Your Prospects are Now Invisible
1. Realize that the way prospects buy has changed
The Internet has ushered in a new revolution in the way that your prospects buy. Since they can now find a vast amount of information on just about any topic, they start their buying process on the web. And, not only do they start their process on the web, they also form their opinion about which vendors are worth pursuing. If you are either absent from the web, or have a thin amount of information, you have a high probability of not making their short list. This could mean that your sales people may never be contacted for sales that your business deserves.
It is true. Studies show that a full 70% of the sales cycle now goes on without contacting the sales force. It is imperative that you take the steps to make sure you are found, and, more importantly, valued. You must engage your prospects before your competition does.
2. You need a message
If prospects are going to research their purchase before they contact you, what do you need to do? The first step is to create the message and content that they want to see. Ask yourself, if I was a prospect, what would I like to see to help me make my purchase decision. For some, this may mean some deeper information about your capabilities. For others, this may mean articles about how to improve the prospects use of your products. And for others, this may mean that you are a resource for the improvement of something in their business. Remember, the more interest they have, the more likely they are to become a future customer.
I do want to remind you that pictures of your products, or a list of features is often not enough. When your sales people visit prospects, is that all they offer? You need to convince them as to why they should do business with you. You have a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge and competency of your organization. You can also show them why your offering is better than the competition. I have seen where some companies have crystallized the value of their unique features, which later helped to exclude their competition from the process.
Always think about prospects and their needs first. Your message needs to be lean and uncluttered with items that don’t directly pertain to what they are interested in. Solve their problems and you will see the results in your organization.
3. You need to get that message out
One of the most important vehicles to carry your message on the Internet is your website. Once you have constructed your message and content, make sure it is clearly portrayed on your website. Your visitors should be able to find the answers they seek, and the navigation should be clear. Above all else, remember that your website is no longer just a bill board for your company, but a resource to attract your research-intensive prospects. You will also need to become familiar with how to rank in the search engines, and how to inexpensively advertise your site. Look for information on these topics in later articles.
Yet another good vehicle to carry your message is your email system. You can start with your current customer list and quickly add new prospects (see 4. Below). Once you have the permission to contact prospects by email, you have inside access that cannot be duplicated elsewhere. However, remember that people can declare your email to be spam if they don’t like the content. Do not use this channel as a way to pound prospects with sales only materials. You will find your access denied, which is impossible to reconnect.
Lately, more and more prospects are also using social media to find information and to check vendor performance. It is a good idea to use this channel to publish some of your content. Great places include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and others. You can also find industry specific forums and discussion groups which can be a great place to publish knowledge content. Remember, however, that being too salesy can also ban you from these sites.
4. Give your prospects a reason to register with you
Yet another key aspect of creating great messages and content is that you can enlist prospects to offer their contact information in return for more of your future content, or for some other offer. For example, some people send knowledge articles that are good enough that people sign up to receive more. In another example, companies have offered samples, or tips, or free stuff to obtain the contact information.
The value of the contact information is that it allows you to stay in touch with the prospect (willingly). With continued compelling content, they can eventually become a valued customer.
5. Capture your contacts into your CRM system
A CRM system offers several benefits to your revenue building efforts. First, it provides a place where everything about your prospect can be stored. Names, contacts, habits, descriptions and just about anything else can be stored conveniently by the prospect. You can also list and control tasks that you want to do for the prospect. Want to call them next week? Want to send them a proposal on Tuesday? These and many other tasks can be scheduled, and executed without error.
You can directly connect your website to your CRM system with a few simple landing pages that can be created in your eBusiness module.
6. Follow all your activities of each prospect in your CRM system
One of the most important aspects of a CRM system in the sales cycle is the tracking of where the prospect is in the buy cycle. Have they received the materials on specifications? Have they seen the benefits list of your product? Has their boss approved the purchase? You have complete knowledge of everything that has transpired, or should transpire.
7. Nurture the prospect down the buy cycle with more relevant content
Let’s face it, not every prospect is ready to buy at this exact moment. They may be currently satisfied, or just not ready to buy that item. However, the chances are extremely high that they will buy at some time in the future. And how valuable would it be if you were first in their mind when they were ready to buy?
Tracking prospects in your CRM system allows you to continuously feed them valuable information that keeps your business in their mind. When the time is right, you will have the best position.
8. Give your existing customers personalized access to your business
The easiest way to keep current customers is to make it easy to do business with you. And, the best way to make it easy to do business with you is to create a personalized communications area for each customer. Not only can they send you personalized communications, but also self-find documents, self-order products, and share other information. Many companies also offer an eCommerce system to allow ordering service parts or products without the time consuming phone process.
9. Analyze, update, re-execute
As with any other process throughout your business, success depends on measurement of that process. Customer acquisitions also demand insights into each step of the buying process. Analytics are available (free and paid), that can help you to identify processes that are not working, so you can improve that process with other techniques.
10. Win more business!
The end result of this process is to provide more revenues on a more consistent basis. You will reach prospects that may have missed your radar all together, and be more effective with all your prospects in general.
WorkWise is an ERP solution provider for mid-sized manufacturers. We provide software and knowledge-based consulting to achieve results within your organization. WorkWise provides CRM, eBusiness, website construction, and the knowledge to help you to a rising path of new revenues.