How Inbound Marketing And Inbound Sales Are Evolving Into Full Funnel Lead Generation
It’s always been about the results for our clients. I guess you could say we've always been a full funnel agency. If we get them leads, they love us. If we don’t, they’re disappointed. Even clients that get a ton of leads are sometimes disappointed if they can’t close those leads and turn them into revenue.
We get it. Marketing is supposed to drive revenue. Sales is supposed to drive revenue. Historically, and at most companies today, these are two separate activities.
The concept of full funnel is a derivative of an approach that we’ve been proponents of for years. There is no separation between sales and marketing. It is one single flow of experiences that contribute to a prospect saying "yes" to your product or service offering. We commonly refer to this as “click to close.” The biggest challenge with full funnel, or click to close, is that it requires both inbound marketing and inbound sales to deliver it.
To define what full funnel is, here’s a description of how it would work.
Prospects Find You
If people can’t find your company on search engines, social media sites, related websites, online communities and directories, you might as well be invisible. No matter what you do, where you do it and how you do it, tens of thousands of people are looking for companies like yours right now. If they can’t find you, I can guarantee they’re finding your competitors. The first step in full funnel is making sure prospects can find you and then helping them see why they should click to visit your website.
Prospects Visit Your Website
Google reports that nine out of 10 people will visit your website before calling you or clicking through. Don’t you behave like that now? If someone tells you about a great company, your first response is likely to go find their website. Your website can no longer serve as an electronic brochure. Today, it needs to be designed to connect your new visitors with your stories, passion, differentiation factors and your ability to help them — all in just 10 seconds.
It must grab their attention, disrupt their status quo and deliver educational information to draw prospects into your world, make them feel safe and get them to trust you so they provide you with their contact information. Your website has only one mission — to generate leads.
You Deliver An Experience
Instead of thinking like a manufacturer, professional services firm or software company, you need to think like Walt Disney World. What can you do to provide these prospects with such a remarkable experience (on your site) that they want to convert and ultimately do business with you? People make purchase decisions emotionally first and rationalize them after, so your site must suck them in emotionally. It should tell stories, grab them and get them to want to look around, click around and ultimately convert.
This isn’t something you do at launch or work at during the development of the site. This is an objective you work on every month. Look at the performance of the site and make sure that all aspects of the site work to deliver the experience we’ve been talking about.
They Convert From Visitor To Lead
The goal of your website is to turn anonymous visitors into leads. The best way to do that is to stockpile your site with educational content that answers your visitors’ questions before they even ask them. This means you need to have a deep and complete understanding of their buyer journey, the questions they have and the challenges they’re dealing with.
The better you plan your site, your content and your conversion path, the more leads you’ll get from your site. This is a common mistake many people make. They build a website without an understanding of search, content and conversion. The result is a great-looking site that produces no leads. Every site requires an ongoing optimization effort to identify weak spots and prop them up. Either new/upgraded pages or new/upgraded offers are required to increase conversions across the site and increase leads.
You Continue The Experience By Nurturing Them
Ninety percent of the leads you get from your website are NOT going to be ready to talk to you. That doesn’t make them bad leads, it just makes them leads early in their buyer journey. Don’t disqualify them, discard them or discount them. Instead, get ready to nurture them.
Nurturing takes the form of ongoing email marketing, invitations to events and opportunities to share new offers as you create them. Nurturing also includes specially designed trigger campaigns, workflows or sequences that are specific to actions people take on your site. For example, if I download this offer, I get this set of three emails over the next nine days. If I attend a webinar, I might get a different set of three emails sent over the following nine days.
These nurturing campaigns are important for moving leads down into the funnel, for providing additional offers to people who have expressed interest in your company and for getting these leads ready for your sales team.
You Educate Them Through Their Own Buyer Journey
Every one of your prospects has their own personal buyer journey. This means you can’t push them, sell them or direct them to do anything faster than they want to do it. But this also means you must make sure you are providing them insight, value and education all through their buyer journey.
Gartner recently published a study that found 74% of C-level purchasers chose the partner who was first to add value to their purchase decision. Your inbound marketing has to add value and your inbound sales process has to be designed around adding value. One of the best ways to add value during the sales process is to have content that answers your prospects' questions. As you get to know them and their challenges, providing educational information that makes them smart positions you as a trusted advisor and helps them feel safe. They buy when they feel safe and their pain is acute.
They’re Ready To Make a Decision
Now that you guided your prospect through their buyer journey and they’re ready to select you, the job’s not done yet. There are still potholes and land mines this far down the funnel that you want to work to avoid. If you’re a software company, the demo could slow down the deal. If you have a legal contract, that document could slow down the deal. If you allow your prospects to check references, that could slow down the deal. If all three of these are in play, you could be looking at extending the sales process by three to four weeks.
Instead, look for ways to remove these friction points and let the deal slip through the system. Make the demo personalized by finding out what they want to see and then showing them only that. For the contract, make sure you need all that legal language. Perhaps you don’t and a one-page or two-page agreement is fine. When it comes to references, try creating a video of the same people who would be giving references. All these subtle but strategic adjustments to your sales process could knock weeks off the end of your cycle and help you add more new customers much quicker.
They Make A Decision — It’s You!
Great news! They want to hire you. This is your opportunity to get them to refer you to other people like them. Wait, you think you need to deliver before you ask for a referral? Nope, this is the perfect time to ask.
Again, we’re working with people. Human beings find comfort in groups. So, they want their purchase decision validated by as many other people as possible. They cay say, "If John hires them, then I must have made the right choice." Or, if the project goes south, they can easily say, "John also hired them, how would I know they were bad?"
Regardless, take this opportunity to leverage their decision to hire you by asking them for the names of other people just like them whom you can also help. If they had a remarkable experience, this should be easy.
Now You Delight Them
Some would argue that now the hard part starts. You must deliver what you promised during the sales process. This is important, because if you over-promise and under-deliver, you won’t get the referrals, references, reviews and support you need to keep the cycle going. The advocacy part of the process will be broken.
Don’t underestimate how important it is to deliver a remarkable service and remarkable products. This element is core and should be core to your marketing. If the delivery isn’t remarkable, your marketing and sales effort is going to get exponentially more difficult and exponentially more expensive.
The experience described above looks linear, but it’s circular. The better you service your customers, the more referrals you’ll get, the more positive reviews you'll receive, the more case studies and testimonials you'll gain, and the more references you’ll have access to. Customer advocacy is a key part of this process and to ignore that will impact your ability to market and sell going forward. Your business has never been more transparent and prospects have never had more insight into how you’re doing. Make that a major focus in 2017 or risk having to invest much more in marketing to fill up the leak in your bucket.
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