Author: collin stewart
Nailing your niche is a crucial step for both inbound and outbound sales teams. For outbound sales teams especially, a clearly defined niche is key to converting prospects. Without it, your team will lack the foundation and direction needed to grow.
Narrowing your niche will result in more compelling messaging, a faster outbound sales cycle, and a clear advantage over your generalist competitors.
What is a niche and why is it so important?
The term niche is often misunderstood; in simple terms, your niche is the market segment where your outbound and inbound sales teams direct the majority of their time and attention.
Having a niche allows you to differentiate from competitors and position yourself as an expert in that domain. As our co-founder Aaron Ross explains in this article, “Having a niche is like being the big fish in a small pond—it’s much easier to be successful in a small pond compared to a large one.”
Nailing your niche is the best way to stand out to potential customers. It will allow your outbound sales team to concentrate their efforts on only the most relevant prospects, and weed out those who aren’t a good fit.
Nailing the niche for inbound sales
Your inbound sales team is likely using a variety of methods to “pull” customers into your funnel and qualify potential leads. But without nailing the niche, these efforts will lead to mediocre results at best.
If your goal is to bring in more qualified leads, that begins with a clear understanding of who you serve, how you serve them, and what makes your company different. Market research is a great way to learn more about your prospects.
Understanding your prospects’ pain points will allow your inbound sales team to tailor their messaging to resonate with your ideal customer and ensure you attract qualified leads.
Nailing the niche for outbound sales
The process of nailing the niche for outbound sales differs from inbound, and in some ways, it’s even more critical.
Outbound niches may be a subset of the inbound ideal customer profile (ICP) or it may be entirely separate; for instance, a new market or industry that isn’t yet aware of your product or service would be difficult to target with inbound.
Target deal size is another factor worth considering. Outbound sales require a larger investment of time and therefore the deal size should be larger as well, or you won’t generate enough revenue to justify the effort.
The cost of not having an outbound niche
Many companies who have grown primarily through word-of-mouth struggle with lead generation and outbound prospecting. This is because they haven’t nailed their niche; their outbound sales team doesn’t know how to communicate why prospects need their product, or why a customer should choose them over the competition.
One of the major obstacles in outbound sales is “the Arc of Attention”. When a prospect reads your cold email or picks up the phone, you only have a few seconds to grab their attention. They don’t know you, and to build trust and maintain their attention, you need to quickly outline how your business solves their pain.
If your outbound sales reps fail to immediately capture the prospect’s interest, they’re likely outside your niche and unwilling to invest time into learning more about your product. But if you’re able to clearly articulate why the prospect needs your solution, you’ll be able to build trust and move them along the “Arc of Attention”.
How to finally nail your outbound sales niche
If your outbound sales team hasn’t nailed the niche yet, there are a few simple steps you can take to gain clarity. Start by defining the following:
Your ideal customer
You may think you know your prospect’s pain points and desires, but until you hear about it in their own words you’ll be missing out on key niche criteria. Market research surveys and customer interviews can be gold mines of information.
In addition, make sure every sales rep has access to your ICP. When everyone on your outbound sales team understands and empathizes with the prospect, cold outreach becomes much more effective. Having your ideal customer narrowed down for outbound will also allow your team to build sequences based on the specific niche.
ICPs for outbound sales
Unlike inbound sales, which cast a wide net of prospects, outbound sales need to be more targeted. All types of leads will come through inbound (both qualified and unqualified), but your outbound team should only reach out to the most qualified prospects.
At Predictable Revenue, we recommend creating three different ICPs for outbound sales: perfect fits, potential fits, and poor fits. Potential fits may come through inbound sales, and you may decide they’re worth working with, but your outbound efforts should be focused entirely on the perfect fit category. Don’t waste time and outbound resources on potential fits who don’t meet your qualification criteria.
When it comes to defining your different ICPs, include their seniority, job function, and location. If you have multiple personas, try to categorize them under umbrella titles.
Keep the following in mind for both inbound and outbound sales:
How your solution solves the prospect’s problems
Make sure every outbound sales rep can articulate how your solution fits the prospect’s needs, and what specific, tangible benefits it provides. What results will you help the prospect achieve for their company?
Whenever possible, use hard numbers, case studies, and social proof to back up these results. For example, “We helped X company save Y dollars, and generate Z% more sales.”
What makes you different from the competition? Every company has unique strengths, things they do better than everyone else–whether that’s customer relationships, top-notch service, or a compelling brand story.
If you’re struggling with this, try using personal stories from your founder or employees. Find your “unique genius” and use it in both your outbound and inbound sales.
What makes your product a “must-have”?
Here at Predictable Revenue, we like to define all products and services as either “nice to have” or “must-have”. Work on making your solution a must-have, and clearly explain why customers need your product to be successful.
Nailing your niche will make it easier for sales development reps and account executives to meet their numbers. Your outbound sales team will have a clear understanding of the ideal customer suited to outbound prospecting, and know exactly how your solution solves their problem. This makes for more productive and successful sales conversations–which in turn should translate to more closed deals.
If you need help defining your niche or building a strong outbound campaign, we’re here to help. Our coaching and consulting service: Outbound Health Check can help you establish strong foundations before starting an outbound sales function at your company.
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