What Are They?
Simply put, a Lead (or a buyer, or a prospect) is someone with the need for your services or products. Leads may find you through many channels. A lead may be a former customer, or someone you’ve never heard of or worked with before.
Why Are They Important?
Leads are the foundation of your business. They offer new opportunities and revenue streams. They feed the sales funnel of your business, and offer you the opportunities to grow into new markets. They’re why you’re reading this. And there is nothing more important than nurturing fresh business relationships to sustain and grow your shop. But the Web has changed a lot of things over the past 15 years. And one of the most subtle but important of these changes is the definition of what a ‘lead’ is.
Prior to the Web, buyers (or leads) had to contact the seller in order to get the information they needed. Think of how we bought a car pre-Internet – we had to contact the dealer to get the information we wanted about a given car. The dealer (or seller) was in complete control of the information – he controlled all the info about colors, gear ratio, options, price, taxes, the works – and we (the lead) had to identify ourselves in order to get what we needed.
But today, the Web has turned that model on its head. Today, the buyer (lead) gets the information needed and then chooses to identify herself. Or not.
These new ‘stealth prospects’ are the new leads – they look for the suppliers they need online without identifying themselves until they decide to, and to whom they decide. They’re different from the leads in consumer markets. They take longer to research And these new habits & preferences are why your Website, being found and being remembered & recognized are critical to the health of your business today.
Key Elements & Considerations:
Leads are often in various states of urgency when looking for sources:
They may be preparing for a new project or new product line
They may be under duress, looking to replace a failed current supplier or correct quality deficiencies (supply chain disruption)
They may be looking to expand their stable of captive or available suppliers with specific capabilities
They may be investigating moving production from a low-cost country
Leads for machining partners can no longer be assumed to be ready to buy when they contact you, nor can they be assumed to be ‘lost’ if they don’t buy from you after first contact
In recent years, the technical expertise of buyers and procurement specialists have shifted from strong technical knowledge about the applications and equipment you use to more of a project management, purchasing position. Since they know less about RAM EDM, 5-axis machining, and elliptical grinding, it is critical for you to present specific examples of what you’ve done for others that include what you did that saved a customer money or time. And to explain those strengths in terms that less technically-experienced folks can understand
It is also critical to create follow-up opportunities and reminders for the leads and prospects you get through your marketing strategies – business through the Web often comes unexpectedly, and from unexpected sources. Your marketing efforts should include mechanisms that make remembering you easier for a lead in need