In the customer lifecycle, the prospective customer begins to become aware and to form a picture of your company — hazy at first, then solidified by what they discover and experience. A lot of the information that customers absorb — and a lot of the opinions that customers form — are in place before any representative of your company has a personal interaction with that prospect.
Awareness Today Is Driven by the Customer’s Social Strategies
Today’s “social prospect” is less interested in print ads, tv spots, and glossy billboards than in peer conversations and reviews, communities, and Google searches. They are having conversations amongst themselves online and in social media. They ask around or look around at Facebook, Twitter, or on Google+. They order your ebook; they look at discussions on Quora, or in their LinkedIn Groups. They are making decisions on their own about what they want to buy. They expect to talk to companies on whatever channel they choose — and they expect a relevant conversation.
It’s right here that opportunities abound, and right here that a lot of opportunities are lost. Unless you are listening socially, finding out about your prospects, delving into what questions they need answered, and learning how you can enter the conversation to help and guide them, then they have no reason to value your brand over others.
These early forays into the conversation are a foundation on which to earn their business, an authentic way to build confidence. If you can build trust, allay concerns, and inspire confidence at this stage, then together you can build a mutually beneficial relationship with a sale somewhere along the path.
Broad Strokes of the Awareness Stage:
- Ask questions
Offer unselfish guidance
Be present, consistently
How Nimble Helps:
Import prospects and their companies into Nimble
Walk through their profile — see them in rich detail (who do they follow, what are they interested in, who follows them) — get to know them
Follow your prospects on social channels
Research them and their company
Politely reach out to connect and engage — and offer assistance, insights, thought leadership
Track the relationship and follow up, weigh in, keep connected
Use Nimble’s Last Contacted and Recently Contacted features so no relationships slip through the cracks
This is where the personal brand is perhaps most important — in establishing credibility, offering thought leadership, keeping a dynamic connection, and presenting solutions. Sharing commonalities establishes intimacy and trust. Be open, be genuine, be trustworthy.
Onward Through the Lifecycle
Business is about meeting needs in a professional, scalable manner.Your relationships are a step in the process — the crucial step that keeps the door open. Once that relationship is viable, you can then move forward. When the prospect becomes a customer, you can:
Manage the implementation of your service or product
Begin to deepen the relationship
Educate and train — show that you have the ability to solve their needs
The field is clear at this point to build a sense of community, include customers in an advisory capacity, and build loyalty and trust. This rich soil of satisfaction and mutual respect is the basis of continuing toward advocacy and evangelism, including referrals, cross-promotional activities, and a sense of partnership. The complete cycle can only occur if you are present and active when prospects become aware.
Part 2 will cover how to engage with the New Customer.