The 4 Habits of Self-Aware Colocation Providers

With colocation providers sometimes targeting the same clients as managed service providers —and vice-versa, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for colo providers to stay on task, identify the right clients and partners, and maintain their pricing power. As the line continues to blur between colocation, enterprise hosting, private cloud, and managed services, this confusion only continues to grow.

Join me at Data Center World on Tuesday, April 4th at 2:30 pm to learn how to attract the right strangers, generate more highly-qualified leads and accelerate more opportunities. My session “10 Ways for Colocation Providers to Find the Right Niches and Avoid Commoditization,” will address strategies for analyzing your competition, identifying market opportunities, and positioning your colocation company for profitable growth.

Attract the Right Strangers as Early as Possible

With the typical colocation influencer or decision maker being 70% or more through their buyer’s journey before contacting a salesperson, it is more essential than ever for colo providers to be found early to make a difference in their prospect’s buyer’s journey.

The buyer’s journey consists of three stages:

  • Awareness: when a potential client is just discovering a problem, opportunity, or goal
  • Consideration: when a potential client identifies, and defines their problem, opportunity, or goal and begins researching solutions
  • Decision: when a potential client selects a solution

When colocation businesses are found early on in their prospects’ buying process, colo’s get the opportunity to educate, advise, guide, and influence their prospects. Businesses discovered in the early stages of the buyer’s journey are granted time to prove their value—allowing them to compete on factors other than price. Getting found early is hugely important for gaining leverage and maintaining pricing power and profit margins.

Early detection stems from creating content for the very first stage of the buyer’s journey: the Awareness stage.

The Awareness stage focuses on using educational, relevant content to attract strangers and help them identify their unique problem, opportunity, or goal. This stage uses content such as blogs, social media, and website optimization to draw in strangers and redirect them to a company’s website, thus becoming visitors.

Stop Acting Like a “Vendor”

Most businesses look to attract prospects early in their sales cycles so they can establish trusted advisor status. As a trusted advisor, businesses:

  • Consider themselves a partner, not a vendor
  • Consult rather than bid
  • Provide a suitable diagnosis instead of a pitch
  • Offer paid reports instead of proposals
  • Allow their prospects to come to them instead of begging for meetings

Businesses should invest in developing buyer personas to attract the right buyers.

Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal clients based on real data and some select, educated speculation regarding demographics, behavioral patterns, motivations, and goals.

Buyer persona research takes note of commonalities and trends observed in its data and uses them to create a fictionalized profile. Buyer personas are excellent tools for colo providers to use because they help to validate proposed campaigns, delegate resources, and attract like-minded leads. They are also critical for aligning sales and marketing teams, supporting services and operations, and facilitating future investments in revenue growth.

Businesses can measure the effectiveness of the campaigns they use throughout various stages of their buyer’s journey with SMART goals—goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

Generate More Highly-Qualified Leads

An organization’s website is the hardest working sales rep they employ. A website never calls in sick, does not need time to recharge, and works 24/7 with little to no qualms. With this in mind, colocation executives should ensure their websites are fully optimized to produce, capture, and convert leads. A website should use buyer personas to segment leads into distinct conversion paths, offer enticing, relevant content, and implement lead capturing capabilities.

An easy way to gather a prospect’s information is to gate premium content behind a form. When using this strategy, remember, the higher the perceived value your offer is, the more data you can ask for; the lower the perceived value your offer is, the less you should ask for.

(In other words, crappy content only entitles you to generate crappy leads.)

To optimize your lead generation use:

  • SMART goals
  • Buyer personas
  • Educational content
  • A distribution plan/promotional reach plan
  • Top-down commitment to change company culture — to be seen as thought leaders and subject-matter experts
  • Content aimed at each buyer persona
  • Content for each stage of the buyer’s journey
  • Conversion paths that follow best practices
  • Content valuable enough for your ideal prospects to trade their information for access

Businesses should not invest in paid search or sponsored social media until their lead generation conversion paths are performing well and their lead nurturing content is programmed to cover at least the length of their average sales cycle length.

Accelerate More Opportunities

Getting found early is essential for colocation providers looking to accelerate their sales cycles. The average buyer is 70% or more through their buyer’s journey before reaching out to a salesperson. This unfortunate reality often pressures businesses to compete on price to close sales with prospects — which is really bad for a host of reasons.

When businesses get found early, they earn more time to prove their value, build trust among prospects, educate leads, and prescribe the proper diagnosis. To gain more leverage during the later stages of the sales cycle, businesses must inform and educate their prospects early on, so they position their teams as trusted advisors.

Framing content around your various buyer personas and stages in the buyer’s journey can also help speed up your average sales cycle. Creating highly-relevant content for each persona and stage will help steer your prospects down a clear-cut path toward the proper solution.

Often during a prospect’s journey, time is of the essence. So, use real-time notifications and lead scoring when tracking leads. As a best practice, businesses should be personalizing during every outreach attempt—which can be simplified using lead intelligence.

The Next Step

To learn more about attracting the right strangers, generating more highly-qualified leads, and accelerating more opportunities, join me on April 4th at 2:30 pm at Data Center World 2017 for my session on “10 Ways for Colocation Providers to Find the Right Niches and Avoid Commoditization.”

The session will provide comprehensive information essential to accelerating your sales cycles, generating new highly-qualified leads, scaling your business, and driving your sales, marketing, and revenue strategies.

About the Author

Joshua Feinberg helps data center, hosting, cloud, and managed service providers grow their leads, client base, revenue, and profitability. With over two decades in IT marketing and sales enablement, Joshua’s clients differentiate, get found early in the sales cycle, achieve trusted advisor status, and command premium pricing power to drive sustained, profitable, revenue growth. Learn more by connecting with Joshua Feinberg on LinkedIn.

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