Most people who have been in sales for even a few short years have heard about The SALES FUNNEL.
You might have first encountered a sales funnel the first time you were introduced to a CRM like Salesforce, where the opportunity manager helped you see how big your pipeline was and helped you strategize how many opportunities you needed to add to meet and exceed your goals.
But what the heck is a sales funnel anyways?
A sales funnel is the marketing term for the journey a potential customer goes through on the way to purchase. There are several steps to a sales funnel, usually known as the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel, although these steps may vary depending on a company’s sales model. (“What is a Sales Funnel? Stages & How to Create One | Keap”)
Did anyone ever explain to you what any of this means in terms of your role in that journey?
No one did for me. Not in almost 30 years in sales.
And then I heard these three words.
And I had one of those lightbulb moments.
Today we are going to take that journey together, to better understand what we are asking our prospects to experience, think about, and decide with us on the way to, one day, with hard work and a little bit o’ luck, becoming customers of ours.
Let’s say you sit down tomorrow to do some research and add some new prospects to your pipeline. You identify 5 new financial institutions that you are pretty sure would make great customers for you based on what you can offer them and how you have helped banks or credit unions in the past.
Your goal is to turn as many of those suspects into clients as quickly as possible. There are 3 things that need to be activated in the buyer’s experience to make the leap to agreeing to do work with you.
KNOW. The prospect needs to be able to have heard your name, know your company, or have some sense that they know who you are, both individually and as a company. Arguably this is the job of marketing, social media, your website, and you and your sales process. In a perfect world, all these elements would be working together to create awareness and make your job oh so much easier.
But absent a marketing department and a kick-ass website, the rest is up to you. Regularly engaging with your community on social media, and consistently growing that community, is within your control. It is making attempts to converse with the prospect across and through all the channels available to you. If you are the best-kept secret in your area, your job is to remedy that. With calls. And emails, and visits and sending stuff through the good ole USPS.
LIKE. Once they know who you are and what you do and how you can help, it is time to turn on the charm. Now they need to LIKE you and your company. How do you make this magic happen? Through your blog. And other content that you post. And your newsletter. And through talking to your customer service rep when they have a question. Customer testimonials, case studies, and related stories specific to how you have helped other companies solve their problems all take a person down the road to LIKESVILLE.
TRUST. Finally, they need to feel confident and solid enough so you can do what you said you can do. Because don’t forget, trusting you requires faith, and it represents work on their part. Getting to know you, your team, and how you do things can be an all-new and scary experience. You can offer a demo, a sample, or access to others who are willing to give you a reference. All these things build trust and confidence and make it easier for someone to say YES to you.
A sales funnel is a crucial tool to helping you make sure you have enough opportunity in your pipeline to reach and exceed your goals. Understanding the KNOW LIKE TRUST journey that a potential customer goes on BEFORE they become your customer should help you and your team make sure that all your bases are covered, and you are making that decision as easy on someone as possible.
As a sales and marketing coach and consultant at Success In Print, and Girl #2 at #GirlsWhoPrint, Kelly Mallozzi advocates for graphic arts companies to keep fighting to keep print relevant. She may be irreverent, but what she lacks in convention, she makes up for in smart-assery.
Kelly is a regular co-host on the #GirlsWhoPrint Podcast along with Deborah Corn. She is also a mentor to several future sales stars. Check out her book, co-authored by Bill Farquharson: Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How. Kelly also occasionally guest blogs at Printing Impressions and you can see her most recent posts here.