BY TJ Walker

Here is what you want when trying to sell a professional service that is on the high end.

  1. Someone who is seeking out your service (not someone you have sought out).
  2. Someone who thinks they really need your expertise.
  3. Someone who really does need your expertise.
  4. Someone who needs your expertise by a certain date because of an outside event beyond their control, i.e. a major speech or TV appearance that is scheduled.
  5. Someone who has money budgeted for you expertise.
  6. Last and most important, someone who has money budgeted that does not come out of their own pocket.

For example, in my own niche of media training, let’s look at the following hypothetical prospect. James Travers is a 52-year-old trial attorney. He owns a 10-person law firm and nets one million dollars a year. He has the largest trial of his life and it will be launching in 4 weeks. He knows this trial will generate major TV and newspaper publicity, and likely multiple appearances on True TV as well as the major news networks. James really wants training because he knows he’s not as good in front of the camera as he is in front of a jury. And his peers have told him that he’s not great on camera. Finally, James has been planning for this moment and has, in fact, budgeted $7500 for media training this quarter.

This sounds like an ideal candidate for my services, right?

Wong! Wrong Wrong!

James is actually a horrible prospect. He has five out of the six traits of a great prospect, but he doesn’t have the 6th. Since James owns his own firm, any money he spends comes out of his own pocket. Any money he saves at the end of the year falls straight to his bottom line. So no matter how much James thinks he wants to hire me, he probably won’t because he has to think about how he can use that $7500 to take is family to Europe or for his kid’s college fund. Of course I will try to sell James on a less expensive public media training workshop once it becomes obvious that he doesn’t want to part with $7500 out of his own pocket. But there, James hubris will prevent him from being in training with other people and taking two days away from his practice rather than one day for private training. So there is an excellent chance that James is a total waste of a prospect for me.

If you don’t know the six factors you need in an ideal prospect, you will waste a lot of time chasing after the James of the world.

Of course there are many gurus who have niches that don’t depend on corporate budgets, but it sure is easier to find a niche that does meet the corporate market. Far better than James is the following example: Sarah Sanders is a 38-year-old product manager at a fortune 500 company. She makes $200k a year and is successful in her field. She is launching a new product in 2 months at a national trade association where there will be trade press. She wants media training before the interviews happen at the event. She contacts her training department. They don’t do in-house media training but they have $2.4 million a year they must spend on outside training vendors per year. I am contacted for a proposal and Sarah soon becomes a client. The $7500 for my fee does not in any way come out of Sarah’s pocket. Everything is in alignment.

Sarah was the ideal prospect; James was a horrible prospect.

Whatever your niche, it is critical that you understand who are your ideal prospects versus who only appears to be an ideal prospect but could be a time waster. Your niche might not be dependent on corporate training budgets like mind, but rest assured, you will have categories of good and bad prospects and the sooner you learn to differentiate them, the better.

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