Why Are You Ignoring The Biggest Part of Your Target Market? – Sales eXchange 1915

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca


There seems to be wide agreement that at any given time, only a small percentage of your target market is Actively Looking for what your are selling, estimates seem to be about 15%.  A similar percentage, fall into a group I call Passively Looking, leaving about 70% of the target group is removed from the market, not looking, or working hard to look the other way, the Status Quo.  Many pundits will tell you to stay away from the 70%, erroneously telling to avoid these apparently entrenched potential buyers, and spend your time with the other two groups.

Sure that is easier prey, but at the same time it is prey that is surrounded and stalked by every other sales person looking for an easy kill.  Although you have to ask why it is easy, well, not only are these Passive and Active buyers, self declared, but they have been engaged gathering information, (if not knowledge).  One bit of information they have is that most leading products’ feature overlap as much as 80% – 90%, leaving sellers a small and narrow platform to succeed from, leaving little more than price to lean on.  Just like on the savannah, the weakest go first, the sale goes to the lowest price.

Time to be contrarian, stop chasing the obvious, and sell to those who may not be in the market, but still have objectives and opportunities they want to achieve in their business.  The conventional wisdom is that you spend no time with the Status Quo, as one pundit insists:

“They are happy, not looking, satisfied with things as they are”.

The notion that they are satisfied, does not limit their desire to improve their situation, or that they are not open to better ideas.  Sadly that view makes one a victim of selective perception, see what you want to see, in this case a sale that will require effort and skill, rather than the easy fray of the self-declared buyer.  Believing that business people and business owners would ignore a means of improving or doing things better is just naive and dangerous; if you are reading this and are a business owner or executive – would you ignore something that could improve things even as little as 5%?

The reality, is that satisfaction is a poor measure of selling opportunities, more and more buyer are looking at how they can move forward rather than why they should stay where they are, especially when where they are is not optimal to their business now or moving forward.  It is clear that many sellers are leaving money on the table using satisfaction as a threshold for change, for example, according to Bell & Patterson, in their “Customer Loyalty Guaranteed’, they show that “75% of customers who leave or switch vendors for a competitor, when asked, say they were ‘satisfied or completely satisfied’ with the vendor they left, at the time they switched.”

It is clear that those in the Status Quo are more likely :

“Buyers who have yet to be presented with, or perceive the right solution required to achieve their objectives or market opportunities.”

Getting to those buyers involves work, you need to use efforts and ideas that, not apps and tools.  This may not be new, fresh, simple or specific economy dependent.  It involves proactively engaging with buyers based on their current objectives, and presenting innovative thinking.  Not necessarily products or solutions, again with 80% – 90% overlap, success comes down to how they can use the product to impact their business, their objectives, their opportunities.

Stop following the crowd, and track your target market, the big market.  Ditch the product, and embrace their objectives, engage on that level and the product follows, more importantly, you have an unhurried sales cycle, as there is no crowd nipping at your heals, and you have a client that buys and pays full price for value, not negotiating on price.

You can start by reading Mine The GAP, and go from there; come back next Monday to see how you can shock the process forward with the Status Quo.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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  1. Marc Zazeela


    I was part of a customer engagement group that concluded “satisfied” customers were always at risk. They were neither loyal nor disloyal. All they needed was a push in the right direction and they would leave a long time supplier in an instant.

    As you said, all sales people are chasing the proverbial low hanging fruit.


    • Tibor Shanto

      Hi Marc,

      Not only lower hanging, but lower yielding.
      Thanks for the comment,

  2. Stephen Lahey

    Great advice. Reminds me of a classic baseball quote. When somebody asked “Wee Willie” Keeler how he hit the ball so well, he answered, “I hit it where they ain’t.”

    • Tibor Shanto


      I like the analogy.

      Thanks for the feedback,


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