Almost all sales teams I know talk about the sales funnel when sales are asked how leads, prospects, and offers are doing. The sales funnel also the tool for sales teams to drive your process. But for your internal organization and not the process with your new customer. After all, that new customer is not in your sales funnel.
The most common mistake made by sales & marketing teams within organizations is to focus on their sales process when conducting activities. Your customer is not engaged in your sales process but in his buying process. He is controlled and coordinated in selecting a new IT partner.
That should become the focus of your attention and content communication.
Mismatch in perception
Many organizations do not know quite what stage their new customer is at in decision-making, creating a mismatch in everything. An excellent example of IT companies is that when approaching new customers, they directly position their services or explain their technology. And customers can certainly be interested in that, but it depends on the stage within the customer’s buying process – such as the need or invitation stage. But often, sales misfires and expensive marketing dollars are spent with the wrong message and at the wrong time.
The customer buying process begins with awareness. They need to become aware of developments, the possibilities, and of you. Awareness is about multiple issues with your new client:
- Trends in their industry
- Trends in digitization
- IT’s potential for their industry
- Developments in IT technology
- Who you are as a company
Awareness is all about helping your new customer get relevant information on topics that will make your customer understand more. Information that is a trigger for them to read on. In offering this information, it is important who you want to help with – the director, operations, or IT.
In most companies focused on their own sales process, this stage does not exist. Most can say that these potential new customers are in their database.
There are also companies operating with content marketing. They call potential customers who read their information, Marketing Qualified Leads – or MQLs. Whether qualified or not via tracking their reading habits. With just Marketing Qualified Leads, of course, you’re not there yet. Informing your new audience is a process focused on awareness with information that helps shape their needs.
The need development
When people at the organization become aware of the problems and opportunities within your field of work, they develop a need. The need for their organization or their work. You can help them during this awareness phase and support your new client with your knowledge in developing this need.
At that stage, it’s mainly about the organization’s situation and capabilities rather than the benefits of your services. This is where the interplay of sales and marketing comes into play. They must enter into the conversation with the organization to outline a perspective. How (the latest) IT capabilities affect their business, organization, and competitive position, among other things.
This stage is often different in the sales process. Take a prospect or lead; sales often want to work toward issuing a quote fairly quickly. But the question is whether your new customer is within their buying process at that stage.
Your sales funnel as a constraint
Do you know the big difference between focusing on your customer’s buying process and your own sales process? Helping your new customer buy or trying to sell something to him – this is a substantial difference. We often see opportunities missed because organizations measure and manage based on the sales funnel. Discounts fly over the counter to force a decision, but getting a grip on the prospect often fails.
You can change this, when you as an organization:
- clear focus on your target audience
- what issues are at play there
- what value you provide
- your commercial process is focused on the buying process
- and can monitor that well via marketing tools and/or sales tools
This seems like a simple list, but it involves quite a bit. You have to focus as an organization on changing your people, your processes, and possibly your technology. We can help you do that by explicitly sharpening, strengthening your Go-to-Market, and focusing on your target audience.
Who will be your next customer? And the next? And after?
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