In Revenue Disruption, I claimed that virtually all buying processes—whether as consumers or businesspeople—begin well out of reach of traditional advertising, marketing, and sales activities. At this very early stage, buyers may have an idea about something they want, a feeling about an unmet need, a vague sense that there must be something out there to scratch an itch. Buyers search online, and begin to conduct research—whether they consciously realize they are doing so or not. They begin to scope out their options. They ask their networks of friends and connections for advice and recommendations. They latch on to helpful content, wherever they find it. And today, most often this all happens online, often anonymously, in the vast and ever-changing sea of digital and social media.

In response, I introduced the term seed nurturing: the notion that any organization with something to sell must get to these protobuyers early on, providing useful information to mold the buyer’s process and planting the seeds for a future sale. Yet at this early stage of the revenue cycle model, it is very uncommon for a vendor to have a relationship with these protobuyers, and even if it does, it’s unlikely that the vendor knows that these early-stage buyers are considering its offerings. The organization and the buyer are strangers.

But there is rich pay dirt here. If we can begin to master this early stage of the revenue cycle, our organizations have an opportunity to stand out, separate ...

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