How to Prospect Like You Mean It – Using Target Profiles

How to Prospect Like You Mean It with Target ProfilesCan you quickly describe your target prospects in less than 50 words? So a new rep would know exactly who to sell and where – today?

Target prospects are the ones you want today – land them and you’re made.  Pursue your other prospects later this year, because target prospects are for the here and now: so  go for them first.

However, target prospects are rarely defined with enough gravitational pull to draw you to them. They’re often sloppy descriptions, such as “Fortune 2000 manufacturing firms” and left at that.

As a result, you end up considering lots of prospects – and without a guide, it all looks the same – which can freeze you with inaction, uncertain where to start.

Targets need to pull you in, even when you’re spilling coffee on yourself Monday morning at your desk.

An energizing target profile does that. It gets you moving quickly, doing the effective things you need done now. It gives you an immediate focus, and helps you over prospecting hurdles, such as who to contact and how, what to say, when and where.

Prospect Targeting: The Ideal Profile

The ideal target profile is a lot like poetry: it has to say volumes in very few words, be memorable, and easily articulated.

A target profile must identify the:

  1. Buyer’s industry / vertical market
  2. Size of the buyer’s firm and/or sales opportunity
  3. Buyer’s title as point of contact
  4. Driving business need and/or buyer’s emotional motivation

Here’s an example of a target profile for a global litigation support firm. Their hypothetical ideal target prospect is defined as:

“Chief legal counsel of Global 100 food and beverage firms, with offices in New York City, and business in Brazil, Russia, India, or China (BRIC ), and under U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation for the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).”

This is a mouthful (could’ve shortened it with abbreviations) but it fulfills the ideal profile with:

  1. Buyer’s industry – – – > food and beverage firms
  2. Size of the buyer’s firm – – – > Global 100
  3. Buyer’s titles – – – > Chief legal counsel
  4. Driving business need – – – > under FCPA investigations

This example even spells out which city to find these target prospects in (New York City) and passes the use test in that you could give this profile to that new sales rep and they’d know:

  • Who in the prospect organization to contact
  • Where to find them
  • Why the prospect needs their services

And with a little effort, the new rep could also uncover where those prospective buyers hang out: online and in-person, and reach out to them there.

Reality Check – The Hard Part

Target profiles, to be meaningful, need the business/emotional driver clearly defined.

The easy part is to define it.

In our example above, any firm being investigated by the DOJ will have plenty of motivation to alleviate their pain – just hire us.

The hard part is to apply that part of the profile to prospects. In our example, how would you find out who the DOJ was investigating?

I don’t have an answer for that right now, but if I dig deeper, hopefully I’ll find it.

If not, I’ll uncover some other business/emotional driver – one that I can add to the target profile and use to filter prospects.

2-Step Process to deal with the Hard Part

Don’t worry about the second part first. In other words:

1st Step: Define your target profile as the ideal
2nd Step: Research how to apply that filter – then, if needed, adjust the driver to fit

Ideally, you’ll create profiles for only one or two target prospects: maybe three if they’re very concise.

Any more than that and you’re back in the “overloaded-and-forget-it” mode.

Additional Resources

For a more detailed approach to targeting prospects, visit (or revisit) our eBook “How to Write a Sales Plan”.

For a minimalist approach to targeting prospects, consider “Stop Wasting Sales Time & Qualify Prospects with 2 Questions.”


Prospecting is tough. Create a target prospect profile that energizes, motivates and focuses sales time and actions.

Try this profile approach to prospect targeting and let us know your results.

Questions or Ideas?

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Prospecting Deconstructed