Sales and marketing is a key tool to customer acquisition, especially for startups that sell products/services to either customers, or to other business. To get this right, you must get your sales process as effective as possible. How could you make sales process more effective? Before a customer buys your product or services he or she goes through different stages. As a “target”, the customer has a problem and wants a solution to it. As a “lead”, the customer may find your products a solution to his problem. At the” opportunity” stage, the customer researches your product, asks questions and tests the product. In the” final” stage, the customer decides to become a customer if he is satisfied.
Sales & marketing funnel
We can visualize this customer journey using a diagram called, “sales & marketing funnel.” The funnel describes the stages of how a to-be customer finding out your product and the consequent stages he passes through before becoming your customer. Person getting through all the stages of the funnel is more likely to become your customer. Following are the stages where a person passes through before he or she feel or be satisfied with your products and hence becomes your loyal customer.
Stage #1 – Target
As a marketer, falling to fulfill the need of your prospective customers is missing the chance of a customer purchasing your products. Keep in mind that customers “needs” vary from simpler to serious problems or issues. For example, a startup company offers a promotional campaign of cookie delivery subscription to a particular company. So the startup has to bake the best class cookies to promote the monthly subscription service campaign. And the customers of the company need to pay monthly for delivering the cookies to the offices. That means, there are people that will buy your products. Now, you need to ask yourself: Who are they?
Breaking down marketing into four parts:
Marketing is defined as “understanding your target customers”, “identifying the targets and converting them into leads,” and “displaying your products to leads, and bringing them to opportunities stage.” Understanding your target customers:
To understand target, you need to know your target demographic, preferences and behaviors. And combining these information is what we say, “Customer Persona.” Let’s describe customer persona of the employees of a company that might become your customers when:
- They like your cookies
- Presence of more employees to have office snack
- Allowing enough budget for office snack
The customers that meet these criteria will become your customers. That means, they become your target by going through the first stage of the marketing funnel. And the next step is, to know their contact information (names, phone numbers and emails), to engage this target market further. Next section, we explore the next three stages of marketing: “identifying the targets and converting them into leads,” and “displaying your products to leads, and bringing them to opportunities stage.”
Stage #2 – Leads
The “need” is the source of the necessity for finding a product or service as a solution. This leads to searching for more information around the product, which further classified into:
- Online reviews
- Friends recommendations
- Coupons on newspaper
- Store visiting for product demo
- Google search for product options
Once understanding your target customers, you need to find them. For your information, the identified target automatically turns to the next stage of the funnel and becoming your leads. Finding your leads through various means which include:
- Purchasing the list of leads
- Using marketing tactics
- Purchasing the list of leads:
You can purchase the list leads of target customer names, phone numbers, and emails from sources such as Data.com that offers the service of sharing customer information for sale. However, the information that are collected does not ensure data accuracy, and purchasing the leads list is an expensive one, as well. Buying customer information is not recommended strategy for contact leads information. The recommended strategy to find the leads is marketing tactics, which include:
- Outbound Marketing
- Inbound Marketing
Outbound Marketing is also referred to as “old marketing” is about pushing your products to the targeted people.
- TV, billboard, radio advertising, etc.
- Direct mail
- Banner ads, etc.
Inbound marketing: The best marketing model
Using inbound marketing let the leads to find you with ease. However, this marketing model is ineffective if worthless content pushed to target group. Inbound marketing on the other hand, attracts the target to you via useful, interesting blog posts, free ebooks, white papers, youtube videos, etc., posted on social channels. Once the target shares their contact information, they are your leads thereof.
People interested in your products or services might type in keywords such as “top 5 best cookies” or “best cookie delivery in the U.S” into search engines such as Google. Social media ads or Google ads allow people to locate your websites. Most importantly, share your products information with your leads - the way to convince your leads to move on to the final stage of becoming your valuable customers.
Stage #3 – Opportunities
To have your leads reached this stage, the leads should pass through the criteria of readiness to convert as your customer. To reach the opportunities stage:
- Your leads should meet budgetary criteria to subscribe to a preferred product.
- Authority to initiate a purchasing decision.
- Able to subscribe the subscription within a span of 60 days.
When the leads met the criteria, the leads are now qualified to become a customer. And you need to make sure your salespeople talk to the people, who might become your customers. You need to best use your sales tactics targeting those who reached this stage because there are higher chance that they like to turn out your customers. Sales tactics involve your sales people interacting directly with people during the opportunity stage and following different sales routes in engaging with the people.
Sales tactics include:
- Automated sales
- Outside sales
- Inside sales
Automated sales is where people go direct to your company site and purchase a particular products, without the need for talking with sales team. For instance, you can purchase SaaS products online: Ecommerce sites and B2C follow automated mode of sale.
Outside sales requires direct interacting with people and meet the people in public, who are in the opportunity stage. This is time consuming as well as expensive mode of sale. Outside sale is called for when your product is:
- Complex and hence person demo is necessary
- Relationship-centric and hence necessitates several meetings
- C- level executive holds ownership of this type of marketing
Using inside sales, selling tactics takes place over the phone, dismissing necessity of travelling to the location of an opportunist. Software companies prefer this mode of sale since it is cost effective as well as more scalable. Inside sales model favors the product of lower price, most while products that cost millions of dollars sold over the phone. Startups on the other hand use mix of inside and outside sales models.