Just as there isn’t a fast and easy way to lose weight or get rich, there is no secret formula for building pipeline, regardless of what some “marketing gurus” would have you believe. It takes hard work, perseverance, a blend of art and science, smart people, and good products. It may sound daunting, but this is good news for you. If there were a silver bullet for building pipeline, then anyone could do it. Marketing departments around the world would cease to be, replaced by computer programs to execute the formula.
So what should you be doing to get more qualified leads?
1. Empathize with your audience
It’s not enough to just “know” your audience. You need to get into their hearts and minds, and truly understand what makes them tick. What is their pain? What keeps them up at night? What would make them truly proud of their work? What would get them promoted? Figure that out, and make sure that everyone in your organization, from product development to marketing to sales to customer service lives and breathes your customer. To embrace this concept, consider hiring from the industries or audiences that you serve. Spend significant time with your customers. Organize around your audience – by product line, campaign, sales team – and make every touch point and communication relevant.
2. Be helpful
We hear all the time about delivering the “right message at the right time to the right audience.” Sure, but what does that really mean? It means that once you truly understand what your audience needs and when they need it, you are there to provide.
It’s also being there for your customers and prospects even before they are looking for your products. Anyone can provide product information when it’s requested. The ideal is to provide helpful information, guidance, tools, and opinions at every stage of consideration. Maybe we could change the mantra of “Always Be Selling” to “Always Be Helping”. Think of how that might change the dynamic of your prospect and customer interactions. I know I’d rather work with a company that is trying to help me to succeed without feeling like I’m being sold to at every turn.
3. Be authentic
It starts with being truly honest about your product. What does it do better than anyone else? What is it great at? What can you do to truly make your customers’ work/life/business successful? And be honest, what is it only marginally good at? Where does it still need work? Where does it just not quite fit? Be honest with yourself and your customers, and start by only making promises you can truly deliver. But authenticity isn’t just about product. It’s about what your company truly stands for and believes. It’s also about the quality of the interactions that representatives of your brand have with customers and prospects.
Your company’s social media presence is your greatest opportunity for authentic and timely interactions with your audience. We’ve all seen examples of cringe-inducing social media blunders by companies, many caused by the attempt to automate social media interactions. Social media is about real people talking with other real people in real time. Scheduled promotional pushes of your latest offer or blog post are fine in moderation, but the real value for your company and your audience is in the actual discussions that take place between humans.
4. Be trustworthy
Are there ways that you can get 10,000 Twitter followers overnight? Sure. Can you build a database of 500,000 names within a week? Of course you can. But will those contacts be truly engaged with your brand, and eventually buy? Probably not. People buy from companies and brands that they trust, and that trust is earned by fulfilling promises, not by trickery. Every interaction that your company has with a prospect and customer is an opportunity to earn that trust.
How can you do that?