Key Relationship Targets

There are four groups of people who are your key relationship targets in relationship based sales. These groups are labeled: Clients, Evangelists, Prospects and Suspects.  The video below provides a brief overview of the composition of each group and their importance in the sales process.

Here is the transcript from the video:

When it comes to relationship development, there are four different types of people on whom we focus. These people are called suspects, prospects, clients, and evangelists. We’ll talk a little bit now about each of these folks and how they play into your relationship development process.


We’ll start with the most obvious group – clients. A client is someone who pays you for your product or your service. In the 60 Second Sale system, we call folks who pay us for our services clients, but you may refer to them as customers, or patients, or subscribers depending on your business. The reason that I use the term clients versus customers is I want to focus on the long-term relationship.

If you’re focusing on the long-term relationship, you’re thinking of the person as someone who you need to stay in touch with and continue to work to demonstrate value and to add more to the relationship over time. The word client really does that. The word customer doesn’t. So I call these folks clients and they pay you for your product, they pay you for your service. If someone is a client and they pay you one time for a product or service, and then they refer business to you, I still refer to them as clients. I want to make that distinction because I don’t want you to confuse them with the next group.


The next group of folks we work with when it comes to relationship development are called evangelists. These are people who have never used your services. However, they continue to recommend you, refer you and do everything they can to spread the word that you are a good person, you deliver a lot of value, and you’re worthy of investment. I use an example from the legal profession all the time. One of my really good friends is someone who I refer a lot of business to and he is an ethics attorney. He’s an ethics attorney in Florida, and he helps lawyers who receive ethical complaints or lawyers who have issues in front of the regulatory body of their state. He helps them with those issues.

I have never had a need to use his services. I’m not an attorney. However, I’ve worked with a lot of attorneys over the years, and from time to time they have issues where they go before the regulatory agency in Florida, that handles attorney issues. These folks need someone who can help them with these issues, so I recommend my friend to people who have issues like this. I’ve never used his services. I’ve never had a need for his services. I won’t have a need for his services, but I recommend him, and I talk about him all the time. I’m talking about him to you right now, so I’m an evangelist for this person.

The same thing happens when you are recommending someone else whose services you’ve never used, but you trust them, and you’ve heard that they have a good reputation, and you’re sure that they’re going to do a good job. You’re an evangelist for that person. Well, there are people out there that who are evangelists for you, and that’s the second group of people that we’re talking about today. These are people who are recommending you and will want you to continue to add value to those folks. We want to add value to their lives. You want to add value to everything they do. We want to add value to their business if possible because you want them to keep evangelizing for you.


The third group of people are prospects. In sales speak, we use the word prospect all the time, and this is someone who we believe has a problem we can solve. They have the money to be able to pay us, and they have the ability to make a decision. They’re qualified. They have the ability to make a decision to hire us. That’s a prospect. Now, how do we know that they have ability to make a decision and a problem we can solve? Well, they’ve done something to demonstrate interest, and they’ve communicated to us in some way they have the ability to hire us and a problem we can solve. Someone, right now, who’s working with your competitor is a good prospect for you because they’re working with a competitor, they have a need for services you provide, right? They’re working with your competitor. They can afford the services because they’re paying the competitor, and they have the ability to make a decision because they hired the competitor. So that person is a prospect for you.


The fourth group, these people are called suspects. Let’s talk about suspects in a way that makes the most sense. These are people you suspect would be good clients if you got to know them a little bit and if you developed a relationship with them. Take, for example, you’re going to give a speech, and in the room are three of your best clients, and they belong to this association. Everyone in the room is in the same business and has the same exact role as your clients who are in the room. The people who in the room who are not clients of yours, you suspect that they may be good clients at one point, you just have to get to know them. You have to deliver some value to them. That’s great. Those people are suspects.

Now, suspects become prospects when they demonstrate some interest in you. So you go to deliver a speech, there’s a roomful of suspects, and you say to the roomful of suspects, “I’m not going to have time to cover every point on this topic, but I’ve prepared this special report for you. This free whitepaper called The Five Things You Ever Wanted to Know About Blah, Blah, Blah. The topic I’m talking about today. If you want the report, pass me your business card, and I’ll be happy to email it to you.”

Anybody who passes you a business card and requests that report goes from being a suspect to being a prospect. Those people have now demonstrated an interest. They’ve qualified themselves to move from being a suspect to being a prospect. As you’re out developing relationships, you look for groups of suspects, and then you strive to convert them from suspects to prospects. And then you strive to convert prospects into clients, by getting them to invest in your services.

When we focus on relationship development, that’s where we focus. It’s called conversion, and we focus on converting suspects to prospects. We focus on converting prospects to clients. We focus on getting evangelists to refer us and to refer us more offer, and then we focus on getting clients to deepen their relationship with us by investing more money, by purchasing more frequently, and by telling their friends about us. That’s why these four people are so important. These four groups of people are so important because you need to understand who the folks are that you’re talking to.

So often I see salespeople just run out, headlong into the street and grab people and try and say to them, “Hey, do you want what I have to offer?” That’s an exaggeration, but that’s what you’re trying to do right now. You’re cold calling. You’re dialing through a phone book. Right, remember a phone book in the old days. You’re dialing through a computer-generated database now of people who are not qualified. You don’t know who they are. You don’t know what they’re doing for business in your area right now.

You’ve got to make sure you break them down into one of these four categories so that you know how to create a message that’s spot on for those groups of people. Suspects, prospects, clients, and evangelists. Familiarize yourselves with who those people are in your world, and then you can develop a message that’s targeted to each one of them.

In case you missed the previous videos in this series, you can find them here:

Coaching Session One: External Orientation

Coaching Session Two:  Relationship Revenue: An Overview