The first sales step in any business is to identify your ideal customers. The characteristics that define your ideal customers will lead you to a list of your ideal prospects. To gain competitive advantage in the market, a great sales person will frame the answers to key questions before they even begin prospecting. By answering these key questions, successful sales people can overcome their “Fear-of-Failure”.

Five Key Questions

The first 5 questions focus on understanding your product and, more importantly, understanding your customer:

  • What do I sell?
  • Who is my customer?
  • Who is NOT my customer?
  • Why does my customer buy?
  • Why does my customer NOT buy?

The answers to these 5 questions prepare you for properly identifying your key prospects.

Let’s examine the first question, “What do I sell?”. This is more than a list of features and benefits for your product or service. The answer to this question must reach into the emotional connection with your ideal client. A great answer will resonate with your prospect to the extent that he or she sees the need for the product or service.

For the 2nd question--“Who is my customer?”--the more detailed the answer, the easier it is to identify prospects. Identify the demographics associated with your customer—age, gender, socio-economic status, family status, personality type, etc. Understand the position of your customer within the organization—occupation, position, authority level, and experience. Determine the knowledge level required for your product or service. Once you know your ideal customer, you can then determine the proper paths needed to reach your potential customers.

The 3rd question--“Who is NOT my customer?”-- is just as important. You do not want to be spending your valuable time going after non-customers. Once you determine the characteristics associated with non-customers, it is easier keep out of situations that will waste your time. One of the key questions for a non-customer is around the concept of affordability. If certain customers cannot afford your product or service, then start excluding them from the sales process right away.

Just as you answered questions associated with your product, it is now time to answer key questions for your customer—“Why does your customer buy?”. Define that one tangible benefit that will convince your customer to buy. Also, remember, that your customer has other stakeholders to convince. Defining solutions with an economic benefit provides direct evidence your customer can use to convince other stakeholders on the need for the product or service. Your ability to clearly define this benefit sets you apart from other sales people who just define the features of the product.

The converse to the last question is also important—“Why does your customer NOT buy?”. Evaluation of this question is one of the keys to overcoming objections. If you can determine why a customer is NOT buying, then you can address the reason at the beginning of your sales presentation. A customer may perceive a deficiency in your product. If so, then answer this perception with evidence to the contrary.

Fear of Failure

By answering these 5 questions, a sales person builds confidence. This confidence will overcome the “Fear-of-Failure” that can lead to the “Fear-of-Rejection”. Within the sales process there will be more “No’s” than “Yes’”. Understanding how your product or service can benefit an ideal prospect provides that competitive advantage to separate you from others.


There is a science behind prospecting for your ideal clients. The first step is knowledge of both your product and your ideal customer. Once you have answered these 5 questions, you will have more knowledge to create a better prospect list. Often, avoiding chasing a non-customer is just as valuable as finding an ideal prospect. The generated characteristics from this exercise will help narrow your list of customers. By having a clear understanding of your ideal customer you can search database lists for your exact criteria.

About the Author: Garrett Grega is a Certified Business Coach with FocalPoint Business Coaching in Branchburg, New Jersey, where he specializes in reconnecting executives, business owners, and managers with their business passions! Garrett has his own passion for supporting others through transitions and exit strategies. He has 20+ years helping international companies launch new products and processes. He previously spent 8 years launching LED lighting products for various lighting companies. His professional experience includes: strategic planning, business development, marketing, and product development. He can be reached at See more at


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