Who hasn't followed up with a long-time prospect only to learn the prospect had just purchased similar services from a competitor?
Exactly when people will buy your products and services is impossible to predict, but often there is a time when they are very receptive—what psychologists term "selective attraction," the point at which you are open and responsive to a message because you are interested in its content.
Consider the example picking up a friend at a train station. Hundreds of people may be rushing past you, but it's relatively easy to spot your friend in the crowd. That's because you are focused on searching the train station for all people who fit the profile of your friend, and you disregard those who don't meet the criteria.
Selective attraction is more effective when the information holds personal pertinence. For example, although I thoroughly detest shopping, I become a regular shopaholic when I'm in the market for something I want. That's why I will spend hundreds of hours researching and shopping for golf equipment, computers, AV systems, and automobiles.
But once I've made my decision and purchased the product or service, I lose interest in the subject; and from that point onward, it's a waste of time for marketers to bombard me with advertisements and sales offers. My decision is final, and the gray line to my consciousness on this subject probably won't open again for years.
As marketers, we instinctively realize it's impossible to pinpoint when our prospects will be buying. That's why it's critical not just to keep in touch but also to make sure your company shows up in all of the right places when the prospect is selectively attracted to buy from you.
This combination of the right message at the right time will improve your inbound marketing efforts, creating what I call "planned serendipity." In the case of B2B technology companies, for example, the most effective inbound marketing programs integrate the following eight elements:
- Public relations
- Analyst relations
- Thought leadership
- Custom landing pages
- Paid and organic search
- Social media
Ideally, every time a prospect interacts with your company, the event will trigger a notice to a customer relationship management (CRM) system so that you can track and measure all stages of the sales process—from initial contact to sales and support.