I am sure we are all familiar with the concept of a sales funnel. Each business’ will look slightly different, but essentially it is a tool which describes the customer or client’s journey to buying:
The client becomes aware of your company (either through actively searching or through passive discovery) and in due course becomes more familiar with who you are and what you offer. When in the market for what you are selling, they will undertake more research into your offering whilst also investigating the services of your competitors. They will consider which is the best option for them and hopefully make a purchase. Depending on their satisfaction and quality of experience, they will choose whether to sing your praises and become an advocate for your brand, or whether to share their negative experience.
Now, this is all very helpful. One must understand the journey that a customer goes on of course. After all, it is our job to gently steer the client through this process. However, I believe that to do this effectively requires us to look at the funnel from a different perspective; our perspective.
So what are the steps that we, as marketers/sales people, need to take to coax those elusive clients to a point where they buy?
You can see that for us, there are just 4 stages involved; Attract, Engage, Nurture and Sell/Deliver corresponding with the journey the client takes. So let’s take these one by one:
Attract: A potential client is only going to discover your business if you attract them. You need to be building your presence – both online and offline – and becoming known as the expert in your field. This opens the door for you to…
Engage: Interacting through social media as well as directly when clients actively enquire affords you the perfect opportunity for you to educate customers regarding what your business can do for them. You will begin to see their increased interest as they communicate back.
Nurture: Although enquirers will be considering your competitors too, if they feel genuinely cared for and invested in by you they will become at ease with you. Build this confidence by taking care of all their queries efficiently, sincerely and completely with their needs in mind. It can take little more than this perfectly executed customer to move enquirers into the purchase stage.
Sell and deliver: You’re wrong if you think that once the sale is made, the journey is over. Not only do you want your clients to receive what they asked you for, but you want to exceed their expectations across the board. This is what will take a client from a past user of your service to a full-blown advocate of your brand. What better way to encourage those at the beginning of the sales funnel through to the next stage than by having your own clients complimenting your service to the wider world online!
Too often we look at marketing from just our own perspective (What shall I do next? What will this cost me?), or just our clients (Which magazines do they buy? Will they ‘get’ our brand?). Really, we need to be looking at marketing as more of a whole to understand how it is we want our clients to behave and how we can help them do so.