The repeat customer is even better, since they are actually making another purchase. They may need no help from you to make this purchase, or they make be shuffled back into the sales process again, where you need to educate, allow for evaluation, engage, and push a commitment. Once again, this depends on the specifics of your industry. We’ll go over more information about repeat customers before the end of this article.
At this stage, your prospect is evaluating you, your company, and your products and services. They are taking a closer look at what you have to offer than they were in the discovery phase. They are also looking at other options to see how you compare to them. At this point, you have probably sent them an initial quote or proposal and are answering any detailed questions they have.
Following their information search — or sometimes running concurrently with this process — potential customers start comparing the alternatives that your article has discussed. Again, the time spent in this stage will vary based on the type of purchase being contemplated. Choosing a restaurant might be as simple as deciding, “Well, I feel like Chinese food, not Mexican, tonight.”
Offer a free mini course: If you are in the business of monetizing your knowledge and expertise, a mini course is an excellent way to provide additional value to your visitors while also building your own image as an expert. Mini courses might take more work to create, but they also have the benefit of being perceived as more valuable than ebooks and PDFs.
Prospects next need time to figure out if making a purchase is the best option. At this point, it often makes sense to back off a bit. In our car salesman example, an important part of the evaluation process is the test drive. Depending on your industry, you may want to give someone a free sample or demo. If you aren’t selling in-person, videos can be extremely effective here. Often, during the evaluation process, prospects need to talk to others about the potential purchase, so this is where building up a loyal fan base comes in handy.
But, once you have enough experience to be eligible (and are likely itching for a promotion), they start marketing to you. It might be email marketing or an email list-based retargeting campaign, but these graduate programs do their level best to get back on your radar. It’s a long-term play, but it’s one that works incredibly well because the schools know exactly when their students are “ready to buy” again.
Remarketing: This is a bit of an advanced paid advertising tactic and it has a learning curve. With remarketing, you target people who have visited your site and send ads to them on other platforms like Google or Facebook. Have you ever noticed that when you check out a shirt on Amazon, that shirt suddenly starts following you around the internet? That’s remarketing at work. With a solid remarketing strategy, you can even target visitors of specific pages on your site—like people who visited the sales page for product A and not product B—and send hyper-targeted ads.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re trying to sell someone a coaching program that costs $1000. A lead comes to your blog, likes a post, and signs up for your mailing list. If your first email is a sales pitch for your coaching program, how many people will buy it? A small percentage, to be sure, especially if your blog posts are directly related to coaching program. However, by adding a few more steps, you can more easily encourage a sale. Your sales funnel might instead look like this:
While everyone evaluates their options at this stage in the buying process, how carefully they evaluate their options depends a lot on their personality and the cost of the solution. Generally speaking, the more financially conservative your target audience is and expensive your solution is, the more comparison shopping your potential buyers will do.
Now that you know the stages and strategies for the new digital marketing funnel, it’s time to put it all into action with a content distribution plan. To start, create an asset list in Microsoft Excel (I’ve included a downloadable template for you below). In your asset list, you should include all of your online marketing assets, including your landing pages (an easy way to do this is to run a crawl of your website with a tool like ScreamingFrog), ad creatives, blog posts, case studies, white papers—anything that’s come out of your marketing department.
Hello Sunil.. thank you for your feedback, it’s great to hear that you are finding this article useful. Re your question: yes, it makes sense to follow-up as often as you need to to reach the decision-maker. At the early stage of cold calling / emailing / SMS you may have to follow-up 6-12 times with a combination of cold calls and cold emails before you get to kick-started with your prospective customer. Obviously if they unsubscribe or say no then you have to respect this. At later stages, non-response would indicate that your prospective customer no longer sees (or has doubts) about the potential value of the solution you are selling. After following-up 2 times at a later stage, I would make it easy for your prospect to voice their concerns by communicating something like: “I’m struggling to reach you, perhaps we could hop on a call for 5 minutes as I’d like to understand your current thoughts rather than assume you are no longer interested in progressing.”
If you're wondering what a sales funnel is, simply imagine a real-world funnel. At the top of that funnel, some substance is poured in, which filters down towards one finite destination. In sales, something similar occurs. At the top, lots of visitors arrive who may enter your funnel. However, unlike the real-world funnel, not all who enter the sales funnel will reemerge out from the other end.
Both matter. There’s a very well-known coffee brand that has great company policies, friendly staff, and an overall cool attitude, but I just think the products tastes like dirt. So, I don’t purchase from them anymore. At the same time, there’s another coffee brand I’ve tried, with amazing products at a great price, but they have what I consider to be unethical practices…so I don’t purchase from them either. As a consumer, both the product/service and the company matter to me, and this is true of most people, even those who don’t realize it.
Presales: If you know exactly which product you want to sell but haven’t created it yet, then preselling might be something you should look into. There are several benefits to preselling including: generating revenue before your product is launched (which you can later invest in your product), testing different pricing points for your product, validating demand for your idea, gathering feedback about your product before it’s launched.
PR/Press: This tactic consists of getting media coverage for your content, brand, or business. Media outlets and publications have built large audiences over a long time—that’s what their entire business model is about—so if you can tap into that, it can mean a significant boost of traffic to your site. PR is all about having an interesting angle that is newsworthy and presenting it in the right way to journalists and reporters.
If you’re a small business owner, you might be a one-man (or one-woman) show, wearing several hats, including both sales and marketing. As your business grows, though, you’ll need to hire people for your team. One of the biggest mistakes I see companies make over and over again is having their sales team and marketing team work completely independently of one another.
You can do this all by caring. Reach out and ask for reviews. Engage with them on social media. Offer them an insider-only discount. Give them something for free on their birthday. Give them advice for free. There are literally hundreds of customer retention tactics out there—find the ones that best suit your products and business. One simple—and cost-effective—way to care is with personalization.
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Marketers should tap every opportunity to develop a relationship with the buyer at this stage. This is often done through monitoring reviews of the products, testimonials from previous customers, inbound marketing, having a great graphic interface to draw attention, delivering more information to the customer, etc. This is a crucial stage of the marketing funnel as it is chiefly at this stage that the prospective buyer would want to remain in or leave the funnel.
“Time is money for a rep,” said Tony Rodoni, Salesforce EVP, Commercial Sales, and Market Readiness. “You need to know the most important thing to do right now, and what to do next. If you’re not clear on which opportunities are accurate, you’re relying on your memory to know which ones need work. As you take on a bigger book of business, with more opportunities, quarter after quarter, relying on your own memory means mistakes and wasted time.”
There’s a better solution: Build out an automated email follow-up campaign that speaks directly to this objection. Any time you encounter this problem, you can send that prospect information that seems designed just for them. A multi-month educational campaign may reduce their content anxiety and nurture them toward a sale. Yes, it’s work up front, but once finished, this campaign will work for you always.
Principle of commitment & consistency -- When people commit to something, they're far more likely to purchase from you. That's why getting them to agree to something like a free + shipping offer or by agreeing with something you've said in some way. This is a powerful principle in sales and if you pay attention to some of the best marketers in the world, you'll notice that they work fervently to get your commitment to something, even if it's very small in the beginning.
Some business owners are moving away from the term “marketing funnel” because they think it’s too mechanical or simplistic to describe the lead nurturing sequence by which customers move from awareness to purchase. I think it’s still a useful way to describe a complex process and it’s a good visual to imagine the entire process from start to finish.