In a past podcast with Grant Leboff, Selling in the Digital World and author of Digital Selling: How to Use Social Media and the Web to Generate Leads and Sell More, we briefly touched upon today’s sales funnel. He reminded me that the original sales funnel and still the one in general use today was developed by Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898. We appeal to as many people as we can and narrow them down to the point of sale. Not a bad run for any system. This was refined by the Fuller Brush people going door to door and refined even more by the next generation of cold-callers. The only real revision in this method has been the use of further marketing techniques developed for referral strategies.
It has even taken another step with the advent of digital and email marketing and social media. Which in turn has created an abundance of people selling systems. I go all the way back to the Dan Kennedy, Tellman Knudson and the sideway picture product launch by Jeff Walker. I am up to speed with current thoughts of Ryan Deiss, Ryan Levesque, Salim Ismail, Verne Harnish, Phil Fernandez (Marketo)and Aaron Ross (SalesForce). We construct Sales and Marketing Funnels and other tools thinking that we can create a customer/opportunity from it. I am not saying any of this is wrong because just by the actual application of some type of process, we are going to focus and become more effective and maybe even more efficient.
However, all basically use the same technique; appealing to mass audiences. I call this method a Funnel of Depletion. With this method, you push out a lot of information, hoping it reaches the right people. Whether it is Inbound or Outbound Marketing, there is still a lot spraying and praying going on. Worst of all it takes a tremendous amount of time, resources and money to appeal to the masses.
In the Funnel of Opportunity, we think about marketing in the reverse order. We start with our core customer and core value proposition. With a start-up, it is with our beachhead market. When we start our marketing with core customers; things begin to change. We create better relationships and a higher level of learning opportunities. Thus, we can communicate more effectively across more channels and/or people within our customers, develop more business development opportunities and connect with influencers. You must be willing to dig deep to understand customers. It becomes all about engagement and building effective feedback loops. These loops become our method of learning. We use this learning to provide more value to our customers and participate with them at the relevant edges of the use of our products/services.
The Funnel of Opportunity is created from the edges of these learnings. We learn how and who to engage with in other organizations. We build upon the known toward the unknown. Always reaching out pushing the edges, looking for adjacency in our markets. It is not about creating a downstream or upstream in some funnel; it is about being relevant in our customer’s market. This type of thinking is outcome-based. A defined outcome provides a set of standards so that we can be prepared for our engagements. By having these standards, it creates a set of boundaries for us to work in and when we hit an obstacle, it is just a pause because we know where we are headed.
How often do you assume you know what your customers want? How often do you create marketing and sales campaigns internally? How much time and money do you waste marketing to the masses?