A frequent question when people ask me about marketing and selling is how to target new business. There are lots of different ways to target new business. We explore one method in this short video (7 minutes) on Selling basics – Targeting with rabbits, deer and elephants. It’s a method that is particularly valued by my property clients – rabbits, deer and elephants!


Why do we need sales targeting?

If you don’t have a targeting method then selling becomes a bit like kissing frogs to find a prince – you spend a lot of time and energy, have lots of rather unpleasant experiences and it is unlikely that you will find your prince. Or ideal client.

Of course your marketing strategy should do the analysis to help you identify the relevant segments and personas.

There are lots of different ways to target new business – for example:

  • Analysing past and current clients and
    • identifying key features – or triggers and filters
    • identifying segments with common needs
    • developing personas that provide a thumb nail sketch of a typical buyer
  • You might use analytics from digital marketing efforts
  • Some use an aspect of the DMU (Decision-Making Unit) – like level of authority – for example, C-suite level or user department or procurement
  • Or maybe you are more reactive and look at who you already know and what’s in your pipeline

I like fishing – Robson Green is my hero – without targeting selling is kind of like putting a net somewhere in the water and hoping to catch a fish – but not knowing what kind. Compare this to taking a spear out to a specific stretch of water and identifying a particular fish to try to catch.

But today we are looking at rabbits, deer and elephants!


Rabbits represent small transactional deals – Possibly those worth a few thousand pounds. You can catch a rabbit in just a few days or weeks.

Rabbits are abundant – they are frisky and high energy and don’t take too much energy to catch. And you can go rabbit hunting on your own.

There’s instant gratification with rabbit hunting – it quickly puts food on the table today (apologies to my vegetarian and vegan viewers!).

But you need a high volume of these deals – you need to continue to catch a lot of rabbits every day to eat.


Deer are the mid-size deals – maybe worth tends of thousands of pounds. It will probably take you months to catch a deer.

You need less deer than rabbits as they feed you for a little while longer.

There’s often a more complex decision-making unit in a deer client. And it will probably need some planning and a strategy and a few people in the hunting party. A team-based approach to sales and selling.


Elephants are the large deals with complex decision-making units – but deals are often worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

There is often a rather long sales cycle too – the average for a B2B (Business-to-Business) sale is nine months. But elephants can take years.

For these you will need the whole tribe to help – possibly everyone in the firm – and over a long period of time. You’ll need lots of planning, research, co-ordination and patience.

What to consider when targeting

Think about the cost of sales. Often it is a similar investment to catch a few rabbits as one deer. So in the end the deer will turn out to be more profitable.

In professional services you can spend a lot of time pursuing new business – and that time is rarely recorded and managed and used as part of your calculations to look at ROI (Return on Investment) or the profitability of different types of clients or work.

Ideally, you need a blend of rabbits, deer and elephant targets. You need some quick wins (rabbits) to get cash in and larger clients (deer and elephants) that take longer to win but will generate more money and profit.

Sales pipeline and capacity planning

Analyse your sales pipeline or sales opportunity funnel to see how long it takes to progress from first contact to conversion. And your sales pipeline may be quite different depending on the service you are selling. Rabbits might only take one or two calls over a few weeks – deer might take a few months and elephants can take years. You can’t let the business starve of cash while you wait to land the larger deer and elephant deals.

You may also find that your more junior staff need to be kept busy with rabbit and deer deals while your more experienced (and expensive) staff need elephants to get their teeth into. No one likes being in the feast and famine cycle when you only do major deals – so ensure there are some rabbits and deer to smooth out the troughs.

So ideally you need a mix of targets – to balance effort and reward – and to have something on the table tonight to eat but also to prepare for a feast in the future

As a reminder – if you currently spend all your time chasing rabbits you should – perhaps – become more of a deer hunter (film)

The ideas of rabbits, deer and elephants links to another video I produced recently on managing your client portfolio with dinosaurs. You might recognise that the head clients are elephants, the body clients are deer and the rabbits are tail clients!

Thanks for watching and listening.

Other videos on marketing, selling and the psychology of business relationships are on the Kim Tasso RedStarKim YouTube channel.