Being 'First in mind'

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Because the Internet has changed buying behavior forever, companies must enhance sales and marketing processes to be first in mind with prospects and customers.

Being first in mind means engaging prospects before the actual selling process begins, when they are just looking you over. Perhaps they'll need what you offer later, as they grow their business. If so, you'll need to remain first in mind until they are ready to buy.

You must also endeavor to be first in mind with your customers. Do not assume that if you don't hear from customers, its good news — it's not. Certainly it's cheaper to sell into an existing customer base than to find new customers. It's important to continue to engage customers over time.

Being first in mind with leads, prospects and customers means maximizing your sales and marketing resources and your revenue.

To do this, stay visible to prospects: Monitor what is happening in their business that might initiate a search for your products and services. Drop e-mails with interesting case studies on how similar companies saved time and money with your offerings.

Technologies and expertise can help you target interested parties so your sales team will be better prepared to engage prospects and customers.

Being first in mind is an ongoing process. If you continually interact throughout the buy cycle, you will improve results. Minimize lead loss by nurturing leads through the process to ensure more prospects end up buying from you.

There are two aspects to minimizing lead loss and maximizing your ability to remain first in mind with prospects — tracking and identifying leads and opportunities, and outbound interaction with the prospect.

Once leads are generated, it is critical to prioritize them so hot leads go immediately to sales and others are scored for appropriate actions.

If nurtured properly, when the prospect is ready to buy, your company is most likely to be first in mind. With customers, it takes not only great customer service, but helping them learn how other companies are successful using your products and services. You should have visibility into each customer. What they like and don't about your specific products. When is the customer's contract up for renewal?

Do you have an extranet that's easy for your customers to access? Do you track what they do on your Web site and immediately store it in their customer record?

Being first in mind is not about having the best automation or technology. Although technology can help, it's not the end goal. Being first in mind is about results. It's a combination of marketing, sales, technology and processes that in total drive the desired results.

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