heavily in a final purchasing decision.

Researcher: A researcher – someone charged with researching available options on behalf of decision-makers – is a relatively new class of buyer. The researcher’s role is to bypass the outbound sales process, create short lists of available options, and make recommendations to the decision-maker. Researchers are driven by specifications and costs, and they’re not easily swayed by marketing and sales pitches.

Gatekeeper: A gatekeeper is more of a filter than an influencer. This person’s job is to review proposals, screen candidates, and reject – more often than advance – potential purchases. Gatekeepers come in many forms. Examples include finance departments, human resources staff, and administrative assistants.

Advocate: An advocate – sometimes called a champion or sponsor – is the person or team that promotes your products and services to the influencers and decision-makers. Advocates can be members of your customer’s team or third-party influencers, such as consultants, peers, or professional service providers. Advocates have a lot of influence on decision-makers, but they can’t guarantee a sale. Advocates will actively promote your business, but not to the point of risking damage to their credibility or reputation.

Understanding those personas is just as important as identifying the type of company you’re targeting – if not more so. By identifying the role of the person you’re interacting with, you can adjust your marketing messaging and sales strategies to resonate with that individual and advance the engagement to the decision-making level.

By profiling customers and identifying the buyer of your products and services, you’re able to align your company’s value proposition with a specific segment of the market. Your products are defined by the user, their needs and benefits, and costs. You’re subsequently defined by the market in which you sell, whether a vertical, budget capacity, or specific geography. In defining the customer, you’re able to better focus your attention on the prospects most likely to buy.

Here are some critical questions to ask about your company and products:

  • For what type of customer are your products and services designed? Who’s the user?
  • What need are you addressing with your products and services?
  • How much does your product cost, and who can afford it?
  • Who will get the most benefit/ROI from implementing and using your product?
  • What’s your effective geographic service area? Where are the customers you can support effectively?

By answering those questions, you start to develop a target customer profile that best aligns with your company and provides you with the highest probability of success.

The 2112 Group works with vendors and partners to segment customers by examining buyer types, identifying common attributes, and fine-tuning buyer profiles that embody a customer’s mission, business objectives, and operational needs. Through our customer profiling, 2112 helps identify the customer base that best fits your products and services.

Did You Know... Customer Identification


dianaDiana L. Mirakaj is president and chief operating officer of The 2112 Group. You can follow her on Twitter at @dlenam.