The old way went something like this: Pour #X leads into the top of the funnel if you want #X sales at the end of the quarter. Rinse and repeat. To me, this was always a curious process as it had nothing to do with the leads as human beings dealing with problems, but played percentages.
The new way is about being found when a buyer goes looking. Being considered valuable enough for a dialog and then building that initial interaction into engagement through consistent, relevant exchanges of information that help buyers make decisions.Marketing in this new era requires some shifts in thinking.Instead of choosing your leads, they choose you.
If you try to control the information flow, they'll go find what they need somewhere else.Instead of products, buyers want ideas and strategic insights.The sales cycle is now the buying journey.Pull is more important than push.Outside-in trumps Inside-outPeers are more integral to decisions than companies.So what does marketing do now?Marketing must flip their focus from their companies and products to their customers.
A lot of companies say they are, but according to customers, they're missing the boat.When you think about your lead database, for example, do you think about "Jerry" or do you think about SMBs with $50M - $100M in revenue and 100+ employees in the financial services industry?
Do you think about what your customers need to confidently deal with that new industry regulation, or do you think: "product X is what they need" Product X may very well be an option to solving their problem, but you have to start thinking about how buyers deal with problems. They need to learn how to think about solving them, factors to consider and options and alternatives.
Before they even get to thinking about your product, they need to develop a level of competence about the issue that gives them the confidence to make a decision.That's an entirely different informational need than the feeds and speeds about your product.If you continue to think of the sales funnel as a volume and percentage play, making the shift to marketing in a buyers' world is going to be harder than it has to be.
In this kind of an economic market, can you afford to hold on to old thinking?I submit that the funnel is now a cylinder. It invites your prospects in at one end and then creates a consistent delivery and exchange of strategic ideas, information and insights to help them progress from priority shift through purchase decision. What's your view of the new sales funnel?
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