The traditional sales funnel – prospecting, awareness, activation, conversion and sales – has had its day. This is a big headache for lots of companies and has its origin in the way people buy, consume, gather information, and do business. These days consumers gather information on their terms, using the channels they prefer. They tend to leapfrog the buyer’s journey from start to finish because of variables like urgency, price point, or an immediate business problem they are trying to address. Buyers don’t take a linear path anymore.
The new reality is that the B2B decision-making process for buying products or using services is done through collaboration. The bigger the company or the more expensive the product, the greater the number of people involved in the decision-making process. Here’s the proof: these days the average deal has over 8 decision makers, a 43% increase from 3 years ago.
In short, customers do what they want, when they want and how they want. They don’t gather information in predictable patterns anymore.
Q: Is the sales funnel and micro segmentation the answer to this question?
A: Nope. What funnel?
People say the sales funnel is changing in today’s digital world and the way customers buy is no longer a simple path from awareness to prospect to sale. The reality is that the funnel is dead and everything has changed from straightforward to the super-unknown.
Things have gotten messy. Many things like workflow automation, micro segmentation, expensive and complicated sales tech tools, conversion management, funnel metrics to track every step in the process, are not working.
But you can still make sense of the madness by applying a circle of continuous engagement through a transparent system called the Platform Revolution.
Shift from the obsolete sales funnel to a customer lifecycle view
Focus on developing ever-deeper relationships with your customers during their ongoing customer experience journey with your company.
Be actively engaged with prospects during their decision-making journey
Provide easy access to information and reviews to help prospects evaluate your company, product, and services against that of the competition. Opinion influencers – such as product reviews, ratings, and testimonials – are critical. In addition, provide convenient contact resources, such as online chat that answers questions, while prospects are still on your website.
Understand your customer’s journey from pre-sale to post-sale
Understanding the factors that make customers want to purchase from you – and then stay with you after the sale – lets you highlight your product/service benefits and then use these key selling points in your marketing.
Be easily accessible across all channels
Consumers are shopping via multiple channels and devices, often at the same time. Don’t create barriers by being unavailable or making it difficult to engage on the channels that your customers prefer.
Don’t forget about customers after you ring the register
Keep customers actively engaged via preference-driven, personalized communication and experiences. Provide ongoing information to improve their lives, solicit feedback, and stimulate purchases of relevant new and add-on products. Make them part of your company’s community through a multichannel, relationship-focused continuous cycle of engagement.
At all times in your engagement effort think in terms of people, rather than platforms. That may sound easier said than done. That’s where data comes in. Data is the master unifier, and it’s the best way to maximize marketing spend in the current funnel mess. First-party data, collected by a company directly from its own customers, not only provides more accurate ad targeting, it also offers fresh new insights so that it can develop the “magic sauce” for a unique service offering.
It’s time to think beyond outdated sales funnels and join the platform revolution:
Götz Thümecke is the CEO of Eventerprise. Connect with him on Twitter: @GotzCEO