This is the third (and last) in a series of blog entries about sick sales funnels. In the first installment, I reviewed symptoms that may indicate the presence of illness. In the second, I discussed questions and issues that could point to a diagnosis. In this installment, I’ll prescribe cures to make the patient fit enough to run triathlons.
Let’s review the obvious tactical remedies.
- Segment and focus like there’s no tomorrow: Your marketplace is not homogenous. You need to carve it into pieces that distinguish themselves from each other by virtue of characteristics pertaining to unique needs and purchasing proclivities. Your content, messaging, style – in other words, everything – need to be tuned for a particular segment. The process is tough, but shortcuts usually generate inferior results.
- Get the process religion: If you haven’t defined your lead generation processes, you can’t measure them. And that means that you can’t tune them in a methodical manner. Your sales funnel is, essentially, out of control without defined processes. Of more importance: The people who work for you can’t do their jobs properly without process documentation.
- Get the measurement religion: You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Metrics underpin funnel management and, ultimately, demand generation success.
- Test – Adjust – Repeat: If you don’t experiment and test on a limited basis before scaling up a campaign, you are not a real marketer. You risk losing a lot of money on big bets that may or may not yield desired results. Lists, content, offers and calls to action require constant review. Think “survival of the fittest”. Ruthless pruning may be required.
Here are more strategic therapies.
- Get the right staff: Effective people trump experienced people. Quality is more important than quantity (be it years of experience, amount of education, or whatever). If you have mutual trust with proven associates from previous jobs, use those people. They can make you look good quickly. Remember to delegate effectively, communicate frequently, and operate transparently.
- Build good lists: You can’t have effective marketing campaigns without good lists. Maintaining list quality today is more complicated due to the explosive growth of sources and data types. Use external lists, outreach and subscriptions to improve the quality of your in-house lists. Devise new ways to encourage people to subscribe to your content.
- Use appropriate performance measures: Marketing organizations typically evaluate themselves based on the number of leads they pass to their sales organizations each month. That’s a reasonable service level agreement for newer or less mature companies, but this standard focuses on quantity rather than quality. Mature businesses or businesses operating in saturated markets should reverse those priorities by implementing lead scoring systems and mapping those probabilities to actual sales. Use a feedback loop to improve your scoring algorithms. If implemented, this helps immensely to align marketing and sales.
- Build relationships through lead nurturing: Sustaining and measuring extended relationships with prospects is a delicate process. You need to maintain awareness, measure interest, and ultimately lock in a preference over a lengthy period. The lead nurture process is not a “one size fits all” proposition. You need to define and use segment-specific nurturing tracks, while scoring prospects dynamically, to glean clues about their propensity to purchase.
Sick funnels cannot be cured overnight. But a faithful application of the doctor’s orders described above can, over the long term, restore a patient to good health. That funnel will run triathlons and be the engine that drives great sales performance.