Yes, You Should Care About Leads: An Intro to Sales and the Buying Process for Small Biz
Whether you are a PR pro or small biz owner, understanding who your buyers are is important so you can provide them with relevant content. What are their information needs? How can you satisfy those needs? Today, we’ll go over the basics of targeting your marketing to build your database of clients and prospects.
According to Jeff Ernst, a principal analyst from Forrester, lead management is critical for businesses. A lead is the identification of a person that has the interest to purchase a product or service from you. Think about all of the aspects of your small business. You market to your prospects and current customers online. You distribute press releases for SEO and for media pick-up. You blog to become a thought leader in your industry. But are you doing everything you can to make sales? This is where leads come into play. Leads can be people who mention you positively on social media, people who download your content, or who make an inquiry about your product or service. Once you find these people, it’s important to archive their information and start building a relationship with them now to secure their business or their advocacy.
Buyers have changed. They are more empowered than ever before. They spend more time researching products online before purchasing. Think about it: when you hear about a product, what is the primary way you learn more about it? You log on, do a search through Google or perhaps ask a friend on Facebook. People are starting at an earlier point in the process than marketers are used to reaching them. Go where your customers are and answer their questions.
The buying process is about solving problems. Buyers buy into your approach to solve their problems, not your product. Ernst explains the consumer buying process process using the model below. These are the steps someone may go through when making the decision to buy from you:
- Define requirements
- Identify possible solutions
- Build business case
- Compare alternatives
- Make decision
- Acquire solution components
- Measure and share results
- Participate in communities and user groups
- Adopt & use solution
- Learn about approaches
- Gain commitment to change
- Understand problem/opportunity
Figure out where your prospects are in the buying process and pay attention to their needs. Do they need more information? Do they need a value proposition? Is it time to pitch your product? Or should you build a relationship first because it’s early in the cycle?
Be willing to meet customers earlier on in the buying process so you aren’t left behind. As a small business owner, it’s important to understand this process so you handle leads more effectively. As a PR pro, it’s good to be in the know of how the process works so your actions can be aligned with your client’s goals.
(Photo Credit – Flickr Creative Commons: borman818)
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