Whew! I’ve recently finished a blog series on what I see as the seven typical stages in the B2B buying process. Call them the magnificent seven if you will :-).

It’s important to understand how our customers buy expensive, drawn-out and complex things because if we don’t know how they want to buy from us, we don’t know how to sell to them – effectively. I say effectively because we can all do whatever it takes to sell, but you need to do it profitably, productively and sustainably, or you won’t grow.

In order for you to deliver on this understanding, you need to do one really important thing, which I shall emphasise with the ‘dah dah dah’ dramatic use of the hyphen. You – need – to – match – your – sales – stages – to – your – customers’ – buying – stages. Simple!

Which brings us to the first selling stage. This is aligned – for that is the meaning of ‘match’ – to the first buying stage, namely the ongoing operation and review of the customer’s business that reveals awareness of a problem or opportunity. The first selling stage is your Addressable Market.

As you do your research into potential industries and customers to sell to, consider these questions:

– what businesses are they in that you could help improve?

– do they normally buy your kinds of products and services?

– do they have the kinds of problems that you can prove you solve?

– which role usually does the buying for your product and service?

– are they of a similar size, growth stage, sector and region and that you are comfortable doing business with? Hint: if not, they probably don’t fit nicely into the same buying process…

– are they already working with companies that fulfil a similar business need to you?

– are there enough of them and is their combined spend enough for you to win an achievable market share that allows you to grow?

Once you can get a sense of your total target market, you can then decide which portion of that market would pay for your products and services. This is your addressable market.

Don’t be tempted to put additional companies into your addressable market if they don’t fit. They’re a distraction and too expensive to sell to and service, because of the lack of fit.

Do be tempted to keep adding in new companies that do fit your addressable market.