When I speak with directors and CEOs at colocation data centers, usually one of the first things they want to discuss about their sales funnels is how to generate more highly-qualified leads from their websites.
What I find next, however, is usually both very widespread and at the same time alarming.
Nine times out of ten, for a potential client that hasn’t touched their website in a few years, there are usually only two or three places on their entire website where a hot prospect can raise their hand and convert from a website visitor into a lead.
Sure, most websites for colocation data centers have a Contact Us form and usually have something like a Request a Quote form – and if we’re being generous, perhaps a white paper that’s at least mildly educational, rather than a disguised brochure. And that’s it. Period.
And this lead conversion strategy would’ve worked reasonably well 10 or 15 years ago. But not today. Not even close.
Today’s evaluators and decision makers for data center services navigate from stranger to client in very different ways than they did just a few years back.
And in order for your website and digital sales funnel to plant its flag in the ground as a relevant player in that process, for the overwhelming majority of your ideal clients, you will need to gain a much better understanding of the buyer’s journey for your services and what must be implemented in order to fill the massive gaps in your current digital sales funnel.
Buyer’s Journey Defined
Just to make sure that we’re on the same page, the buyer’s journey is the active research process during which a complete stranger decides whether or not to do business with your colocation data center.
The journey has gone through massive changes in recent years, transforming from very seller-centric a decade ago to very buyer-centric today.
In order to gain trusted advisor status and build relationships with potential clients, it’s critical that you understand how your ideal clients make this voyage, so you can serve as their tour guide.
During the awareness stage, a prospect is just beginning to become aware that they have a problem.
And that prospect is beginning to look for information about that problem on search engines and pose questions about that problem on social media.
These broad-based research questions are being asked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The only question for you is: Are you willing and able to answer these questions and gain the opportunity to build a trusted advisor relationship with ideal potential clients?
And is your company truly committed to becoming the best world class educators, teachers, and professors -- about anything and everything having to do with IT, business, and data center problems that impact the local and regional markets where your facilities are located?
To succeed in the awareness stage as a colo provider, you need to have lots of helpful, relevant, eBooks, downloadable planning checklists, blog posts, videos, podcasts, and social media participation
Most in the data center industry are just starting to wake up to how critical it is to attract strangers in the awareness stage, so you have an opportunity to help shape their decision-making criteria, before it’s too late.
When an ideal, potential client decides that he has learned enough about his problem, that prospect starts to consider their different options.
Now the content focuses more on solutions, rather than problems.
So the prospect begins to become aware of different companies and brands, looking at them side by side and trying to understand what the specific solution to their problem might look like.
For consideration stage prospects, colocation centers typically lean on webinars, case studies, ROI calculators, and comparison tools.
By segmenting your content offers by stage of the buyer’s journey – awareness, consideration, and decision– you can enter the conversation going on in their mind in a contextually relevant way.
The flip side – if you fail to pay attention to where your potential clients are in the buyer’s journey, one of these two scenarios unfolds:
- Your company is completely invisible and not in their consideration set (as if your company doesn’t exist)
- You offend and alienate your potential clients by aggressively proposing “marriage” on the “first date”
OK, so a potential client has been attracted to your website by a blog post, a social media post, or a recommendation from another client or potential client.
You’ve made such a great first impression with your content that the website visitor is just dying to know what else you have to say – and converts to a lead for an awareness stage eBook or white paper.
You’ve sent that person lots of helpful information in recent weeks so they move from looking at their problem to considering solutions – and that person just attended your live one hour webinar. What’s next?
That person may now be “sales ready” or at least at the stage where that person would be receptive to, and not offended by, decision stage offers.
Now, it’s very important to understand that this isn’t calling or badgering a prospect and asking when they’re going to buy.
At the decision stage, you present qualified leads with offers for live demos, facility tours, free consultations, and perhaps free quotes.
But most of all, it’s super critical that you segment your leads by where each qualified is in the buyer’s journey, so you can get the most contextually-relevant content offering in front of that person at the right time.
How well is your colo data center doing with creating and promoting helpful, educational content for each stage of the buyer’s journey? What needs work? Let us know where you are with this in the Comments.
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