What’s the secret to engaging target prospects? Even after you identify your ideal customer, discover where they spend their time, and identify the best channels and formats on which to reach them, there’s still much work to be done. Capturing a prospect’s attention is merely the first step in actually making the sale: the top of the sales funnel.
It’s at this precipice that the gears typically switch from marketing to sales. Marketing consists of all the legwork that goes into figuring out who the target customer is and developing strategies for capturing prospects. But once you capture a prospect, it becomes a sales process, rather than a lead generation process. This is a critical phase in business development, as success ultimately hinges on whether the prospects generated by marketing are actually converted to customers by sales.
So once you generate those leads and get those prospects, how do you keep them? We asked several sales and marketing thought leaders for their number one secret to engaging target prospects. Here, they reveal their secrets.
Barry Maher, Author, Consultant, and Speaker, Barry Maher & Associates
“The easiest way to engage prospects and then to keep them as customers couldn't be more obvious or more often ignored. It's simply this: Make people feel important. Every company in the world knows customers are important, yet, as customers, how important do we feel when dealing with these companies?
“Often, isn't it more like that infamous phone message: ‘Because we value your business, please continue to hold.’ With all the talk about customer service, and with all the blather about customer-centric companies, making people feel important is still the easiest and the cheapest way to differentiate your business from the competition.”
Deb Owen, Owner, Percorso, LLC
“Nine out of 10 people want meaningful relationships with brands, but believe only 17% of those brands are delivering. What's emerging in the marketing sphere goes beyond old-guard tactics of producing products that work and focusing on emotional needs. The new desire of consumers includes a sense of connection. This sense of connection and engagement comes from transcending the brand promise, and beginning to communicate a deeply held purpose behind the brand.
“People also want to see a demonstration of resources being used in a business to drive change in the world. Throw in an invitation to participate in the creation of products and services, and a business will have set itself far beyond the crowd. It's basically this: Be human. Be real. Convey a sense of purpose and service to the world. Interact. Listen.”
Rick Carlson, CEO and Founder of SharpSpring
“In order to successfully engage sales prospects, you need to have a clear idea of what they want and need. Forming a unified, real-time view of the customer within the context of today’s multi-channel marketing landscape is the key challenge facing today’s marketer. The solution to this challenge is integrated marketing automation that combines call tracking, web tracking, and CRM. Prospects today might fill out a form in an online display ad, dial an 800 number they saw in a Google search listing, click through to your website based on something they saw on Facebook, or respond to an email you sent them. How these prospects respond -- the keywords that get their attention, the pages they visit on your website -- all tell us something about them.
“An integrated, automated marketing solution that combines web tracking, call tracking, and CRM provides a clear, unified view of today’s business prospect in real time. Website visits, keyword searches, phone calls, and web form data are aggregated and analyzed to create a detailed profile of the customer, providing sales reps with the information they need to engage prospects proactively, efficiently, and effectively.”
Anthony Kirlew, Co-Founder, Imagine WOW!
“As a long time business consultant and digital marketing expert, my number one secret to engaging target prospects is to find out where they are currently engaging on social media and connect with them there. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes companies make in social media marketing is sharing the wrong message to the wrong audience.
“Once you get them, you can keep them engaged by digging deeper into finding what questions and problems they have and provide answers and solutions. You can also create niche online communities to serve their needs, thus further gaining their loyalty, as well as their referrals.”
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW, Brand Strategist & Career Coach, CareerPolish.com
“My ‘secret’ for engaging target prospects is to talk with them, not to them, in an authentic, transparent, and respectful manner. No matter what your industry, expertise, widget, or offer -- you have competition. This creates a selling environment, but people do not want to be sold on something. They want and expect a level of value from you.
“The way I keep my clients: Respect and deliver. It is stated on the company website, and I tell every prospect this as well: I do not tell you want you want to hear, I tell you what you need to hear. This is in line with the authenticity and transparency; I continue to deliver on this after engagement. I also love the phrase, ‘under promise and over deliver.’ This is something that I strive for with every client.”
Michael Radcliffe, User Engagement Ninja, CellBreaker.com
“When I am engaging prospective customers, I always respect their humanity first. Yes, you should strive to please them, but not at the expense of downplaying their ability to understand you or your product. They want this relationship to work as much as you do. Instead of trying to pitch something to them, put all that effort into connecting to and understanding the potential customer.”
Remember, it’s not just about getting prospects, but keeping them engaged once you capture their interest. Implementing these tips and strategies will help your sales and marketing teams move prospects through the sales funnel.