If today were the day you decided to buy a new car, would you go into the showroom with a make and model in mind? You probably would, and you would likely feel impatient with a seller who didn’t take the time to ask you what brought you into the dealership and listen to your answer. If the seller insisted on showing you rugged trucks and sedate minivans when you came in with dreams of a sporty little roadster, you would look around for another seller – or you might just walk out.
Every time businesses try to guess what their leads want instead of learning the real facts, they risk alienating the people they most want to impress. Discover what your leads want from you, and you’re on the way to earning their business.
One of your best sources of knowledge for what your future customers want is your current customer base. Chances are good that your leads’ demographic and firmographic profiles will resemble those your customers already have. If your current customer base is within 150 miles of you, follows the same seasonal patterns, and belongs to the same industry, it’s a safe bet that your leads will also share those characteristics. Analyzing your customer database to see what your customers have in common and which characteristics are most predictive of sales will tell you a great deal about where to find valuable leads.
Looking at your customer records is only part of the picture. You also need to know more about how your leads interact with you. Tracking traffic stats is an important part of the discovery process, and with improved tools such as marketing automation software, you can learn much more from analytics than you used to. Finding out which links leads used to reach you, analyzing time spent on each page, tracking their next moves on your site, monitoring downloads and sign-ups – it all adds up to a nuanced picture of buying behavior. Over time, you develop an increasingly clear idea of what differentiates browsers from buyers and leads who need more nurturing from those who are sales-ready.
Hit the Target Market
Data rarely arrives in complete, detailed sets. Usually, you encounter it piece by piece, learning an email address here and a company name there, until a lead converts to a buyer – and even then, you may have gaps in records. Data enhancement helps you fill in the blanks with access to verified third-party information. Instead of seeing a few islands of information in a Bermuda Triangle of missing data, you get more complete records that give you a far clearer picture of your leads.
Businesses that use social media only to speak are missing half the conversation. Social listening – paying attention to what your leads are talking about and tuning into the conversation without dominating it –teaches you a lot about what’s important to your prospects. Only when you give leads space to talk will you hear what you want to know, so keep social media conversations light on advertising and rich with shareable, comment-worthy content.
What Do Leads Want? Just Ask Them
Sometimes the simplest solution is the most direct one. Ask your leads what they need from you with an email response form, survey, or preference page, and you can get outstanding feedback. Surveys and questionnaires get better response rates when you offer an incentive such as a discount or gated content for filling it out. Keep incentives small and relevant to encourage meaningful responses without creating white noise from visitors who are not viable leads.
Combined with your other sources of knowledge, you can all but eliminate guessing games with your leads.
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