Thought Leadership, Your Pipeline and Visualization

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Your Pipeline Has a Leak

95% of your potential sales pipeline (the universe of people that COULD buy your services) is going to produce zip – not even an opportunity to pitch your services. Is there anything you can and should be doing to maybe make that 94% or 93% or less? Can you bump up your sales opportunities by concentrating on your marketing and sales to increase those odds? Of course you can.

Can interactive data visualization play a key role in this process? I believe it can.

To sell, you need to show a prospect that you know them, you understand their business, their industry, their particular challenges. You’re probably great at doing that once you’ve had a few calls with them and are in the room for the big pitch for their business. But how can you do that before you’ve met them, before you’ve exchanged an email with them, before you’re even aware that they exist?

Marketing Plugs Leaks

This is exactly what marketing is supposed to do, really. Marketing is showing the market that you exist, and that your solutions and ideas fit with the world’s needs. And thought leadership, in particular, shows the world that you have specific smart ideas that can help solve real problems. It keeps you on the list for a prospect – it keeps the pipeline from leaking.

But your thought leadership is editorialized. You’ve done your research and teased out your conclusions and are publishing a specific analysis and storyline. Sometimes, especially for research- and data-driven thought leadership, you are necessarily leaving something (often a lot of things) out. You are not telling your audience’s story, you’re not connecting with each reader, but rather a homogenized median reader. An average; a profile. 

Interactive Delivers Granularity and Personalization Your Audience Needs

Interactive data visualizations solve this. By opening up the kimono and sharing your data and the tools to allow your audience to play with the data themselves, you are empowering them to see themselves in your data. Perhaps you’re letting them find how the data relates specifically to companies in their industry or their region or their size. Either way (and 100 ways more), you’re doing what I proposed marketing is supposed to to do: you’re showing the market that you exist and that you understand your audience. You really understand them – your data shows that your ideas apply to them directly, not some amalgam of companies in a certain category sort of like them.

Data visualization does something else that no PDF will ever do. It attracts the attention of a broader audience and encourages sharing. Not too many people are trolling the internet for another 25 page PDF. But people are trolling for engaging and interesting visual and interactive experiences.  And they will share the most engaging ones with friends and colleagues. So while the CEO of the Fortune 1000 firm may never stumble across your interactive visualization on his or her own, you can bet that the junior associate six levels down will find it, will share it with colleagues and managers, and if it’s great and really applies to their business, it will trickle up to the CEO.

If you could turn 1% more of the universe of potential business into an actionable lead, what would that mean to your organization?

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/willowherb/

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