• Gert Scholts

Your target markets are dead. Look behind the horizon.

Here is a short story. In November 2019, I took part in a sales strategy meeting. We understood buyer personas, had fabulous sales pitches, a long list of prospects and a well-prepared sales team with outstanding marketing support. We agreed a comprehensive and robust plan to sell into professionally researched verticals. Confidence and motivation was the highest ever. Just like the sales targets.

Today, the pipeline of new sales is down, and the team is off target. Yet, ecommerce sales (our market) are in the lift since March 2020 as a result of COVID-19 according to Statista.

This suggests that the sales opportunity is there, we just need to change our market focus and adapt our sales practice. This short article aims to show how.

The pandemic has changed consumer behaviours dramatically. People and businesses have different priorities and spend their hard-earned cash on other things and in different ways.

Whilst many leisure and travel activities have come to a stop, unsurprisingly, supermarket shopping is up 23.4% but spend on non-essentials is down by almost 13%. In addition the UK population has started to support local businesses more resulting in a 50% increase in spend according to Barclaycard.

Our customers' customers behaviours have changed and so has theirs. The plans made in November appear irrelevant and new sales are not materialising. If we keep on doing the same things, we will be getting the same results (or worse).

The time has come to re-think who our customers are and how to sell to them. Here is a blueprint to do so.

Re-design your customer profile.

When we did our last customer profiling, the world was a quite different place. The changed priorities means we must abandon some of our previously selected markets and seek opportunities where consumers are now spending.

Change your sales pitch to suit your new market

Every top seller knows the need to have laser sharp precision for their target market. If you are used to sell to higher risk category merchants such as airlines or gaming, your sales story will have been developed to suit those markets. That is where your success came from.

That same narrative will not work with your new prospects in new markets. You must change your pitch fast. That may mean new marketing collateral, different pricing or service levels. The time to work together between Sales, Marketing, Ops, Finance and Pricing is here, right now.

Make a new prospect list

Build a new list of companies and new contacts based on the new customer profile. Keep your list of current prospects for later. For success, we need a new list based on new people. Key sources will be your own contacts, LinkedIn and other (virtual) places your ideal merchants will be visible. Aim to have a minimum of 50 names and contact details that meet merchant's profile(s) from both a company and contact perspective. This list will not only secure your pipeline, it will also help secure your future position with a profitable organisation.


Tell your market you are open for business for them. Forget you are a well-known name in other markets. Be inspiring, motivational and persuasive. Let your prospects know about your services and find out if have a requirement now or in the future.

Work as a team to build the sales pitch, rehearse it and translate it into email approaches, LinkedIn messages, LinkedIn content marketing, phone/video calls and any suitable media. This is what selling was always about. Be a pioneer, a trailblazer and magnet for new business.

Sales process

We all know that not every company or individual that shows an interest in your services will be a client straight away. They need to be convinced by great salespeople who:

  • promote relentlessly how your organisation helps the merchant meet their business objectives better than the competition

  • price your services at competitive rates reflecting market conditions

  • position the right acquiring products for the merchant based on their requirements

  • placing products and solutions in front of potential merchants when their need is highest

We need to qualify each prospective merchant using well-proven sales process methods such as fact-finding decision makers, applying advanced question techniques, agreeing priorities and time frames.

Winning opportunities

We know that sales are made and do not 'just happen' in business. So, dust off and rehearse those closing techniques you were taught all those years ago. They worked then and will work now.

Bringing it all together

When markets change, salespeople need to change their knowledge, skills and attitude too.

If they do, they and their companies will flourish.

The opposite is also true. If they do not change, they will miss out on opportunities and will possibly jeopardise their personal future and their company's.

I work with sales people and their leadership finding new target markets and selling to them.

Feel free to get in touch and find out more

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