Can You Build Sales With Only Dream Clients? A Question from The Sales Blog Mailbag.

Can You Build Sales With Only Dream Clients? The Sales Blog Mailbag.

I try to respond to every email that I receive directly. Sometimes I write about the topic in a post, and other times I just answer the question through email, over the phone, on Google Talk (iannarino), or on Skype (iannarino).

I am answering the sales management and leadership questions over at the Future Selling Institute, answering them on the blog (free), in our weekly webinar (still free) in the forums or content modules (members only), or in the LinkedIn group (always free).

I am going to start answering a couple questions here under the title “The Sales Blog Mailbag,” and we’ll see how that turns out. Maybe if there is enough interest and enough interesting questions, it will become a regular feature.

Here is the first question for the first ever Mailbag:

Can You Build Your Sales With Only Dream Clients?

Yes, you can build your business with only dream clients. In fact, if you are going to build a business, you are going to build your business by serving your dream clients.

How about a quick review? A dream client is a prospective client for whom you can do breath-taking, jaw-dropping, earth-shattering work. A dream client will recognize the value that you create, and they will be willing to allow you to keep some of the value that you create.

This is a different idea than a simple prospect. A prospect may spend money in your category. But they won’t value what it is you do in the same way a dream client does. You won’t be able to create the same kind of value, they will never appreciate what value you do create, and they will only grudgingly allow you to keep anything that looks like profits.

The relationship with a simple prospect versus a dream client will be very different. They won’t work with you to create a bigger pie, to ensure that what they need doesn’t cost you more money than necessary, and they will generally treat you like a vendor—even when you don’t behave like a vendor.

You could do worse than prospects. You could call on nightmare clients. These prospects should have been disqualified. You can’t make any money working with nightmare clients. They are expensive to serve, and they are expensive to serve in the way of emotional and psychological costs. You can’t create any value for them, or they won’t let you. And, worse still, they are extremely low on the business relationships maturity continuum.

To make producing real sales results as easy as possible, you have to do the difficult work of sales. The difficult work is what produces real results against the clock. This means targeting the dream clients for whom you can create massive value and disqualifying lesser prospective clients. It means prospecting, developing relationships, and nurturing those relationship by creating value before claiming any.

If you don’t have enough dream clients, you need to spend more time prospecting to develop your list of dream clients. But it might be easier to get your mind around this concept that might be called “super-qualifying” or “super-targeting” by saying it this way:

Your dream clients are the companies and people for whom moving their business to you would be a massive upgrade in results and outcomes over what they are doing now.

A Word of Caution

Dream client doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the highest spending targets. In fact, the opposite is often true.

The reason dream clients are worth pursuing is because you have the ability to create massive value for them, you can help them produce better outcomes. Being valuable to your dream client makes selling easier, even if the “getting in” part is still difficult.


Who are the target dream clients for whom you can create massive value—if you can get in?

Look at your prospect list. Are some of them companies for whom you really can’t do anything to improve their outcomes, or where improving their outcomes wouldn’t be valued?

How about nightmare clients? Got any of those on your list? Can you drop them and set your sights on more dream clients?

What do you think of the mailbag idea?

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  • Brad Stewart

    Love the concept but there are definitely issues here. Many times you won’t know that your dream prospect isn’t necessarily your dream client until you’ve lived through some time with them. Other times you won’t know you’re sitting on a dream client until you’ve done a little business with them. Another potential issue is a change within an organization that helps or hurts you. People are people and have preexisting biases and show favoritism, like it or not. My thought is that we should always have a good mix in our current client portfolio and our funnel. Your thoughts about this?

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the comment, Brad.

      I hear you, but I have a tough time with the idea of pursuing clients for whom we can’t do great work with a few nightmare clients sprinkled in for good measure (which is not to say that your dream clients aren’t going to push you to be better, just that nightmare clients are adversarial and have low maturity levels when it comes to business relationships).

      We choose who we pursue, and their interest in us usually outweighs our qualifying well, no?

      You’ll have to tell me more about this mix.


  • Mike Menegay

    I think the concept here is to understand the “dream client” criteria for your business and constantly train and drive your sales people to think about these attributes while prospecting and handling their installed base; strive constantly for “perfection” on the concept and it will magically settle in somewhere around “excellence” and “good” results. It is another way to raise the bar inside your sales organization and quickly assist you with evaulating your sales talent around critical success factors for your business’s growth – outside of just revenue/margin metrics of the moment.