Archive | Sales Funnel

AIDA, Next Step, Qualify, Close, Deliver etc.

Sales Process – why an end-to-end approach matters

As someone responsible for making sales you’ll be very aware of the importance of an effective sales process. You can’t mandate that your prospect will be easily led through your sales process. However, being able to assess where the buyer is, and what an appropriate next step is will help both you and the buyer.

The Sales Funnel is a graphical representation that helps us manage time and resources allocated to different stages of the sales process.

B2B Sales Process challenges:

There can be many challenges in the B2B sales process:

  • Not enough people, leads or opportunities at each stage in the sales funnel
  • Not enough leads converting from one stage to the next
  • Sales opportunities taking longer than expected to move forward to the next stage.
  • Each step and conversion taking more effort and cost than you planned for
  • A marketing and sales process that is reactive, chaotic, unpredictable and unreliable.

B2B Sales funnel approach

Although there is some discussion about how the Sales Funnel is changing in light of recent changes such as the Internet, search, increasing self-service, social media and so on, it would be foolish to throw out the concept of sales funnel entirely. B2B sales can still be pro-active, add value, guide buyers through the process and more.

B2B Lead Generation

At the start of the process, or the top of the sales funnel, there is lead generation activity. This can be offline, such as networking events or exhibition, or direct mail. It might be online with activities such as Content Marketing, search marketing, online advertising or a mix of many other activities. The lead generation process is about being in front of the right people with the right message or offer at the right time.

B2B Lead Nurture

Unless your sales are small and impulse purchases there’s likely to be several contacts over a period of time before the buyer is able and ready to make a purchase decision. Keeping in contact with the prospect, and providing relevant and timely messages, is a way to develop the relationship, and also to qualify and to identify what next message would be most applicable.

B2B Selling

Considered purchases in B2B are often made having received formal quotes or proposals. Gaining a clear understanding of the specific needs and requirements, influencing those in your favour, emphasising the strengths and points of differentiation of your solution, and getting a price that wins the business at a profit to you are all part of the selling process. With increased competition it takes a smart operator and effective support to consistently hit sales and profit targets.

Mapping out the Marketing and Sales process

A great way to improve results is to map out the marketing and sales process. It helps to identify how well this maps onto the buying process and check that each step adds value to the buyer. Then we can see how to reduce the cost of delivering each step, while also maintaining or improving your conversion ratio.

Once the process is mapped then resources and content can be aligned to it, and measures tracked to manage progress.

This provides a basis for avoiding – DOA – Dead on Arrival – or bids that you realise with hindsight you had very little chance of winning.

And to use the acronym, we can look at the tasks that make up the marketing and sales process to see what steps you can  Delegate, Outsource or Automate.

Tips to help you map out your processes

We have prepared a set of tips and a checklist to help you to:

  • map out your marketing and sales process 
  • delegate, outsource or automate activities

A clear process map and strategy is one of the SIX pillars to B2B sales improvement.

Content Marketing and the Sales Funnel

Content marketing seems to be all the rage at the moment. Content helps people and businesses to be found through search engines.  Blogs and social media are seen as great ways to put out content in order to be found and so people can start to know, like and trust you. Google rewards fresh content with higher scores encouraging businesses to generate even more content.  Businesses try to get high in the search rankings so they generate content specific to certain keywords. But then so do their competitors.

Content is King

There is also a prevalent saying that ‘Content is King’. The ability to create compelling content is very important, for that content to resonate with the reader, and to achieve it’s objective really matters. In this context it might be to inform, to entertain, to inspire, to persuade or similar goals. And content isn’t just about text, it could be pictures, audio, video, SMS, and other formats too. Multi-media content has become more practical, with the increase in electronic channels.

Distribution is Emporer

In an interview with international publisher Larry Genkin, written as a blog post here, he identified that without a means to get content into the hands of readers it was of very little value. As a publisher he clearly saw circulation of his publications as a vital bridge between content authors and readers. And in a marketing and sales context that translates into the various methods of getting content into the hands of readers, so social media, website and blog, email marketing, print, and so on. The ability to establish or to use communications channels to reach the desired readerships or viewers is clearly of great importance.

The process is the Power behind the throne

However, within the Marketing and Sales area we hold that content and distribution are means to an end, which is to achieve the goals of the process. In this respect it is about right message, right time, right channel, right person. And above all, in order to move the sale forwards there should be an effective call to action and a means for the reader to respond.

Content Grid v2

Combine these elements and the marketing and sales them have a very rich and varied palate from which to craft communications to feed into the sales process and to support people at the customer facing part of the sequence where personal contact builds trust, matches offerings against needs, negotiates deals and briefs delivery, or whatever the specifics for your industry or business.

Monitor and measure

With the increase in online communication comes the ability to monitor and measure how someone interacts with the message, or more specifically, whether they read it and whether the intended action as a result. The accuracy of this enables follow-up communications to be sent, to move the prospect to the next step.

How to approach content marketing

There are several options and routes available, so here are some ideas:

Increase content distribution

  • If what you have is fit from purpose or better then, other things being equal, it’s worth getting more eye-balls looking at it.
  • If there are brochures in the store-room they are not helping the sales process, so get them into circulation.
  • Likewise, a good or great website without many visitors warrants efforts to increase visitors.

Re-purpose content

  • Re-using what you have in a different format can produce quick wins.
  • If you have white-papers then use each paragraph or section as the topic for a blog post.
  • If you have case studies lift out customer quotes to use elsewhere.
  • If you have Powerpoint presentations then record an audio track and post them onto Slideshare as a SlideCast, which you could then incorporate in a page or post on your website or blog.
  • If your website has great content but is not converting then review and improve the high traffic pages.

Make content work harder

  • Improve conversion through various techniques

Create compelling content

  • Unlock the knowledge in the heads of you, your staff and team, customers and partners

SMART Content Marketing

Contact us a Wurlwind if you would like to talk through any ideas about developing or leveraging your content

Recycle through the sales funnel

The traditional sales funnel is viewed as linear and one way.

  • This can lead to a lot of wastage as prospects and leads fall by the way-side if they don’t progress to the next stage.
  • It also misses huge opportunities to tap into the potential to leverage progression to feed back into the sales funnel.

Recent developments mean neither of these apply to the same extent as preciously.

The availability and access to information via the internet means the buyer can pick and choose the information that suits them, so the linear process that the vendor could previously control is becoming quite random. In addition, since the buyer is now more in control they may chose to move forwards and backwards through the buying process, especially if there are several people in the buying team, with different needs and responsibilities.

The good news is that by updating the sales funnel model, marketing and sales processes and by using technology as a supporting tool, there are ways that vendor organisations can redress the balance, and reclaim some of the initiative.  traditional

Sales Funnel recycling

The wastage of leads and opportunities falling by the way-side can be addressed by updating the marketing and sales activities internally. There are many ways that contacts could be recycled through the marketing and sales process that is under some control of the sales organisation, through internal systems, such as email marketing and customer relationship management. For example:

  • a prospect who is contacted by sales for an initial qualification call but is not yet ready to buy can be added back into a marketing campaign to raise their awareness.
  • a lost sale situation can be added back into a low key contact program as there may be a subsequent sales opportunity.
  • a customer who has made an initial purchase can be re-marketed to for upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Social Business recycling

The missed opportunities is really about recognising the potential that Social Media and Social Business provides, as a very powerful means to address the latter and to harness and facilitate the leverage that is increasingly available. For example:

  • experience gained with a customer and their usage of your product or service could be fed into the lead nurture activity, posted of the FAQ, Blog, and highlighted through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and so on.
  • customer testimonials, especially by video, could be added to landing pages, home pages etc to increase the social proof and reduce perceived risk to a new prospect.
  • customers, prospect, contacts and even people who you don’t yet know about could ‘Like’ the content you create and publish on your website, blog etc. and highlight it to people who they know and are connected to.

Recycling strategies for marketing and sales

Identifying potential for recycling within existing marketing, sales and delivery areas and processes and developing strategies and implementing operational or tactical solutions can be extremely beneficial. They have the potential to increase the revenue per customer and their life-time value, to increase conversion at each stage in the marketing and sales process, and to reduce the cost of sale through reduction in marketing and sales spend and through increased productivity, to highlight just some of the potential return on investment areas.

How much recycling do you do at the moment?

You may already be thinking about ideas and areas where you could improve marketig and sales, but how about:

  • how effective is your re-marketing to existing customers?
  • how easy do you make it for them to endorse what you do for and with your current customers?
  • do you review lost business and use it as a learning and improvement trigger and re-marketing opportunity?

For more suggestions to help you turbo-charge your sales funnel, sign up to the tips on the right.