Deliver a Great Experience to All Prospects, Including Those that Don’t Buy


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For sure, increasing sales productivity is a good thing. Marketing organizations are putting in place systems and tools to generate and score leads, so that reps can focus on more qualified prospects.

However, even in the best case scenario reps will not close every opportunity. Some customers may not have a need to buy now. Others may have a need, but they may select another alternative. A CSO Insights study found average win rates of about 45% in 2011, a five point drop from 2006.

So the key question is: What kind of sales experience are you delivering to all of your prospects—including those that weren’t qualified or didn’t buy? This is important because, whether a prospect buys or not, their experience interacting with your company will create a lasting impression. A good experience means they may return another day, when they have needs that match your solutions. Or, they’ll recommend your company to a colleague. Either way, that helps increase revenue productivity.

For example, last year I was looking for software to support my online community Over the course of a couple of weeks, I searched for solutions, interacted with vendor web sites and engaged with several sales reps by email and phone. To most of the vendors I was just another not-very-valuable small business buyer. And I was treated accordingly, no doubt thanks to some nifty lead scoring algorithms that have become de rigueur for B2B marketers.

Unfortunately, these vendors probably didn’t factor into their scoring that my posts on CustomerThink reach an audience of 80,000 visitors per month. Or, that I have colleagues in the publishing business that are also potential buyers. And what do you know, shortly after my buying experiences, an industry colleague asked me for advice on similar tools, and I was only too happy to share my recommendations. Privately.

Bottom line: While I may not have been scored or treated as a valuable prospect, I was valuable in other ways—as an influencer. And many of your prospects are, too.

The point of lead scoring is to assess the value of the prospect to you—the seller—so you can make the best use of your resources. Let’s flip this idea around. What I’m advocating is that you spend time to really understand how your prospects—all of them—perceive their experience with your brand. From the initial web search to interacting with your web site to engaging with inside or field sales reps, all of these touchpoints form an impression and influence their likelihood to buy or recommend.

Start by assessing your current customer and prospect experiences. Look for opportunities to get prospect feedback using web analytics and feedback solutions. You could even hire “mystery prospects” to take on different personas representing buyers, influencers, researchers, etc.

The prospect experience used to be mainly face-to-face interactions. Then it moved to the phone, and now it’s going digital in a big way. If you do a buyer “journey map” you’ll probably find that more and more buyers start their journey online and are rapidly adopting mobile technologies such as smart phones and tablets. In the US, Nielson reports that in 2012 about half of all mobile subscribes are using smartphones.

Ultimately, a great prospect experience is about interacting on their terms–giving them the information they want, in the form they want, where they want, at the time they want it, on the device they want. Whether prospects buy immediately or not, a positive experience will become the “gift that keeps on giving” in the future.

Realize that as you’re scoring prospects on their value to you, they are also scoring their experience with your company. Delivering a great prospect experience can help you differentiate and become a B2B brand that businesspeople talk about like consumers rave about Zappos!

This post is an excerpt from 21st Century Sales Warrior Guide To Mobility, a collaborative effort led by Dave Brock with contributions from Bob Apollo, Matt Heinz, and Peter Ostrow. I was honored to have my perspective included with this group of sales thought leaders. Thanks to Dave for inviting me to participate, and kudos to SAP for sponsoring the guide and making it available for free download without registration.


  1. …and, as you note, perceptions of the value customers will receive from a vendor also begin at this point in the life cycle. This is a fundamental element of customer development, and it is missed by many companies as they swarm over prospects, almost irrespective of their individual needs and potential monetary value.

    Success doesn’t come via a ‘push’ process, but through a set of experiences built on collaboration and interaction, and with the prospect calling the tune on methods and amount of communication and contact:

  2. A long time ago when I had a summer job selling men’s clothing I asked the owner how he knew which customers were going to spend a lot (a thousand dollars or more at this store) and which would walk out with little or nothing. He’s you don’t know.

    That lesson stayed with me my whole career, treat every prospect as if they could pay. That attitude is what separates the sales professional from the rank amateurs that seem to pervade many sales organizations. Exceptional sales people deliver exceptional sales experiences that lead to lasting relationships. And here is the kicker, great sales people take their customers with them because those clients want to follow them. Its why organizations who treat their salespeople like a commodity soon run out of them.

    If your sales organization is not delivering start questioning what you are trying to sell, not what’s wrong with my salespeople.

  3. For me, one of the best marketing strategy is still providing great customer service to your current valued customers. Great customer service is equal to loyal customers and loyal customers is equal to good word and good publicity to your business. Customers who experienced great customer service will most likely refer your products or services to friends and members of the community and that is a very effective way to generate new customers.


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