7 Innovative Ways to Foster Prospect Interaction

By Christy Hill — Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015 at 11:00am
7 Innovative Ways to Foster Prospect Interaction

Remember the days when businesses struggled to interact with their prospective buyers and industry contacts? Before the Internet became a way of life, if you wanted to interact with prospects, trade shows were the best option for reaching the targeted masses. Sure, there were other tactics such as cold calling, conference calls, in-person meetings, and relying on referrals, but those all came with a limited reach. And mass advertising was only an option for those companies with the deepest pockets adding to the major barriers to success back then.

Now, with the advent of the world wide web and the myriad new methods of interaction that have emerged as a result, those types of limitations are a thing of the past, and it’s our responsibility as marketers to adjust to the new rules of the game. The web has given us an arsenal of free or low-cost methods to reach and interact with our prospects, all without leaving the comfort of our desks. The traditional avenues of facilitating prospect interaction, when utilized effectively, can still provide tremendous marketing value and are essential to the sales cycle, so we certainly don’t want to neglect those. However, if you’re not capitalizing on the new methods of interaction, you’re missing out on a ton of valuable opportunities, and giving your competitors a chance to get ahead in the game.

With that said, here are some methods companies are using to facilitate interaction with prospects and within their client communities

Social networks

For any company, it’s essential to be active on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, that’s a given. But it’s not enough to just jump on the social media bandwagon — you have to do it in a way that brings value to the discussion. To start off your social media efforts on the right foot, ask yourself a few questions: Who is my target audience? What do I hope to accomplish? What content can my company share? What are my competitors doing? How can I stand out?

Webinars & podcasts

You can provide great value to your community by leading “how-to” or “best practices” webinars or podcasts. Your company can host these, but for even more compelling presentations, you could partner with your clients and have them present on a topic. Companies benefit immeasurably from an active client community, as prospects will see that your clients are engaged, and that they think enough of your company to spend the time and effort required to host a webinar. One drawback of this tactic is that it can be difficult to enforce the client’s preparation, in which case you should be ready to step in and help wherever needed in order to facilitate a smooth final presentation.

Wikis & forums

Setting up user forums and wikis will give your clients and prospects a public place to interact and exchange ideas and best practices. Our very ownCascade CMS Client Community Site provides an example of an active user forum. Anyone can start a discussion, and anyone can participate in a discussion. A big benefit of creating this yourself is that it could potentially allow your support team to monitor public discussions and respond to recurring issues or critical problems. A wiki is a site created and updated by voluntary contributors;Wikipedia is most comprehensive and best-known example of this. Your company might create a wiki for a search documentation site and allow authorized users, such as longtime clients and beta users, to update the wiki themselves. You could also provide a listserv for your clients, perhaps giving prospects access to this “inside info” during the sales process. All of these resources bolster your company’s credibility and help build trust during the sales cycle by displaying your company’s transparency and willingness to empower users.

Idea exchange

Current customers constitute the primary users of a company idea exchange (like our ownCascade Idea Exchange), which can be a very effective way to foster great company-client interaction. Most small businesses welcome feedback from their clients and often use those ideas and suggestions to help flesh out their product roadmap. Having an idea exchange also serves as an ongoing reminder to a company that meeting customer needs and wants is integral to success.

White papers & research studies

White papers and research studies serve as valuable resources for information on your industry and client community. Conducting surveys and asking for opinions to complete these studies gives you an opportunity to interact with clients without trying to sell them something. It also lets your clients and prospects know you’ve been doing your homework.  Before the rise of web marketing, you were forced to shove these resources in front of prospects via direct mail or face-to-face delivery during the nurturing process, whether or not they were interested in receiving them. Nowadays, interested prospects actively seek out this type of information, so making these things readily available on your site is a great way to foster prospect interaction.

Blogs & content

Similar to hosting occasional webinars, frequently publishing new blog posts and other valuable content can give your community something to talk about. If you’re not creating anything new (webinars, blogs, videos, etc), people will lose interest or won’t even want to interact with you in the first place.

Be yourself

Of all of these tips, perhaps the most fundamental (and important!) piece of advice is that you should always be yourself! Today’s consumers are savvy enough to spot a phony from miles away, and it’s a major turnoff. Scripts are old-fashioned and prevent you from interacting with prospects in a genuine way. And nobody wants to talk to a robot (unless it’s an actual robot- that’s still kinda cool).

What are some other ways to drive client and prospect interaction?  

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