A funnel: is a tube or pipe that is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom (or my personal favourite description- A funnel: a device in which you drink beer from). However, I am here to talk about the sales and marketing funnel, symmetrical in form which looks at visitors, leads, opportunities, customers (in that order). With the age-old battle of sales vs marketing how does this impact the look of the funnel?
The reality is that the sales/marketing funnel looks more like a figure standing in front of a fun house mirror and not the streamline pipelines every company desires. As a company we know exactly who our customers are, and we know (roughly) how many visitors we have (thanks to the wonderful world of technology tracking our every move). However, if the number of visitors is much to be desired, businesses throw a much wider net and bring in a number of leads, which in turn create an odd-looking funnel.
So how can we better shape our sales & marketing funnel?
- Improve awareness: Before you sell anything, you need to make people aware of your product or service. There are many different tactics and tools that companies use in which to raise awareness to get people in the initial stage of the pipeline.
- Interest: You’ve hooked the fish but now you need to reel it in. People showing initial interest within the company need further nurturing to better their interest.
- Evaluation: Re-look at the target audience, question if these are the right people to be going after. Is the company within the right industry? Do they have the applications to support your product or service? With technology such as intent data and install base it is much easier to narrow down who really is more interested within your offerings and you can decipher your audience much easier.
- Engagement: Make the initial contact. Understand their interest, ask valuable questions to enable you to better assist them. What can you be doing to better assist them? Engagement is a lengthy process (and needs to be done in several stages of nurturing) in order to bring you to…
- Commitment/ purchase (This being the desired outcome for all companies of course)
By focusing on interest, evaluation and engagement in particular it enables you to better depict your ideal target audience rather than just casting your wider net. This in turn should streamline your marketing and sales funnel rather than having a much heavier ‘lead’ stage which should efficiently impact the opportunities and customer stages.
How to craft the perfect conversation with your audience
Everyone is familiar with the acronym BANT and what it stands for; budget, authority, need and timeframe. It was created by IBM back in the 60’s as a tool for sales teams to define whether a lead was of good quality or not. However, at Martech Tracker we are increasingly seeing that the best way to engage with a prospect via telemarketing, is to curate insightful profiling questions rather than using BANT questioning. We believe you’re able to understand your audience better this way and tailor your marketing accordingly.
By working with our clients to devise profiling questions, it allows us to generate the perfect conversation with their audiences and gain an invaluable understanding into the prospect and where they are in their sales journey.
Why is this happening?
We believe the reason for this move away from BANT questioning is because customers’ needs have changed drastically in the last 20 or so years. It isn’t necessarily appropriate anymore to ask prospects their budgets first off, and more and more there isn’t one decision maker in a team but a group of people, so asking to speak to the singular authoritative person doesn’t match today’s working world.
Need is still necessary and is something that should be explored but something we believe should be crafted into a profiling question rather than included in a full set of BANT questions. Timeframe is the last of the four pillars, and is something needs to be considered however, we find that giving prospects two or three timeframe options we gain better insight into their buying journey. Therefore, we always try to build a question that matches this.
How to design these profiling questions?
With the increasing move away from BANT questioning, there are a few key things we think about when creating profiling questions:
- Firstly, we build a question around the importance of the product that we are discussing. We try and find out from this question, where the prospect is in their mind set about the product.
- Secondly, we create something that focuses on the usage of the product; whether the prospect uses it at all and if so, how often.
- Thirdly, we try and find out the prospect’s timeframe of how often they review their current version of the product we are discussing. This helps us gage whether they are in the market for changing supplier, or version of the product.
For all these questions, we provide a few options in a bracketed style that the prospect can choose from. We find this way more successful in receiving answers from the prospect.
Increasingly we are finding there is a move away from BANT questioning and devising profiling questions is what we are seeing more and more of. We believe it is generating better insight too due to customers’ needs developing and the work world changing.
How do we create these questions? There are three main areas that we look to build questions in; the importance, usage and timeframe and always try and provide drop down answers to make it as simple for the prospect to provide insightful information to us quickly.