We have some things in the pipeline, but not $20,000 in the pipeline to meet our goals. Not knowing where the sales goals are going to come from just gnaws at me.
Thoughts of the Day: In every small business, it’s marketing’s job to push up the volume in the sales pipeline. Think of the pipeline in stages from identifying suspects to reeling them into a discussion with your company. Build tools for each stage of the pipeline.
Most small businesses don’t really have a marketing department. It’s usually part of someone’s job, if marketing exists at all, and usually there are few if any accountabilities tied to how well that job does or doesn’t get done. Formalizing the role and responsibilities around marketing can help to increase the company’s long-term success in sales.
Think about who should have responsibility for marketing, even if it’s part time. Decide what skills need to be added, whether through additional hires, more education or using vendors to supplement the team.
Set up standard pipeline stages, starting with identifying suspects — all people in the world who have characteristics similar to your best customers. Next stage would be all people in the world who have looked for a similar product or service within the year. Then refine that group down to all people in the world who know about your company. And finally, all people in the world who have expressed interest in knowing more about your company’s products or services. At that point the leads get turned over to sales to reel them into a discussion with your company.
Knowing the quantities of each stage and what typical percentage converts from one stage of the funnel to the next helps you evaluate where to focus your marketing efforts. Compare the number of leads currently being turned over to sales to the number of leads your salespeople need in order to achieve their sales goals. Look for big gaps between stages and think about ways to push more suspects from one stage of the funnel into the next.
Tools for each part of the pipeline should help you to pull in visitors and educate them. Create a reason for them to engage. Test the tools and repeat usage of the ones that work. Revise the ones that don’t seem so productive until they deliver results. Measure results in terms of awareness of your company, often referred to as eyeballs, and engagement with your company in the form of inquiries, acceptance of offers and taking calls from your sales people.
Grab attention and then hang onto it with each suspect your company crosses paths with. Build marketing pieces and test which ones grab your suspects’ attention. Try snail mail — it works better today, since fewer and fewer marketing companies spend money, time and effort pumping out printed content. Try promotions to current customers, rewarding them for referring new contacts to you. Try landing pages that make people aware of some aspect of your company. Try advertising to bring in interest — both in print and over the internet. Try blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics — all informational and educational tools designed to grab someone’s interest and lead them to you. Make sure that your website is set up to capture interest and lead a suspect to engage by leaving some kind of a footprint. Think in terms of offers to provide demos, white papers, additional product or service information.
The best footprint is always an inquiry with a name, phone number and email address. But you can also make it work if you get people to tell you what groups they belong to and where else they hang out so you can direct your salespeople to places where they’re more likely to find active prospects.
Set up measures that help identify which parts of the marketing funnel are getting traction and which need work. Require a weekly update on actions being taken in marketing. Meet regularly to discuss progress and brainstorm additional actions to take.
Looking for a good book? Try “The Conversion Code: Capture Internet Leads, Create Quality Appointments, Close More Sales” by Chris Smith.
Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., StrategyLeaders.com, a business-consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Have a question for AskAndi? Wondering how Strategy Leaders can help your business thrive? Call or email for a free consultation and diagnostics: 877-238-3535.