To Sell or Not to Sell: How to Know Who Not to Sell To

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To Sell or Not to Sell How to Know Who Not to Sell To - Growbots blog

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The quintessential salesman was typified in Alec Baldwin’s “coffee’s for closers” speech in Glengarry Glen Ross. Since the sales department is the money powerhouse of a company that turns a profit, it can be easy for salespeople to become single-minded in pursuing the next sale.

Salespeople are so busy always closing that they forget to ask another question: Do I know who not to sell to?

To Sell or Not to Sell: How to Know Who Not to Sell To

Don’t sell to everyone.

It’s highly likely that your organization has spent a lot of time defining what makes it unique. Whether that’s your employees’ qualifications and expertise, your world-class service, competitive rates, or that je ne sais quoi feeling, you know what it is.

But often when companies are asked, “Who is your ideal client?” the answer is, “Everyone who will buy from me!”

Chances are, you’ve experienced the brunt of a bad customer. You sink all of your time into doing your best work on their projects and at the end of the day, they’re still unsatisfied.

Not only is this demoralizing for your employees, but it’s costing your organization in time, money, and resources.

HubSpot’s Marketing Agency Growth Report 2018 shows that nearly 60% of agencies say that acquiring new customers is a big focus while another 16% admit they face client retention problems.

Customers that are not the right fit cost money, time, and frustration when customers that are the right fit can accelerate the sales process, increase profits, and improve employee engagement.

The key to finding your right customers is knowing who not to sell to.

Let Your Ideal Customer Profile Set You Free

At the face of it, an Ideal Customer Profile is simple. It defines which customers are a good fit for your services and products and which ones are not (if you are a B2B company, this is at the company level).

However, on a bigger scale, nailing down just the right description can be a bit tricky.

A word of advice before moving on: don’t fear FOMO. Many organizations resist making an Ideal Customer Profile because they are afraid they are walking away from profits.

Just because you’ve developed a profile doesn’t mean you can’t say yes to customers outside of it or the profile can’t evolve as your organization evolves. Sometimes setting boundaries can be the most freeing.

No One’s Ideal Customer Is ‘Everyone’

When defining whom your ideal customer is, you will also define who not to sell to. Categories you might want to consider include:

Demographic Information

  • Age
  • Location
  • Company size
  • Structure
  • Yearly revenue
  • Industry(ies)
  • Marketing budget


  • What is their communication style?
  • Where do they go to find new information?
  • What social networks do they frequent?
  • What conferences do they attend?

Goals and challenges

  • What is their biggest challenge?
  • What are the common pain points?
  • What knowledge gaps do they have?
  • What are their job responsibilities?
  • How do they define success?

Tips and Tricks to Help You Define Your Ideal Customer

1. What result are you selling? 

Customers don’t buy products. They buy results. In hardware terms, when you buy a ½ inch drill bit, you are really buying a ½ hole.

When you think about how great your products or services are, you should be considering what the end result is. For example, at Growbots, we sell data and email automation software to our customers.

The result we are selling is time efficiency and improved productivity. Our tools supercharge the lead generation process and give back hours to salespeople a day. That is the time they can use to close more sales (with the right customers!) and generate revenue for the company.

This information alone helps us narrow down who our ideal client might be and who not to sell to. We should likely target companies with a dedicated sales team that struggle to find viable leads.

When you look at your company, what results do your customers want? How do you provide that?

2. Your ideal customers will align with your company values.

Just like how your employees influence your office culture, your customers influence your sales culture. If your employees are working with customers who are difficult, unreasonable, or even downright abusive, it can quickly tank your office morale.

Choosing customers that have a similar energy to your company will go a long way to ensure that you can maintain a healthy, happy, productive relationship into the future.

3. Keep an eye out for red flags.

Just how there are positive identifiers you can assign to your ideal customer, you can also define what you don’t want in a customer. These are characteristics that will lead to conflict. Maybe you have learned your red flags the hard way.

For example, at Growbots, we can offer 1,000 leads a month to our customers with our basic package. Customers that only have about 1,000 potential leads will quickly run through any value we can offer.

Your red flags might be customers in a specific location due to geographic or legal restraints. It might be customers that use Apple products because your software is only Windows compatible.

Specifically defining your red flags ahead of time can help you know who not to sell to, to reduce customer churn and increase revenue.

Set the Stage for Success By Knowing Who Not to Sell To.

Knowing the customers that aren’t a good fit for you is just as important as knowing which ones are.

Taking the time to define your Ideal Customer Profile will not only reduce customer churn and increase customers’ satisfaction, but it can help you refine your outbound sales messages to speak uniquely to their needs.

With an Ideal Customer Profile, you can make savvy decisions across your business from what products to develop and how to where to market and what message to use.

Do you have any tips and tricks to know who not to sell to? Let us know in the comments.

no prior experience & time required

Find your winning outbound formula with Concierge

no prior experience & time required

Find your winning outbound formula with Concierge

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