Portrait of a Prospect in 2013

They’ll start without you.

By the time your sales team knows about them, a customer can be halfway through the research process and on their way to a buying decision. A good case for salespeople participating earlier on sites and channels where your customers might be delving and gathering information and opinions (forums, Quora, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn groups…) Find out where the decision makers hang out — there are more resources every day where they can be talking about you. You want the information they have to be correct and comprehensive. They are the puck. Go where the puck is.

A lot of them will be Millennials.

Millennials sleep with their smartphones. They live on their mobile devices.  By 2020, most of your customers and half the workforce will be a whole new generation. They’re tech savvy multitaskers with a need for speed.

They’ll sample free trials. All of them.

They’re not fickle; customers today are just practical. They’ll look at and test out all your competitors right along with your free trial. Cloud-based apps can come and go in their lives with hardly a ripple. More reason than ever to keep the product team busy innovating and listening to what current customers are asking for. Another good reason for an emphasis on great service and support. One of the first features you should cement — make it easy and fast to import their data.

They’ll talk about you in public.

And not just information they got from your advocates, either. They’ll talk to trolls, too. This is why you need to be present to monitor and respond wherever they are talking about you. Your entire team should watch over the social world, read what’s written about you, and know how to engage — because now one negative tweet can have the impact radius of a huge meteor.

They’ll talk to their peers and treat the conversation like expert advice.

Peer advice and reviews continue to be a valued source of information for your prospects. And don’t forget those Quora questions… show up and respond. Comment. Make the offer to help. It won’t be forgotten, because it’s still rare enough to really matter.

They’ll pay more for great service and support.

Customers expect service and support quickly. Who has time to wait days for a response? They want self-service options on your website, too. If they don’t get responsive, consistent service, they’ll move on. If they do get great support, they are willing to pay more for it — and tell others about it. Proving that you are customer focused — at the beginning of a relationship — is a very robust competitive advantage.

Customers expect more. And why  not? We live in a time where soon our cars will drive themselves, and there will be robot nurses!

Photo credit: tannjuska / 123RF Stock Photo


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