If you are planning b2b lead generation campaigns and haven’t thought about your sales funnel, it’s high time you did. For those new to the term sales funnel, it essentially defines the journey your prospective clients go through from the point at which you acquire them as a prospect, to converting them into a sale.
Stage 1 – Top of the Lead Generation Sales Funnel
At the top level you should be thinking about awareness building. Therefore broader media relations, advertising or event led campaigns might be appropriate. Once a prospect is aware of your business and or product they enter your funnel and you need to tweak your campaigns and messaging appropriately.
Stage 2 – From Visitors to Leads
Next your objective should be more about increasing the prospective customers’ interest in your product. You might do this through a direct mail piece outlining the core benefits your are offering. Include a call to action to drive your targets to a website landing page with more detail to increase the impact of your piece. Alternatively you might host a series of webinars where your sales or pre-sales teams can go into a little more detail about the product feature sets and the benefits to the customer.
Stage 3 – Increasing Desire
Assuming all is going well and your targets are moving through the funnel, your next objective is to heighten the desire of your targets to purchase your product or solution. This might be achieved by providing a case study about how one of their peers, or even one of their competitors, used your product. The case study might focus on how they achieved massive sales growth, or significant cost savings, or XXX, simply insert the key drivers that motivate your customers. You might integrate this with a strong call to action to view a demo of your product online, or to meet with you.
Stage 4 – Marketing Qualified Sales Leads
At this point your sales funnel is nurturing hot leads who have a greater willingness to purchase and it’s time to pass the lead over to your sales team (if you haven’t already). The sales manager will step in with a carefully timed call and invite your target to meet and discuss their needs in more detail.
Your marketing communications must now support the sales manager in convincing the target to take action and buy your product. For example you may need some printed sales collateral, or perhaps a customer experience centre for them to visit, or maybe you have some hospitality lined up.
Now those still paying attention may have noticed something quite important here. In moving your targets through the sales funnel, you’ve actually employed quite range of marketing communications tactics. To reiterate:
Gaining awareness to fill your pipeline
Developing their interest
Direct mail piece
Website landing page
Increasing their desire
Customer case study
Taking action to make a purchase
Customer experience centre / demo
Of course it goes without saying you need to ensure your communications and campaigns are consistent and well integrated. In other words, the messages you communicate in your advertising at the top, need to match the sales collateral at the bottom of the funnel. The materials you use should look and feel as though they are all part of the same brand and campaign – a strong brand identity and a good designer will help with this. When pulling your messaging together, consider your target customers needs and wants rather than your products’ feature sets.
Hopefully what you can start to see here is the b2b marketing mix in action, with marketers using a suite of different communications materials to kick start your sales. Not only that, you need to use a different tactic depending on where your prospects are in the sales funnel.
When you next think about new business try to consider a range of tactics to not only fill your sales funnel at the top, but crucially to nurture leads as you move them close to that all important purchase order (or of course to qualify out the time wasters).
Next stop in the funnel is post purchase. What tactics can you employ here to encourage repeat business, referrals or cross-sell and upsell?