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A recent report by the Marketing Leadership Council indicates that customers do not interact with an organization’s sales department until they are already 60% of the way through the buying cycle. This statistic simply validates what we intuitively know about consumer behavior; that first impressions and quality marketing information in all formats are critical to attracting sales opportunities.

To further break down this idea, consider this trend along the typical buying cycle of:
1) Awareness
2) Research & Understanding
3) Evaluation
4) Negotiation
5) Purchase

The first two stages and much of the third can be completed without sales involvement. In fact, I would venture to bet that the first two are almost always completely done without the knowledge or awareness of the sales or marketing organizations.

I personally do extensive research on products and services prior to even requesting literature. Additionally, I routinely eliminate from consideration companies that do not make sufficient information about their solutions readily available on their websites or in other public forums.

Extrapolate this behavior to your typical consumer and you can clearly see the need for focusing on the quality and effectiveness of your frontline communication elements, specifically your website. To help you do this, we’ve developed four actions you should take to ensure you get included in your customers’ evaluation and purchasing decisions.

1) Evaluate the information available about your products and services both on your website and on other publically available resources.

2) Review your customers’ buying process to determine what information they found critical to making a purchasing decision and how it matches your existing content.

3) Compare your public content with that of your competitors to determine gaps in your information that may “eliminate you from consideration” despite similar capabilities.

4) Be proactive in highlighting information that you know differentiates your solution from your competitors as a way influence the evaluation process.