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Sharpening the Axe on Your Sales Funnel

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Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. ~ Abraham Lincoln

You are likely not getting the results you could have for selling. You may have started chopping, working hard and following the crowd hoping that putting up a social media presence and doing what everyone else is doing would open the magic door of sales.

Sharpening the axe can become less appealing because you don’t feel the sweat and toil from trying hard at something. That illusion can be seductive.

When it comes to building a continuous sales funnel that produces visitors, leads and deals, you can certainly guess at what may work. But the wasted money and time can be painful over months and years with a dull axe, an unsharp strategy.

Sharpening the axe requires research, analysis and strategic thinking about how you attract, win and keep your customers in a repeatable fashion. You have to look at the data, make meaning of the traffic and sources that drive your sales funnel, and implement the strategy that takes advantage of how your market is set up.

It’s why large brands spend so much time assimilating the vast amounts of data and sales conversion information that will help them build connections with their prospective customers. User behaviors, demographics, platform activity and density, as well as past customer behavior, can feed into profiling, targeting and strategies that help you connect in a logical and rational way with your buyers.

However, you have to value strategic thinking first. It means thinking more about what will work and ensuring you have the data to support your suppositions instead of simply opening a store or site and doing what you see those around you busy working at. You may have a lot of activity, however, to what end? Are you getting the results you desire?

There are millions of sites, stores and sales venues that are out there. Simply hanging your shingle out there is a losing strategy if you are not found or if you are largely ignored in the midst of the noise.

Can you afford to waste months guessing, especially when the data is out there to help you sharpen your axe?

How about doing the hard work of hard thinking. Do the analysis first. Study the data. Get insights into what is happening and where your highest payoffs will be and design the sales funnel in a way that makes selling easier with less cost and effort.

How is your sales funnel doing?

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Keeping the Sales Opportunity Funnel Continuous

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Sales never ends. Your business exists to service customers that find value in what you offer. The challenge of keeping your sales opportunity funnel continuous for deal making has to be a primary strategy that you address.

Ultimately, there are a limited set of strategies to work with new customers. It’s best to analyze your market and how buyers engage similar offerings with competitors in benchmarks.

Furthermore, you can take a look at your existing customers you have won and examine how they became customers. Then invest your budget, resources and attention towards those places that have worked. Refine the approach to attracting new prospects and keep conversion metrics front and center on a monthly basis.

For those prospects that do express interest, you have the task of nurturing, following up and educating them about the benefits of your offering. A system that will touch a person multiple times, perhaps even a dozen times over many months is required. You may start this with people on your team that are service-oriented.

The metrics for sales conversion here have to be gathered and analyzed for continuous improvement as well. Your messaging and efficiency that comes from top performers on your team can be examined for what the key influencing points are and that can be magnified for sales efficiency.

The sales opportunity funnel often has a lot of moving pieces and data builds up over time. To keep the sales conversion working over time and the funnel full, you have to see what truly works and where to emphasize more of your efforts and resources.

Start by establishing a baseline of metrics that you can examine and track over time. From there, watch what is working and what is lagging. Your industry benchmarks will shed light on what is a reasonable goal.

Keeping your sales funnel continuous requires tweaking and upgrading where the data leads you. It’s an exercise in continuous and vigilant management and analysis practices.

How are you tracking your sales conversion metrics for efficiency?

Know Your Sales Opportunity Funnel Data

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There is typically an enormous amount of data that is part of your sales process. From when anonymous followers view your content to their eventual purchase of your product or service, there is a trail of behaviors online.

The buyer journey tends to be different for various profiles, but overall there is a sales opportunity funnel that develops to tell a story of how a stranger becomes a friend and a friend becomes a customer.

Assume that you can do better. With greater insights you can develop strategies that augment your current approach to selling. The systems, tools and conversion points can be identified and you can apply attention and resources to drive sales.

We like to start with a simple Sales Conversion Roadmap. It’s a simple way to gather all the information flowing into your business from social platforms, your landing sites and pages, emails and various other data sets and building a picture of what is going on in your selling.

Our team collaborates with you to draw out the information on your various sales approaches and works on building the insights into your data sets. From there, we share where the opportunities are to optimize and increase your conversions.

The strategies that come out of the data analysis constitute a roadmap that you can use to implement enhancements to your sales funnel for increased traffic and conversions.

Business today is not lacking in information. What is hard to gain is the meaning and insights about how your customers behave and what increases your sales.

A simple 1 week engagement with our team at a really low cost can give you answers that you may not be thinking about to increase your sales.

How is your sales opportunity funnel performing today?

Qualifying Sales Opportunity Funnel Leads

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Trying to talk to the whole world? How about narrowing your sales funnel?

There’s always that dilemma when designing and working your sales funnel. Your pipeline can be artificially fat if you let everyone in without some criteria on who is worth talking to for a sales conversation.

On the other hand if you are too narrow in your qualification criteria, you can miss opportunities that a good salesperson could convert.

Qualification is something that can help throttle the sales funnel so you are efficient and giving your team the highest probability chances to engage with and convert sales prospects.

When designing how to set up your sales opportunity funnel, consider allowing your leads to self-qualify. You can use simple criteria such as the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timing) method in your questions:

  • What is your budget?
  • Are you or someone else responsible for making a decision on this product?
  • What is your need and how do you see our solution fitting?
  • Are you planning on buying now? If not, then how long before you decide?

Based on the answers you get either in online forms, sales engagement chats or initial discussions, develop a handoff with your sales opportunities to the right closing conversation team member.

They would then be responsible for converting the sale or negotiating and following up with the qualified lead until a “Yes” or a “No” is the outcome.

Not everyone is ready or wanting to buy and your design of the qualification process can keep your sales resources allocated to talking to the right people at the right time. You don’t want to waste cycles talking to unqualified people in your funnel. Allow your nurturing and messaging to do the work of creating interest and extracting their qualification based on their need and timing.

If you look at how efficiently your sales team is working, are you using qualification to set them up with the most optimal sales conversations? Want a better sales strategy?

Setting Up the Sales Opportunity Funnel

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If you think of selling and how your previous customers bought, you will likely find that the highest conversion happens after a sales opportunity at the bottom of the funnel. You had a conversation of some sort before they decided to accept your proposal or product order.

Before the high conversion sales opportunity comes, there are a lot of low conversion events that have to take place within your sales funnel such as:

  • Nurturing and follow-up. Keeping relevant information, interest and conversations going consistently on a weekly basis.
  • Attraction and attention. Getting through the noise and allow people to find you online or notice you on social channels.
  • Positioning and branding. Ensuring anyone that lands on your site or pages understands who you are, what you do and why you matter
  • Sales metrics and dashboards. Keeping the relevant digital information front and center so you can act and react to trends and information on a macro scale for engagement.
  • Initial engagement. Reacting with speed to interest on your store front, site or landing pages and persuading people towards a next step.

The setup of a sales funnel has to be done with the customer journey carefully crafted. Then from the initial assumptions, you have to watch carefully and test how the customer travels through the funnel.

At each conversion point, you can do A/B testing to see what makes sense to improve sales conversions.

The goal is to set up the high conversion sales opportunities at the bottom of the funnel. If you can get the opportunity, then the sale becomes a formality. It’s a bit of art and engineering combined with feedback from reality.

Do you have a sales opportunity funnel built? Or are you heavily focused on one part of the sales funnel?

Consider partnering with us to help you build more sales opportunities for ROI.

Sales Targeting

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We know that everyone is not your customer. A lot of time, money and energy can be wasted in the wrong places and with the wrong people if your sales approach lacks strong sales targeting.

Anyone can mass email, blast aimlessly or waste people’s attention and time. It takes more strategic thinking and effort to dial in how to target your prospective customers and start the conversations with them based on who they are and how they like to engage.

It’s why we work on the sales conversion strategy with thorough effort and attention to the data that your buyers generate from their responses or lack thereof. Analysis of the data and designing the strategy take a lot of work and it is the preparation which allows your investment in your selling pay off. It is aiming in the right direction with the right approach.

We start with sales targeting and then test out our assumptions by executing sales as a partner to drive sales conversations. As we are working the sales process, we are learning, assimilating and refining the approach based on the data that comes back from your audience engagement.

Selling has a lot of moving pieces but there is usually a sales process which emerges and matches how people like to buy. That creates the funnel we are looking for to set up sales conversations with your business development people that can manage the conversation and drive sales conversion deals.

You can just try harder and work. But if you assume that you are likely not dialed in efficiently and that there is a way to approach your customers with much higher probabilities for having relevant sales conversations, then take a step back. Analyze what is happening first. Get some conclusions. Test your assumptions. Build something that will flow continuously for your sales pipeline.

Would you want to optimize your sales targeting?

Converting the Middle of the Funnel

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How are you optimizing the middle of your sales funnel?

The middle of the funnel is where sales lead nurturing and follow-up happen. After you get interest from initial contacts from your inbound or outbound selling, there is a phase of trust-building which requires consistency and strategic touches.

The best kind of salespeople to work this sales process are service-oriented people that want to provide a high level of personal service and care.

While you may have gotten attention in the beginning, you now have the job of organizing the pipeline of interested sales opportunities and nurture them with content, information and relationship building.

The failure point in the middle of the sales funnel comes down to people. You want timeliness and relevant information consistently. Ultimately, you are asking people to perform like machines when it comes to sales conversion in the middle of the funnel.

Some of the challenge to gain consistency is to use marketing automation which triggers messaging based on sales prospect behaviors such as a page visit, a clicked link or even no response after a period of time.

The success that sales organizations have had vary based on the management of systems, process and content. It’s a highly involved process that requires full engagement and analysis of sales conversion milestones.

Did buyers move to expected next steps?

Is the ordering, format and presentation of content optimized?

Do salespeople work productively to follow-up 5-12 times?

Are all the buyer profiles captured and accounted for in customer journeys?

Your middle of the funnel approach is not a one and done. It is an ongoing strategic and analytical approach. You let the data accumulated from marketing automation systems and your inside sales team’s follow-up tell you how to adjust your approach.

Ultimately, the goal is to set up a bottom of the funnel event such as a presentation, closing conversation or executive handoff.

Do you have the right systems and talent to make your middle of the funnel process work?

Sales Engagement on Your Website

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Someone sees an idea from a friend on Twitter about your market or industry. They click.

Perhaps, they search with keywords specific to your product or service offering. Then they see one of the pages from your website pop up.

You may have your Google Analytics set up or other underlying tools to help you understand your traffic. But how many of those visitors did not find what they were looking for? If you have a high bounce rate where people come and leave, then all that work on your website did not invite an exploratory or inviting buyer flow.

There’s typically a gap. The website is a front door for new visitors from search and social media sites to understand who you are and what you do. But that part of the process goes largely unassisted. You are depending on the website visitor to navigate your site and find things for themselves. And like everyone else, they look at hundreds of sites in a given week.

Sure, you can lay out the site according to industry practices with the About page and Contact form. But that step to reach out may require more trust and if you are not getting contacted then your sales conversion process is broken. You are not getting strangers to take the initiative to get into a conversation.

Isn’t the goal of your website to get into a selling conversation? You get visitors that leave. That’s not effective. They may never come back.

What if you could start the conversation earlier while they are visiting and provide an assisted experience? What if you could move website visitors from inattention to full engagement with your offering and educate your site visitors?

You would fill the gap with information and insights. But you do need to have a system and strategy that makes sense for driving continuous sales conversions.

Want to learn how to fill that gap between visitors to sales conversations so you get a weekly pipeline of sales opportunities? Let’s talk. Fill out the form below:

Competing Against the World

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Putting a message out into the world is extremely simple and convenient. You can do this from anywhere now with your iPhone at the speed of thought. The ability to connect and post your message is meaningless in a sea of messages unless you can break through the noise.

The barrier to entry into communications whether it be a radio show, your own newspaper, a new online merchandise item or a simple text message is extremely low. The real barrier is around mattering. Getting attention with the right people so they hear you and recognize you are relevant is what people are competing for every day.

Think about why you pay attention to some messages and not the many others:

  • You know a person well.
  • You respect the reputation of a company.
  • You have seen a name pop up frequently and regularly.
  • A friend told you to pay attention
  • You are enticed by an offer
  • Your are passionate about a hobby or industry

These are personal and create resonance.

For your message to connect with people you have to study behaviors, buying signals and data that tells you how to compete with the world. The information comes from past clients, visitors, and sales engagement information. The deciphering into what works from how to say things and when to present your main offerings can be predictable. But you have to approach the competition with your eye set on the goal of deciphering the noise to find the signal.

What is the sales approach that maximizes your sales conversion and opportunities? What is the timing and sequence for selling? Who are the people that can recognize you in the sea of their own information realities?

What’s your strategy for competing against the world? Are you simply going to try harder?

Converting Ready Sales Leads

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In today’s self-service, hyper-connected world, your prospective customers spend a lot of time understanding who you are and comparing you to your competition. They can read what you post on your website and Google various related topics as well as your name to understand whether you are within their realm of need.

Many times, the analytics will show that people have visited your site and social profiles several times before actually reaching out. A lot of activity is happening apart from you continuously. The buyer has the power of information in their hands.

By the time your prospective customer reaches out, they are already educated about their problem.

The customer journey starts with search and research. Your content and reputation has to be intact. This is why it’s important to study your analytics and see where your customers are visiting to gather insights about who you are and what you are offering.

At some point, they are ready to talk to someone. They want answers or are ready to explore a next step with you. That handoff has to be carefully handled and expediently managed.

The sales conversion step when it comes to managing ready sales leads is a potential failure point. And the best way to remedy this is to ensure your human process has inside salespeople that are ready for a conversation. In all likeliness, your prospect has filled out several web forms of you and your competitors. Responsiveness is critical to your success in engaging and moving the prospect further down the funnel.

One of your key metrics could be response timing. A 1 hour response time may feel rigorous, but try installing this for a 30 day period. See how your conversions turn out. From there, as you see success and embed the culture into your team, consider automating the process for efficiency.

Your alignment around speed and continuity for the buyer’s progress can be the difference between a lot of unknown lost sales and a strategic competitive advantage.