In Part 1 of this blog series, we discussed how the traditional salesperson’s role has changed amid this revolution of buyer behavior. Since buyers are acting differently today, by definition we have to change our marketing and sales processes so that we can attract, convert and close prospects into new customers.
Most businesses rely heavily on their sales teams to create their own opportunities from scratch and many of these tactics (such as cold calling and direct mail) are no longer as effective as they once were. Business owners have to adapt their sales strategies to increase sales or, if not, lose the game of revenue growth.
We introduced the new Inbound Marketing and Sales Funnel in the Part 1. It includes four distinct steps: Inbound Traffic, Awareness Offers, Consideration Offers and Sales Process. Each step makes up 25% of the buying process with marketing now making up a majority of the new sales balance. Here’s what each step looks like:
Step 1: Inbound Traffic
The first step in our new marketing and sales funnel is to generate inbound traffic. Inbound traffic is generated through the marketing messages (strategy) we distribute to our audiences through the tools (tactics) we use to deliver them. These tactics could include Internet marketing tools like search engine optimization and pay-per-click, or other forms of advertising like public relations, speaking engagements and word-of-mouth referrals. Each of these tactics introduces a prospect to your company for the first time.
Step 2: Awareness Offer
The second step in our process, the Awareness Offer, should be located on your website in order to grow leads. The most common examples of Awareness Offers are e-guides, eBooks or whitepapers. These should be on your home page and offer free, valuable information to your prospects in exchange for their email address. Getting the prospects’ email address is the primary goal of the Awareness Offer.
Once you have the visitor’s email address, you can begin to nurture them with regular, monthly emails that provide additional relevant content that they would be interested in. Sending a monthly email seems to create a good rhythm for most companies, but really the quantity and quality of the content offers should determine the frequency. As business owners, you’re not really looking for visitors to your website – you’re looking for qualified leads generated by visits to the website. This conversion is the key and should be the goal for every Awareness Offer.
Step 3: Consideration Offer
As you deliver content to these prospects that helps them solve their pains, you will begin to build a strong virtual relationship. Once you develop some trust with your audience, you will then have an opportunity to invite prospects to take another step into your sales process by offering the Consideration Offer. If the content you provided up to this point is valuable to them, they will eagerly take this next step.
The Consideration Offer can take many forms – whether it’s a webinar, webcast, free consultation, demo or assessment – all of which invite prospects to connect with your company on a deeper level. While free, the Consideration Offer contains more perceived risk than the Awareness Offer because there is an element of human interaction. The good news is that if someone commits to taking time out of their day to accept a Consideration Offer, you will be one step closer to converting them into a new customer. If the content provided helps them and propels them to ask for a conversation or meeting afterward, the Consideration Offer was a success.
Step 4: Sales Process
When a prospect “raises his or her hand” and asks for a conversation or meeting after a webinar (or other Consideration Offer), this is the first time the sales team gets involved in the process. This represents the last 25% of the process and makes up the new role of the salesperson: to sift through the qualified opportunities that have been provided by marketing and guide them the rest of the way home. This is in direct contrast to the old system, which heavily depends on the sales team sourcing, educating, pitching, and closing new customers.
When done properly, this is how the new Inbound Marketing and Sales funnel works: attracting new visitors, converting them into leads for your business, qualifying them further into the funnel and closing them into new customers – all with the purpose of growing revenue.