No one has to tell you, of all people, that customers go through stages as they move through the buying process. As a small-business owner, you've been selling your product or service long before your sales and marketing team started casting decisions in terms of “the marketing funnel.” The marketing funnel? If this term is new to your vernacular, don't worry, you're not far behind the curve – or the tactics to help you navigate it.
The definitions of MQL and SQL (SAL) should be spelled out, and agreed upon, in a service level agreement (SLA). The SLA outlines the terms of how sales and marketing will work together. The SLA should define what MQL and SQL look like, as well as state the time frame and process each team must follow. For example, an MQL has reached a score of 75 through a combination of content engagement and web engagement and fits the ideal customer profile. It must be accepted by sales or sent back to marketing within 24 hours of being assigned. The SLA should be drafted together by both marketing and sales leadership and signed off on by both parties.
Content also includes developing your final offer, that is to say your course. Take some time to write down exactly what your offer is. What is the price for your course? What are the benefits and outcomes for students? What problem does it solve? Why should they buy a course from you? You will need this in the future when you create your email campaign. More on that later.
First, a common language needs to be set up to ensure marketing knows when a lead should be moved from marketing’s control, and placed in the sales funnel. There are two terms, "marketing-qualified lead" (MQL) and "sales-qualified lead" (SQL) or “sales-accepted-lead,” which all sales funnels must embrace to keep both teams aligned. When marketing has a lead ready to talk to sales, the lead should be marked as an MQL, meaning marketing has gotten it to the point where they believe sales should take over. If sales agree the lead is sales-ready, they accept the lead and move it from MQL to SQL (or SAL), and the handoff is complete. If not, the lead goes back to marketing.
Customers move on to Stage 5 when the sale is complete. Molly should brainstorm the kinds of information these customers will need, as well as how she’ll provide it as part of a cohesive onboarding process. Though she doesn’t need to worry about customers finding her at this stage or moving on to the next one, it’s still important to meet their needs so that they walk away feeling good about their purchase decisions!
Steve Jobs was a pioneer of the funnel business model in the early days of the internet. His vision was that almost any person or company with an interest in information, interaction, or media was a potential participant in the Apple funnel. The top of the Apple funnel was very broad, with devices from desktop computers to iPods. Apple attracted people into the funnel with products that were so intuitive and elegant that they became status symbols. And inside the funnel, the compatible and interconnected nature of the devices, along with a sizable content library, created multiple opportunities for further transactions.
Exits from stage. The exits from stage metric is very similar to your time in stage metric, but it allows you to see how many potential customers you are completely losing in a particular stage. For example, if your potential clients spend a year on your email list before they buy (but most of them do eventually buy), that’s a time in stage problem. If people spend 5 days on your email list before they buy, but 98% of them unsubscribe within 5 days, that’s an exits from stage problem.
The final step in the process is to figure out which metrics you’ll track to determine how well your funnel is functioning. It’s crucial to work with the SQL and MQL data here to track patterns between who closes and how they interact with your site, content, channels, ads, etc. Once you have more information, you can continuously optimize your funnel
One is intellectual capital. Hospitals will need people who speak the language of the total market served, who are steeped in contemporary means of personal and commercial interaction, and who have a demonstrated ability to draw traffic and create a first-class consumer experience. These individuals need to be given sufficient position and authority to truly influence how a hospital interacts with all the people it touches.
In a recent conversation I had with Perry Belcher, co-founder of Native Commerce Media, he told me that you also need to train your prospects to click on links. For example, you could have them click on a link of what interests them or link them to a blog post or eventually to a product or service that you're selling, but you need to train them to build a habit of clicking on those links from the very beginning.
As people progress through your funnel, their intent to buy steadily increases. You always lose people with each new commitment you ask for (we refer to these actions “conversions”), but the more people you can get to convert at each step in your funnel, the more sales you will ultimately produce. In marketing, we call this process “widening the funnel.”
But once you acquire enough initial customers and you ensure their success and happiness, they become a force for your flywheel. This is because either they buy from you again or they bring in new customers by promoting you to their network. This is the key to keeping your flywheel spinning without continuing to invest all your resources in acquiring new customers.
For different types of businesses, buyer needs at the problem/need recognition stage – top of the funnel (TOFU) – are different. If you’re running a consulting business, for example, then your clients already realize that they’re having certain problems around your service area – like a high cost per lead (if you’re in marketing) or disorganized spending (if you’re in accounting).
For example, let’s say your business has a blog and social media accounts it uses to get on a potential customer’s radar. From there, you encourage people to download an eBook in exchange for their email and drop them into an email drip that promotes an upcoming webinar. At the webinar, you sell people on your product or service, which convinces them to submit a lead form, work with your sales team and ultimately make a purchase.
Or, are you a leader, an adventurer or an evangelist? How you position yourself is entirely up to you, but your message must be consistent throughout your entire "pitch" and it needs to be steeped in the truth. Your backstory, and just how you convey that through parables, character flaws and polarity, has much to do with just how well you can "hook" in your prospects to create a mass movement.