3 Prospect Categories for Technical Sales Engineers

If you’re new to sales and to the technical sales process, you might not be aware that there are different categories of prospects. Not all sales prospects are created equal. There are big accounts who can help you achieve your sales quota in one go, medium accounts that are significant but will not land you quota-reaching amounts, and small accounts that will bring in some revenue.

Whatever you call them, you need to categorize your prospects. Some technical sales engineers will just label them as simple as A, B, or C or maybe big, medium, or small. For our purpose, we will call them whales, sharks, and fish. Let’s take a closer look at the technical sales process using these three categories.

First Prospect Category: Whales

Whales are accounts with significant potential and are typically large in size and revenue. Technical sales engineers love to hunt whales – think Fortune 500 companies. This is not surprising because these accounts could have a huge impact on company revenue and personal income, especially if a technical sales engineer works on commission. These types of accounts are important and technical sales engineers should always keep an eye out for an opportunity to catch a whale.

However, when technical sales engineers focus solely on whales and neglect other categories of prospects, it becomes a problem. Your sales pipeline will quickly dry up if you just focus on these large accounts. Bigger clients and large accounts usually mean a longer technical sales process. These whales can take 6, 12, or even 18 months to close, depending on how big the company is, how big the deal is, and the number of decision makers involved.

While it is important to target whales, a technical sales engineer should make sure that they also have other accounts in their pipeline that they can spend time working on while waiting to close their whale.

Second Prospect Category: Sharks

Sharks are accounts with medium revenue and potential for your company. In terms of size, you can assume that about two or three sharks will equal one whale. Technical sales engineers should make sure that they also have sharks in their sales pipeline, not just whales.

These accounts won’t take as much time to close as whales. A technical sales engineer will make less with a shark compared to a whale, but there are more sharks to go around and they will be easier to catch. While revenue potential is not as big, sharks should also be an important part of your sales pipeline.

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Third Prospect Category: Fish

As the name already suggests, fish are smaller accounts with low revenue, but they are easier and faster to close. These types of accounts won’t drastically change your revenue and they are not game-changing opportunities. However, they are still necessary prospects in your sales pipeline.

Because these accounts are smaller companies, they will most likely be faster and easier to close than whales. There are also more fish compared to whales in the market. If you close enough fish, it will also have an impact on your bottom line. Fish are an important in helping to keep your sales pipeline full.

A Successful Technical Sales Process

If you add up enough fish and sharks, they equal a couple of whales. This is why it’s important to target all kinds of accounts – whales, sharks, and fish. If you just go after the biggest accounts, you’re going to lose the opportunity to close many other smaller accounts.

Think about this scenario, you are working on a whale account for months and you decided to focus solely on it because of the huge revenue it will bring in. In a sales meeting with your boss, he asks you what’s keeping you busy and you say this account and this account only. However, after the meeting, the deal unexpectedly falls through.

What do you think your boss will tell you in the next meeting? He will probably ask you what else is keeping you busy. If you spent all your time on only one account, or maybe only a couple of big accounts, you’re going to have a hard time answering.

The best thing to do to have a successful technical sales process is to always look at the different categories of customers. Make sure you have your prospects evenly spread out to make the most out of the opportunities they all present. If you don’t, you’ll risk being stuck if an account suddenly doesn’t push through.

You should always keep your goals in mind, whether business goals or personal, and work towards them. Keep on moving forward and try to close as many deals as you can. Have a good mix of whales, sharks, and fish to give you the best chance of reaching your goals.

Technical sales is all about results. It doesn’t matter if your sales comes from two whales or ten fish. What matters is that you keep your sales pipeline full with a good mix of prospects to make the most out of any opportunity that comes your way.

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