People come into your life for a season, a reason, or a lifetime. This is true not only for people in your life, but for prospects and customers for your company.
And your company will probably touch people’s lives in the same way - for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
This means that not all customer relationships will turn into a lead, a sale, a testimonial, a support customer. Sometimes, a prospect could turn into an influencer. Or a prospect could stay a prospect, as someone who likes your product and recommends it to colleagues so they can champion the sale. Or a prospect is part of a product evaluation team and will never use your product. Or a prospect could buy your product, become a customer, love using your product and become your best support agent on a forum or write your most used testimonial.
Not all prospects and customers are equal and they shouldn't be treated equally. Sure, treat all prospects and customers with friendliness and warmth, but you don’t need to immediately funnel someone into a lead path or expect them to buy. Again, some prospects will be a connection for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
I think companies need to accept that it’s natural for prospects to to do this. This is what it means to have a target market. Not everyone will have problems that your company can solve, or the solution isn’t exactly what they had in mind to help them for whatever reason. And that is ok.
What’s more important tha this is the relationship the company has with this individual.
We focus our businesses so much on doing, on activities to work towards a goal, and that goal is usually purchasing. We create or document buyer or customer journeys that outline actions and decisions. But is that the only goal in business?
There is a great piece of art at the Dallas Entrepreneur Center about business being about socializing, or conversations.
Deals are made by exchanging ideas and bringing a prospect or customer along with you in your communication.
Clicking on links or reading pieces of content doesn’t drive a deal. Sure, customers are now doing more research online than ever before, reading up to 11 pieces of content before talking to a salesperson. In response, marketing departments created content marketing. Was that the right solution for the wrong problem?
To me, the problem that has always existed in the background is that sales people were and still can be too overwhelming, overly driven to make someone purchase. People don’t like pressure, so in turn, they answered their questions on their own. They decided to build a relationship only when they were ready.
And who would blame them? The sales experience could be related to the dating world where you go to a bar to not find a date, but to go steady after a conversation and a drink. Not just who wants that? Who NEEDS that? It’s insane.
Sadly, in marketing, the focus continues on turning someone into a lead. Shouldn’t marketing and sales think bigger? I remember as a kid hearing how sales people would see everyone as helping them in their business. This means that not everyone is a lead. Someone may lead you to a lead, knowing someone who may need your product. Or someone may have a service that helps your company. Or in 6 months, that person could suggest your company and product to someone.
What we sometimes miss when we are so focused on turning leads is introductions and opportunities to build relationships with those who can help you by helping them. By focusing on the lead process and selling a product or creating product only, you are missing out on the potential of a new business relationship. This person is a prospect - not just a prospect for a sale, a way to get a lead, or another role - this person offer a prospective business relationship. Explore where it could go and don’t limit your view to sales. There’s more to business than your bottom line.
I propose taking a step back and working on the higher level goal - developing a relationship with your prospect. Through the customer relationship lifecycle, rather than a defined journey path, which is important, figure out what the relationship should look like at different parts of the cycle. Determine what it will take to go to the next step of the process. Consider what’s needed to make a decision. And if someone doesn't go to the next step, that's ok. They don't have to; the relationship is more important.
Customer Relationship Lifecycle
By going away from the focus being on leads, focus instead on how you can help this person, get to know that person and let him know what you do, get to know the problems you solve. Shift the interaction from lead generation to making business being socializing with purpose. Be helpful to others. Create a relationship.
Build a relationship with that person who may be in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Who knows what it will bring - and that’s the joy of building relationships with customers.