Narrowing Focus (Issue 682)

In which we are reminded that, while no territory is perfect, focus can improve our odds.

I remember my high school junior daughter and I were sitting in our family’s basement study space in the dead of a years ago winter, hovering around her computer screen at the beginning of her college selection deliberations.  We were playing with a ‘find which college is right for you’ web site.

“How many four-year colleges and universities are there,” she wondered?  About 2,500 it turns out.

“What do you think would be important for you in a college,” I asked?

“Two hours or less to the ocean, not in New England,” she said.  We ran the list.  Pretty long list!

“Size,” she said.  So we narrowed that down to schools with 2,500 to 5,000 students. New list.

“Academic challenge,” she added.  We ran the list again.

“Campus environment,” she thought.  Another list.

LOTS of lists later, there were ten criteria that led to a list of fifteen schools.  She applied to some of those and chose one…. from which she graduated yesterday, all smiles. Big congratulations to her!!!!!

Could she have been as satisfied and as successful at schools that didn’t make the final fifteen?   I’m sure she could… and the potential for a poor experience would have been higher.  Some characteristic or another would have been significantly “out of spec” and, thus, a distractor. Balancing all of the criteria, she picked the best one of the bunch for herself… and knocked the cover off the ball.

Often, we sellers start with  2,500 or more potential prospects in our territory universes, too. Some of us would do well to narrow the spectrum to 15; for others of us the right number might be 50 or 100. The trick is to establish criteria and focus, unwavering, on prospects that pass that screen. They’re the “most likely to succeed” for us.

So, as we think about the rest of this year and begin our planning for next, it’s worth a check, even for the most seasoned of us:  Are we wandering, opportunistically, from one potentially shiny object to the next? (A surprising number of us do that!) Or,  are we clear…. crystal clear…. about our top ten criteria and our reasons for choosing them… and, are we working to those criteria?

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