Step 1: Identify Target, Key Customers

Step 1: Identify Target Customers, Key Accounts interviewing to develop an Outside-In Perspective

Key Accounts

If anything comes out of this exercise the understanding of Key accounts may be enough to create value out of the process. Key accounts are customers that we believe have a strategic importance. It does just not mean that they are just are largest customers.  Our criteria for selecting which accounts should go into a key account program are not carved in stone, but should take account not only revenue but things like growth potential, influence/star power.  Also, think in terms of what value they receive from your organization.

These are companies/people you know very well. One way might be determined is how deep in each organization do the both of you participate. Is there exchanges taking place through the two organizations.  For the purpose of creating your first funnel of opportunity you may want to limit your self to one value stream or a certain small but well-known segment of your business. It will help, go through the steps much quicker. Also you should identify at least 3 and no more than 7 or 8. Even the largest companies seldom have 15 or more key accounts.

Focus on a few things that they really value. These are the building blocks that we will start with. Having a good understanding of your core customer is imperative. Few people scale successfully without this understanding. Starbucks when opening a new store, looks to take away 25% of their business from an adjacent store. Apple was never afraid to create duplicate product features, iPod & iPhone and iPad all in someway build upon the previous. So, think about who they are, what they love, how they behave, and what they want. If you can’t answer that, why are you in business? If you don’t know your customer, why do you exists?

Key Accounts

When I discuss marketing needs starting with existing customers, I feel sort of pull-back from most people/organizations. They are looking for new markets and that blue ocean type thinking. I do believe that exploring the new customers and markets should certainly be part of any strategy. However, learning from existing customers is the first step in developing a marketing strategy.

I have always encouraged people to do a SWOT Analysis for existing market segments. My SWOT is not the simple 4-block exercise they do in college classes. I have attached a copy. I also recommend doing a SWOT on Key Customer accounts. The importance in that is the ability to understand your customer’s customer. Doing this also helps in forecasting as key trends are identified earlier.

SWOT Analysis Download & Description: Not as easy as you think, A SWOT Analysis

When reviewing existing and past customers, it is not so much about how we marketed towards them or the tools we used to secure them as clients. It is about understanding our customer’s customer.

  • What if we understood what jobs they were struggling with?
  • What if we understood which markets are existing customers were not serving well?
  • Who are the largest customers that may have outgrown using them as an intermediary?
  • What about their customers that they would be happy to get rid of?
  • What about people that struggled because of certain demographics/offerings?

What we are doing is extracting knowledge and learning from it. If we directly take customers away, we need to evaluate and possible, partner or compensate our existing customer database. On the other hand, they may even refer customers to us, ones they do not want to handle. Most importantly though is we use this data to find similar prospects and new customers. It is the knowledge we gain from this exercise that is our first stepping stone to finding new markets.

These are the people/organizations that already recognize they have a need for your services. Creating awareness in a market that does not understand your services or has not used a similar service can be costly both in time and money. You have to educate them. Or, you have to take them away from competitors.

This relates to the concepts of edges that I discuss. We start with what is known and work outward, never making a cold call always making a warm call. Always building upon what we know, engaging prospects, exploring new.  Doing it this way we can quickly test new ideas, new methods in small groups and build upon the information we receive. To find the edges of existing customers, market segments is again not an intuitive process. It requires a deep understanding of our customer’s markets, not ours.

When we look at trends later the better we understand our customer’s markets, the more reliable our forecasts will become. I encourage you to use tools that you are familiar with and if at all possible with customer representation involved. But what if you had a SWOT, or Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas.

The Business Model Canvas is an incredible document for visualizing. The nine blocks can be completed by answering these questions:

  1. Key Partners: Who helps you?
  2. Key Activities: What you do?
  3. Key Resources: Who you are and what you have?
  4. Cost Structure: What you give?
  5. Value Proposition: How you help?
  6. Customer Relationships: How you interact?
  7. Channels: How they know you (pre-purchase) and how you deliver (post-purchase)?
  8. Customer Segments: Who you help?
  9. Revenue Streams: What you get?

I use to use Galbrieths 5 Star Model and complete for key accounts.  You can also use a STEEP/Pest Analysis, the point is to dig deep and understand customers as well as you do yourself. Use tools you are familiar with or at least someone in your organization is that can guide you.

Whitepaper Download Funnel of Opportunity Part 1:

Whiteboard Videos:

I have uploaded a few videos and honestly experimenting with the whiteboard videos. I tried to simulate talking to a group with a whiteboard and if you have presented online before you know the difficulty. It is so much easier with a live audience and I am not sure why. The whiteboard videos range from four to 6 minutes long and total around 13 minutes.

In FoO we market towards the use. Understand the environment where people are using our product & services. We may not be “selling” to the user but where you find opportunity is in that area. This is the deep dive or the edges I start talking about. Today’s marketing should not be thought of as towards someone but instead with someone. In their (hopefully it is also ours) space; we just need to be there.

1- Intro to FoO:

2- You are who your customers are”

3- Where is the Opportunity:

Let me know what you think about the whiteboards. I know they have room for improvement but do you like that approach more than the powerpoints?

If I were to do personas this is more or less how I would do one. 

Your Capacity to increase the future is directly proportional to you ability to learn from your customer. As I mentioned before, you are who your customers are. I was asked for a little more explanation on personas and/or marketing segments. I chose to expand on the personas and attached you will find a PDF, an excel workbook and a short video,


Excel Workbook:


Beginning: Funnel of Opportunity Introduction

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