No matter how strong a product offering is, or how much of a sure thing it appears to be, if your company can't find customers, then you can't make sales. Sales come from qualified leads, and qualified leads come from your company adopting a strong marketing strategy. The focus is simple: Define what your company considers to be a qualified lead, locate those qualified leads and then close them.
Far too many companies get bogged down in pursuit of their target audience. Far too many get caught in a never-ending cycle of aimlessly searching for customers. Instead of identifying those customers most likely to make a purchase, they focus all their efforts in pursuit of anyone, anywhere. After all, who wouldn't want to buy this incredible product? Ultimately, that's the problem: Instead of asking who wouldn't buy your product, you need to ask yourself who is most likely to buy your product.
Without clearly defining what you consider to be a qualified lead, your marketing will never be able to increase your opportunities to make sales. Ultimately, you'll never be able to capitalize on your "can't miss" opportunity. It begs the question: What must your company do to ensure that you don't fall into this vicious cycle of randomly searching for customers?
Taking Charge of Your Marketing
- First, there is a big difference between generating a lead and generating a qualified lead. Any marketing plan can generate interest in a product, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll win business. There's no use hearing how good your product is if nobody is willing to buy it. They may be leads, but are they qualified to purchase? Do they meet the criteria? Are they more or less likely to purchase? Answer these three questions and you'll be one step closer to defining what you consider to be a qualified lead.
- Second, these qualified leads are often different from one company to the next. Granted, you and your competitor may pursue similar prospects. However, your company's success is dependent upon dialing into the qualities of your ideal prospect, the one most likely to buy your specific product and the one less likely to buy your competitor's. What differentiates your product from your competitor's and who would buy your product because of that differentiating factor?
- Third, without clearly defining what you consider to be a qualified lead, you'll forever be behind the proverbial eight ball. Your marketing will never produce results because you will have never defined how to measure those results. In essence, defining what you consider to be a qualified lead for your product is the first step in marketing your product. When it comes to marketing, nothing is more important than you defining your ideal prospect. Once you've done that, you can move forward to marketing that product to your target audience.
Defining Qualified Leads in Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) Markets
So, what are some of the criteria you should consider when trying to define a qualified lead? Well, it all comes down to the type of market and industry your company operates in. In order to help, we'll outline some general guidelines with respect to a B2B and B2C market.
B2C Markets: Ultimately, a B2C market is defined by specific customer segments. These segments could relate to age, sex, ethnicity, social standing, language and or culture. These segments are always impacted by recent trends and changing customer preferences. Ultimately, a consumer wants to know how your product will benefit them personally. In this case, you must focus on the product's benefits by immediately defining its unique selling points.
B2B Markets: In a B2B market, a qualified lead is defined by several factors. These might include the customer's credit worthiness, their financial standing, their geographical location, the size of the company, the type of products they purchase, the products they sell to their own customers, the price of your offering and any unique differentiating factors that makes them more or less likely to purchase your product. A B2B customer wants to know how your product will help them and their business. Focus on how your product will improve the customer's results, lower their costs through cost-per-use benefits and/or improve their operational efficiency.
Again, it's all about defining what your company considers to be a qualified lead. Most companies ignore this critical first step. Instead of targeting specific prospects, they end up pursuing too large a market. Their marketing never produces the types of leads that end up as customers. Your focus should be to define your ideal prospect, target them with a proactive marketing plan and then have your sales convert those prospects into customers.
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