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Last updated on 2/6/20

Define your target clientele

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The next milestone in your business proposal is the selection of a group of potential buyers for your services: your target clientele.

Don’t hesitate to choose a very precise target, by concentrating on a niche market. The smaller and more specific your proposed clientele, the more you’ll be able to focus your efforts during the prospection phase and, thus, save time. Operating in a niche market is also a good way to position yourself as an expert.

In this chapter, we’ll see how to:

  • Be inspired by existing categories to find client ideas, and

  • Meet ideal clients through the construction of a persona.

Be inspired by existing client types

To find your target clientele, think about people and companies who could benefit from your services to solve their daily or ad hoc problems. Who needs your help? Are these companies or individuals?

The terms B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Customers) mean, respectively, service provision aimed at businesses and that meant for individuals.

Here are your criteria to take into account for choosing a quite specific client type:

For businesses (B2B): line of business, industry, geographical area, team to contact, type of organisation.

To get ideas:

  • Browse the Standard industrial classification of economic activities (SIC) to identify lines of business;

  • Choose one or more types of organisation: agencies, large corporations, small and medium-sized businesses, very small businesses, public institutions, public and private sectors, individual entrepreneurs, start-ups, restaurants, artisans, associations, foundations, political parties, religious organisations, universities, individuals, freelance job platforms, etc.

For individuals (B2C): gender, age, profession, place of residence, family situation, consumer habits and interests.

To get ideas:

  • Use the official list of socio-economic groups; and

  • Browse client profiles and services on job search platforms.   

Once you have your target clientele in mind, we can bring together the information in the form of an ID file called a “persona”.

Construct the persona of your ideal client

The persona of your ideal client is a sort of ID file describing the characteristics of your target.

It’s an imaginary profile, which your clients will match in some respects. This tool is used, particularly in marketing and in design, to create everything in harmony with the client and, thus, sell more successfully.

It’s the same type of ID file, whether the clientele is B2B or B2C since, in order to sell, you’re going to make connections with other people. 😁 For B2B clients, you can highlight more specifications, goals and professional situations.

In the business context, you need to create the persona of a person or group in charge of decision- making when it comes to buying services. Look for the person with the means, the authority, and the need to buy your services. In this case, you can construct the persona of the main person you think you need to convince. For example, in a small business, the manager approves the budget (the means) and manages the decision-making (the authority) for nearly all purchases, even if the products or services purchased are used by their team and not directly by them (the need).

We are going to construct a simplified persona which will help you in your client search, during the prospection phase. It’s up to you to make up this file with a lot of information or just a little in each category.

You can even add a photo, a biography, give a first name and/or assign a quotation to your persona.

Who is your target client?

ID

First name, age, gender, educational level, family situation, town of residence etc.

Characteristics

Professional situation (detailed for B2B profiles), personality, dreams, ambitions etc.

Goals

What they want to achieve in their personal and professional lives, the problems they currently hope to resolve.

Role-play

What’s the framework within which they need your services? What do they currently use?

Let’s take the example of Sophie. After five years as the technical director of a small or medium-sized business specialising in computer programmes, she wants to become a freelancer and offer database development services.

Here is the persona of her ideal client:

Sample persona
Sample persona

Sophie’s persona will be a great help in her sales canvassing. With this file, she understands that she needs to contact directors of private and public health services' IT systems in her region and to offer them her services for transferring all their old systems data to new, secure computer programs, with no additional workload for their existing team. She will offer advice, training, project management and program development to help clients like “John”.

Let's recap!

But first, it’s essential to calculate your break-even point (and your minimum hourly rate) to ensure that you charge rates that enable you to make a living from your business.

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement