In case you missed it, the world changed. The sales funnel created in 1899 is over. Today, people don’t flow down through a gravity enabled funnel popping out at the bottom as customers. People don’t want to talk to sales reps. They don’t want to be sold to at all and with the advent of ad blockers, spam filters, do not call lists and DVRs the old marketing and sales playbooks no longer work.
Not sold yet? Consider this research.
"HubSpot is software and software alone rarely solves challenges for business but pair HubSpot with a strategic and creative approach to your prospect’s buyer journey and the clouds part, the sun comes out and companies see more leads, more sales opportunities and more new customers"
HubSpot Research reported that only 23% of the companies surveyed were consistently hitting their revenue goals month over month.
Harvard Business Review published that only 1.9% of CMOs reported that their companies have an ability to leverage marketing analytics to make smart marketing decisions.
McKinsey & Company found in their research “that the customer journey is not rigidly linear, as depicted in the sales funnel model, but rather circular. It is a network of touch points, decisions and opportunities that are either appropriated or rejected by the buyer.”
Great, everything we thought we knew about sales and marketing is now changed. How do you respond to these changes to build a predictable, scalable, repeatable revenue machine that ensures they hit their goals month over month?
The answer is with a deep and strategic understanding of your prospect’s buyer journey and by applying technology to make what is a complex set of touches as easy to personalize and execute as possible.
Enter HubSpot. There are several marketing automation tools on the market, but HubSpot is by far the leading option for small to mid-sized businesses who are looking for basic blocking and tackling around marketing, sales and even customer service execution.
Fair warning. HubSpot is software and software alone rarely solves challenges for business but pair HubSpot with a strategic and creative approach to your prospect’s buyer journey and the clouds part, the sun comes out and companies see more leads, more sales opportunities and more new customers.
HubSpot is the easy part. It’s easy to buy, easy to set up, very intuitive to use and with little training marketers and sales teams can start to more efficiently manage their marketing and sales tactical execution. They can send emails, build landing pages, update their website, add lead generating conversion content to their site, automate social media posting, grow their blog subscribers and better manage leads through their existing sales process.
What’s not as easy and what gets skipped in most companies is the marketing and sales strategy exercises that can be easily covered as part of a buyer journey mapping effort.
First, what are the stages in the buyer journey. We’ve already established that the sales funnel is history; so what are the stages? We use the Cyclonic Buyer Journey model, which includes eight stages.
• Pre-awareness for those people who would be perfect for you (targeted accounts) but who don’t know you or your products yet.
• Awareness for those people who are starting to consider their options but are only casually looking around, they’re not proactive in their search for information yet.
• Education for people who have moved into a proactive search mode to learn about how to solve their challenges.
• Consideration when people have narrowed their options and are now considering one specific type of approach to solving their challenges. For example, doing nothing is always an option in any sales cycle, these people have decided that doing nothing is NOT an option.
• Evaluating when people realize they need to speak with a rep or company contact to get more detailed information they’ll need to make a purchase decision. This is usually where the MQL (marketing qualified lead) moves to a SQL (sales qualified lead) and sales picks up the ball.
• Rationalization when people have already made their emotional decision (people make purchase decisions emotionally and then rationalize them) but now need to work out the details like start date, payment terms, and team configuration. Many deals die in this stage because sales doesn’t recognize this as an important stage in the buyer journey.
• Decision when people make that final decision and give you their verbal. You can lose the new customer hear too if your contracts or terms are too rigid.
• Delivery when you hand off your new customer to your services team and the experience must continue to be amazing or the bloom quickly falls of the rose and our new customer becomes a new dissatisfied customer. Today our businesses are much more transparent with reviews, references, and referrals much more public than ever before. If your customers are not getting an amazing experience your sales are going to suffer.
At each stage of the prospect’s buyer journey and potentially each stage of the customer journey map out how you want the experience to play out.
What are their goals at each stage? As buyers move through their journey, their goals change. In the beginning it could be about education but in the middle, it becomes about selection and toward the end about making a safe decision.
What problems are they dealing with at each stage? In the early stages it might be about getting consensus at their companies around an issue. At the end of the buyer journey it might be about securing budget or executive sponsorship.
What questions are people asking during each stage? This clearly gives us a content strategy map and the ability to create content in all shapes, sizes and formats depending on the stage and the people digesting your content. If you do a good job answering their questions with your content you’ll drive up lead numbers dramatically.
What marketing and sales tactics do we need at each stage? Tactics need to be deployed by stage today so you might as well start looking at tactics by stage now. Some will cross stages like email and lead nurturing can work in the Education, Consideration and Evaluation Stages. Other tactics like the collection of tactics in an Account-Based Marketing campaign are all focused on the Pre-Awareness Stage.
What do you want these people to think and feel at each stage? It’s a question marketers don’t ask enough. If people make purchase decisions emotionally then what they think and feel is vitally important. At each stage of their buyer journey those feelings change. You have to drive that.
In the beginning, people are going to be apprehensive, anxious and maybe even a little distrusting. Over time excellent marketing and sales execution moves them to feelings of trust, respect, safety and confidence.
By using a buyer journey mapping methodology and thinking through each stage of your prospect’s buyer journey, you’ll be able to use tools like HubSpot to deploy marketing and sales tactics that deliver the experience you want for your prospects and your new customers.
Once that’s done, you’ll quickly see leads, sales opportunities and new customers increasing month over month. You’ll have the Revenue Generation Machine of your dreams and your business will thrive.