Jul 10 2009


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Targeting and Profiling Customers and Vendors Online: Resources and Strategies

By Christopher Hurtado and Scott Allen

Over 80 percent of respondents to a recent survey on the Ecademy BNI Trusted Network stated that the majority of their business came from networking and referrals. It’s the easiest way to get new business and doing it online is even easier (and less expensive). There’s an abundance of resources that make this possible including search engines and business information sites like Google, Hoover’s Online, Spoke Pro; online business networking communities like Ryze, Ecademy, and openBC; what we call “six degrees of separation” sites like LinkedIn, Spoke Basic, and Zero Degrees; customer relationship management (CRM) sites like SalesForce.com, freeCRM.com, and SugarCRM; and hybrid sites that offer the functionality of two or more of these like Spoke. We’ll delve deeper into each of these four categories of resources and the tactics to make them work for you in a series of future articles. In this article we’ll look at the targeting and profiling strategies behind the tactics that make it all work.


Sales conversations have to be targeted to be successful and targeting those conversations means focusing on the buyer’s goals. Here’s how you do it:

• First, determine the title or function of your prospect. You can probably do this from memory since you see the same job titles sale after sale.
• Next, come up with a menu of business issues for that title.
• Discuss these issues with your prospect until he shares a goal related to one of them.

• Once the prospect shares a goal your offering can help achieve, the buying cycle begins.

Let’s drill down deeper:

• What are the job titles or functions of the people you will have to have conversations with to close the sale?
• Who is qualified and empowered to buy from you? (Example: Vice President of International Business Development)
• List the vertical industries you work with even though you have horizontal offerings since prospective buyers will want to know you have experience in their industry. (Example: Energy)

• Now, for each of the job titles you’ve listed, what goals or business objectives do the people in those jobs or functions have? (Example: aligning international expansion with core business objectives, international management issues, and operational issues)
• Out of the goals you’ve listed, which ones can be addressed through your services? (Example: international management issues and operational issues) Make sure the goals you list are monetarily based – it’s easier to cost-justify buying a service that provides a measurable financial benefit.


There are two key areas of interest when profiling customers: demographics and behavior. Let’s first talk demographics:

• Who are your current customers?
• What are their job titles?
• In what industries are they found?
• How much of their company’s revenue comes from outside the US? According to Common Sense Advisory “for many fortune 500 firms, non-US revenue – or xenorevenue – accounts for 20 to more than 50% of their global income.”

Now let’s look at their behavior:

• What percentage of their revenue do they spend on your services? According to Common Sense Advisory, “localization expenditures are minuscule – 2.5% or lower of non-US revenue.” This discrepancy between earnings and expenditures represents a huge opportunity.
• What do they buy?

• How often do they buy?
• What is the size of their average purchase?
• What languages do they buy?
• What time of year do they buy?

You don’t have to think of everyone you target as a prospect. It’s worth networking with them regardless. People tend to know others like themselves, so by meeting and building relationships with more people who fit your target profile, you are likely to meet still more if you focus on creating relationships, rather than just moving on once you determine they’re not a prospect. Help them in areas other than those covered by your services. Build a relationship with them. As Harvey Mackay put it, “Apply The Law of Large Numbers to your prospect list. Position yourself as Number Two to every prospect on your list, and keep adding to that list.” If your list is long enough, the Law of Large Numbers will work to your advantage. Most large companies need translation. Few of them do it in house. They’ll always be reconsidering options. Don’t write them off just because they already have a provider. Contact them once in a while. Send them a relevant article. Work on being second in line. Gain mindshare and hold on to it because, in Mackay’s words, “If you’re standing second in line, in enough lines, sooner or later you’re going to move up to Number One.”

Christopher Hurtado is president and CEO of Linguistic Solutions, secretary of the ATATCD, and coauthor of Vacation Spanish: A Survival Guide for Mexico, the Caribbean, Central & South America. Since founding Linguistic Solutions in 1991, he has been using high tech/high touch methodologies to manage customer relationships, translation projects and a worldwide network of freelance translators while serving a variety of international clients, including Fortune 500 companies and high-tech startups.

Scott Allen is a leading expert in building quality business relationships online. He is coauthor of the forthcoming The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, a contributing author to Blog!: How the Web’s New Mavericks Are Changing the World, and a monthly columnist for FastCompany.com. He is also the About.com Entrepreneurs Guide, helping some 50,000 monthly visitors follow their dreams of business ownership.

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