Every good #smarketing team has mapped out their sales funnel, and while it may not look exactly like a funnel (that’s ok, all funnels are different), just knowing the steps that your buyers are likely to take on their way to conversion is the first step to getting that sale. But after you build that funnel, does it just end up in a desk drawer somewhere, never again to see the light of day?
Time to dust off that sales funnel and take a good hard look at it, because it may have sprung a few leaks when you were off being the world’s best smarketer.
ALSO READ: Why You Need to Diversify Your Lead Pipeline
Finding and plugging the leaks in your sales funnel isn’t that difficult, but it will require you and your team to take a hard look at which tactics are working and which tactics, though well loved, might not be the best fit for your target customers.
Signs your sales funnel has sprung a leak (or formed a clog)
- Your leads don’t consistently follow the shape of the funnel.
- Your leads have dried up entirely.
- The quality of your leads has dipped, or lead quality is inconsistent.
- Your funnel loses a lot of leads in the last stages.
Not all is lost, however. With a little bit of analysis and taking a step back from your day to day, you can find the sales funnel leaks that are causing you so much trouble. Let’s start by looking at the three stages of the funnel: Top of the Funnel (TOFU), Middle of the Funnel (MOFU), and Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU).
Finding leaks in the TOFU
Yeah, not that tofu. The top of the funnel should be your largest lead grouping, and it’s also where much of your audience will stay forever or drop off. You should expect that you’re going to get a lot of visitors to your website, but only about 1% of your website visitors might ever make it into your lead pipeline. Expect and plan for those numbers and you should be ok.
All of that awareness and good SEO-heavy content on your blog and in your social media timelines lives up here at the top of the funnel. But this content should serve a purpose other that just gaining you lots of brand awareness.
Read over your most popular blog posts and your most shared content. Do the sharers of your content match your targeted customer? What types of readers are you targeting with your posts? Do they look like your target customer? If your engaged readers don’t match your marketing personas, take a little time to review where your previous content may have missed the mark and how well your planned content targets those personas.
Do you hit folks with a sales pitch too soon? Readers and content searchers at the TOFU are generally looking for more information, so treat them like the awareness-stage-dwellers they are. While they may show interest by signing up for a newsletter or sharing your content on social media, that doesn’t mean they want to buy right now.
Use any social interactions you get as an opportunity to further engage, but tread lightly–and publicly. Save DMs for more engaged users or customer support questions, instead of asking for follow-backs and trying to start a cold conversation.
Plug the leak
Go back to your personas and figure out who your buyers are.
- Are you writing content that targets these personas, or have you strayed?
- What information can you gather about this audience from the type of content they look at on your site?
- How can you interact with this group based on their interests?
Don’t worry if your TOFU comes on too strong, you can fix it. Re-focus your content efforts on your target audience and start to build a little value-added cushion around your TOFU for those readers who aren’t ready to move down the conversion funnel.
MOFU: Take the time to nurture
You would think that MOFU was a bad word the way some smarketing teams treat it, but the middle of the funnel can’t be ignored. This is where all of that good nurturing work happens, warming those leads so you can hand them off to sales reps to close.
Content at the middle of the funnel can be really tricky: a lot of companies have an imbalance of content either too high or too low in the funnel rather than ensuring consistent content all the way through.
Content at the middle of the funnel should continue to be informative, but should also begin to separate you from your competitors. Show off what makes you different, but beware of super-salesy talk. These leads are still looking for information, and you want to present your solution as helpful, not all about the $$$.
What content do you offer that is high value? Are you making this content available at the right time and to the right people? ICs and directors have totally different control over purchasing decisions, so it’s important to make sure you’re engaging decision-makers. There’s nothing worse than getting a prospect all the way through the funnel just to have them turn around and say “Let me run this by my boss.” That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t engage non-decision-makers, it just means that you have to have a game plan for when they need approval.
In the middle of the funnel your touches should feel more personalized, but use the information you have on your leads and your marketing automation tool to easily personalize according to interest groups. Once they’ve shown interest by signing up for a newsletter, group leads into (reasonable) categories based on your targeted personas and the content they’ve already interacted with.
Once you’ve separated your potential buyers into groups you can better personalize the nurture content you send these customers. Continue to build interest in your brand by connecting across channels and add value for them to get them ready for that eventual sale.
Plug the leak
Review your email touches and social interactions; are you reaching the right people?
- Where in your email nurture campaigns and your social campaigns do prospects interact with your content, and where do they click unsubscribe?
- Do leads come back and interact with more of your content?
- Do they choose to engage with longer and more in-depth content like webinars?
- Look at your calls to action. What direction do you point leads in, and how easy do you make it for them to take the next step?
Finally, calibrate your lead scoring in your sales intelligence tools. If you can’t remember the last time you looked at the tools (like most of us), chances are you need to review your lead scoring. The folks at Socedo suggest adjusting your lead scoring every month to stay in line with your most current audience.
BOFU: Make the sale
Check that your content across channels (and in the hands of sales reps) consistently presents your tool as the best option for the customer’s needs. While website landing pages can be great for this, make sure that sales has plenty of resources to hand out to leads.
At this stage, each of the lead interactions should be highly personalized. Like, you write an email just for that lead, make a phone call, send a letter, contract a carrier pigeon. Offer help and information, and encourage continued interaction to get closer to the sale.
Plug the leak
Because moving to the sale often involves a handoff between departments, make sure that all teams involved have high visibility into the others’ processes, and have open conversations about what kinds of leads turn into good customers.
- Make sure everyone documents all touches in your CRM.
- Pair sales reps together to learn from one another, or try a marketing/sales shadow day.
- Have sales document the kinds of questions their customers ask at this part of the process. Can you produce documents that answer those questions quickly and clearly?
- Follow up with lost leads to find out why they went in a different direction.
Like much of sales and marketing, your target audience will continue to evolve, so take a periodic look at how your sales funnel works. With an analytic approach and a documented process, your smarketing funnel will continue to improve, and so will your sales.
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