Many marketing and sales media have declared the death of the marketing/sales funnel. It is rapidly being replaced by a focus on the customer journey and something called the marketing flywheel, which is simply a process that puts the buyer at the center of the transaction.
Whatever you call it or however you graphically represent it, one principle is abundantly clear -- the prospect controls the sales process. Your marketing and sales functions can only plan for how you are going to touch that person with your messages and your relationship-building tactics. More important than ever is WHEN you’re going to contact that person.
Viewing your prospect as a flesh-and-blood human and deciding exactly when you’re going to tap them on the shoulder with messages, demos, and follow-ups will not only deliver better results but will keep your brand from being an annoyance in a sea of sales messages.
We’re not suggesting a hug-fest. That would be inappropriate and unsanitary (and probably even impossible given the huge uptick in remote work situations).
But we’ve already talked about how the relationship between Sales and Marketing needs some major fixing in terms of planning consumer outreach. That’s just the first step.
As you go through that “counseling” process, be sure to put the customer or prospect at the epicenter of your planning and messaging.
Your prospects and customers don’t care that you have two separate functions within your company. Or, they are equally unimpressed by the fact you’ve promised your board that you would deliver 500 new MQLs in July.
Sales prospects are people who want to excel in their jobs, make more money for their companies, save time, or solve a specific thorny problem that’s weighing heavily on them in work and/or life.
They are not sitting around at their phones or laptops, waiting for you to bring them a product or service. You need to gently work your way into their lives, build trust in your brand and solution, and ultimately convince them to take a demo.
That combination of customer intimacy and trust may or may not lead to your prospect moving you up the company decision-making chain and ultimately handing over a purchase order or credit/debit card.
You probably wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on the first date. Like any relationship-building process, a sales transaction takes time, talent, commitment, and focus. The higher the ticket, the more complex the process.
That’s where time comes in.
When sales are down, sales pros are quick to complain that the “leads are crap.” Or, marketing simply hasn’t provided enough leads.
That may well be true. But there’s another factor that many marketers and sales teams don’t think about when mapping out their campaigns.
What is the best time to sell and how long does the customer journey process really take? As important, does the organization have enough of the right talent at the right time to follow-up on leads and commit to the entire sales cycle. That’s where thoughtful and tight capacity planning comes in.
Going back to the concept of seeing the world through your prospects’ eyes, be conscious of when the best times are for your customers to make purchase decisions. For example, if a retail business is smack in the middle of planning for the holiday season, trying to get their attention with your offer may be tough.
Factor your customer’s seasonality into your planning before you look internally.
As you look at your internal timing, get a really clear understanding of how and when leads ultimately turn into revenue. And that time span may actually vary for every level (and even every individual) within the sales team.
Many sales, marketing, and success organizations are focused on the month they’re in or perhaps the 90 days around their current state. The day-to-day pressures of business-building make long-term planning challenging.
But successful organizations have discovered that they need to plan much earlier on for cultivating leads and turning them into sales. When sales teams say “We need more leads,” what they’re really saying is “We needed more leads three months ago.”
Long-term planning is critical to creating an effective customer journey roadmap and giving your sales team the greatest shot at success and more revenue.
Excel is probably used by 80 percent of all start-ups and scale-ups as they plan their customer journeys and deal flows.
It is a relatively “flat” planning tool in that it doesn’t really take into consideration your capacity plan, the time to onboard new sales talent, or the length of time taken to convert a lead into a sale.
What’s more, as market conditions and results change, sales teams spend hours updating those spreadsheets.
As the sales process becomes more fluid, companies need more responsive and interactive tools that will allow them to build in human factors -- both internal and external. All internal departments need access to the same data and insights -- 24/7.
Your CFO can still use a spreadsheet to illustrate results, but Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success all need to adopt the same (dynamic) tool that puts them all on the same page -- with the customer/prospect in the middle.
Customer journey diagrams and team-friendly technologies are not going to instantly boost your bottom line. But they will give you a common language and system for humanizing your sales process.
Marketing, sales, and customer success teams must put the prospect at the center of their deal flow and then look at the human factors and timing within their own organizations that will impact outcomes.
Human factors will always impact sales. But if you put the customer at the center of your process and use the right tools to manage capacity planning and timing, you’ll see a significant boost in alignment and revenue.
Speaking of timing, when it’s convenient for YOU, schedule a demo of BurnRate!