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Has Sales & Marketing Integration Mutated the Sales Funnel?

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 5/29/12 1:38 PM

Can your sales and marketing strategy predict the buying process?

Poor Ben. In a previous post, I started the story of Ben and his door to door sales strategy for the 'non-profit' organization he was working for. The sales process that happened after I opened the front door is the second chapter to the experience. 

Now, what can Ben and Environment America do differently to increase their lead generation and revenue?

1. Understand the New Sales & Marketing Funnel

Don't let the word funnel fool you. There is nothing linear about the customer buying process. There are too many ways (to list) that a prospect will become aware of your organization. Marketing has become very complicated. Good thing marketing is so smart. (just ask any one of us.)

Not only can prospects 'enter the funnel' in multiple points (sometimes simultaneously!), they also enter at different levels, depending on where they are in their buying process. 

  • Top of funnel (TOFU). They are researching or just browsing, trying to educate themselves on their problem or question. Something (maybe not even your marketing, but your competitor's) has gotten their Attention.
  • Middle of funnel (MOFU). They know approximately what they are looking for. They have a problem or a question, they are looking for a solution. They probably don't know what to buy because they don't know what the solution looks like, or should look like, but they are Interested in solving the problem.
  • Bottom of funnel (BOFU). They know exactly, or almost exactly what they want. They are comparing their known options and have the Desire for a solution.

2. Integrate the sales process AND marketing process into one.

"You've got traffic. But who among those visitors is a qualified lead? Who should you disqualify, and how? What process are you using to calculate the sales potential in your existing traffic? How do you discern visitor intent, and how to prioritize your marketing efforts to satisfy your most qualified visitors? " ~ Market Motive

But only one thing really matters at the end of the day, whether it is an offline event that sent someone to your website, an email, a social media post, or an organic search. How did it effect sales?

"Just because you have traffic, doesn't mean you have sales." ~ MiM Client

  • The importance of disqualifying certain visitors (prospects, leads, MARKETS). Stop wasting time on people who will never buy, or never become evangelists for you. Why spend all the time and money to acquire a new customer if that customer will not be the evangelist that sends you 5 more customers? Shouldn't we always be thinking in terms of customer lifetime value?
  • The difference between your visitor knowing what to do and what to buy. First, don't assume they know what to do next, always assume they don't. This is so important, whether you are in sales, marketing, accounting, the CEO, or founder of business. NEVER ASSUME.
  • Brand recognition buys you a lot of confidence. If they already know, trust and like you- then your site doesn't have to be perfect, the customer experience doesn't have to be exactly right. If visitors were referred to you by a trusted source, or they know and relate to your brand, they are more likely to put up with things that annoy them. For a little while.
  • What A/B testing can do for you. Testing is not just so you can increase a conversation rate, or even generate more leads. It is to generate leads that are potential ideal customers. A conversion optimization framework, or lead generation strategy, should be focused on understanding your customer's buying mode more clearly, being more relevant to them, and proving real value. Not just getting them to take an Action with you.
  • Conversion and persuasion. Just because you have gotten someone to do something, does not mean you have persuaded them to trust you. A Satisfied customer, client, or donor, is more likely to become an evangelist for your brand, product, or cause when they trust you.

The main point here? Stop putting everything into silos! Inbound marketing versus outbound. Sales funnel versus marketing process. Brand marketing versus content marketing. Customers buy how they want, interact where they want. They control your selling process. They decide the when, where and how.

Remember the Golden Rule? "He who has the gold, makes the rules."

What does your funnel look like? Is it working? How do you know?

Topics: marketing strategy, sales funnel, sales strategy, sales process, sales and marketing integration, marketing process