From the Center for Strategic Relations, a twice-monthly supplement to Applying Strategic Relations, mailed at your request

Cultivating Qualified Response

It's been a busy month, so I'll be brief to let you get right into this lesson.

In the last lesson you learned about actions to take right now for measurable returns in marketing, today's lesson expands on that providing you one strategy that helps you generate qualified leads more quickly.

With the improvements you'll see in marketing gained through the last two lessons, what is the one thing sales should have done yesterday for better results today? Stay tuned to learn about it in the next lesson.


Justin Hitt
Consultant, Author & Speaker

Cultivating Interactions To Generate Qualified Leads More Quickly

By Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant,

Do you want more from your marketing while developing strong relationships that keep your solutions top of mind with qualified buyers? You may recall that interaction points are a place to educate or sell to your prospective customers.

In order to educate or sell, it's critical to understand what interests those buyers you want to attract. Most prospective buyers are only interested in their problems, desires, and objectives. To know what interest's buyers study your customers, become an expert on the problems solved by your solution.

Get Customers To Talk About Their Problems

Use your understanding of customers to design marketing materials, communications, and training for customer-facing employees that compel qualified buyers to express interest in your organization.This isn't new to anyone practicing response-based marketing, but it critical for developing relationship value.

What makes someone in your market place a qualified buyer? These individuals have specific problems, want certain results, or have certain events pending in their lives. More importantly, they are interested in solving a problem. Together these conditions create situations that serve as buying signals.

Perhaps your customer is a city manager of an older water treatment infrastructure that has fallen in disrepair (city cutbacks or what ever.) For this example, your company provides a line of bacteria filters that plug into central services replacing previous methods of water treatment for half the original cost.

Know That Most Prospective Buyers Don't Remember You

You've probably seen this city manager a hundred times at trade shows, they browse your ads, and may even use some of your solutions -- but when a water quality study cites them for a bacteria problem, what's the first thing on this city managers mind?

If you're the average company, you spend more then $1,279 per year per known prospect, plus the salaries of your sales and marketing teams who steadily seeking out these individuals.

However, when this city manager has a problem the only thing on their mind is fixing it, not your fancy brochure, or the give-a-ways at your latest trade show. The city manager will first get together a team to create a request for proposal (RFP); this team includes industry experts, consultants, internal experts, and trusted advisors.

The "bacteria problem" presents a situation, and unless you've already positioned yourself as a valued resource, you aren't likely to be involved in RFP creation, nor will you have a chance to justify a purchase without bid.

Give Prospects No Choice But To Contact You First

For best results, once you've identified the specific solutions your prospects want that your solution can remedy then reduce the number of options available to them.

If you took the right actions (one of which you'll discover here) the only choice this city manager sees is to call your organization to solve the problem quickly. Why do you want to reduce the number of options available to your ideal buyers at the time of their "situation"?

Yes, this is contrary to logic, but think about the last time you faced a difficult problem -- isn't it harder to decide exactly what to do when you have too many choices?

Your prospective buyer should only have one choice: that choice is to contact your organization to learn more about how your solutions solve their specific problem. So without a huge marketing budget, how can you be top-of-mind when ideal prospects are ready to buy?

Be Everywhere Prospects Look For Solutions

When you understand your customers, you understand how they look for solutions. Before a situation backs anyone who may buy your solution into a corner, position your company at every interaction point with valuable tools to educate or sell them.

If this city manager picked up truly educational resources at your trade shows (instead of the key chain flash light you gave out last year), and if marketing offered tools that help make decisions, then guess who they would call?

There isn't the space to share all the ways to understand which interaction points are available for your specific solution. However, for the greatest impact, study where your customers look for answers, these interactions are where you'll want to start.

Choose tools and resources that only prospective buyers would request. Because, if you provide value to prospects in a way that qualifies their interest in your solution, then your leads are better qualified and follow-on by sales is more likely to correspond with a need for your solution.

Know What Tools Will Get Buyers To Say They're Interested

For this city manger offering any of the following at interaction points would position your company as a valued asset, examples include:

Selling complex solutions is very demand driven, that's why relationships are so critical. Who does a customer do business with (a) the most readily accessible provider, or (b) the one who they trust because they have provided value in the past?

In 9 out of 10 cases, even when other solution is available, a prospective buyer will contact the company who has helped them make better decisions. Perhaps your competitors are equally as smart, how do you get an unfair advantage over them?

While there are many ways to position you as a valued asset, here is more on that strategy promised earlier.

Positioning Not Promotion Creates Buying Relationships

You can create an unfair advantage over your competition by placing at each interaction points a tool that only people facing problems you can solve would request. Even if prospects know about your competitors, you'll know about their interest first when these tools help them:

By creating tools that qualify prospect and help them with the buying process you are more likely to know of their interests before someone else. Provide these tools at points of interaction using response based marketing to get qualified buyers to express their interest.

Use information captured when prospects request these tools to compare them against qualified buyer and profitable customer characteristics (to determine the likelihood of an individual to take action.) Then create urgency with follow-on communications with these prospects to get them to move to the next step.

By educating prospects in this way, at interaction points, you qualify buyers as they move towards a solution. The more you understand your customers, the more possible interaction points you'll find to position "tools" that only qualified buyers would request.

While there are many ways to stay top-of-mind, response based methods are most cost effective and have the highest potential for relationship development (positioning you are a valued asset.) Create at least one tool this week -- then get with customers to improve its value before making it available to prospective buyers.

What kind of tool could you offer your market place that would qualify prospective buyers?

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