I was having a conversation with a prospect a few weeks ago. After we spoke for a few minutes and I described how we might help his organization he said the following to me. “Randy if you get me a proposal that outlines everything we talked about for the fees you described, I’ll sign it. Let’s get going.”
This is the power of digital marketing. This CEO was a completely organic prospect. I had never met him before and didn’t know him. He was not a referral. Instead, he saw some of our content online, came to our website, registered for an Action Guide, spent several hours on our website thinking about our ideas and then reached out for a conversation.
Is this the sort of behavior you’d like to shape? Are you struggling to realize these types of results? If you build the right kind of digital marketing strategy, you too can realize velocity in your sales funnel. Let me show you how to do this.
Just because someone registers for one of your content assets, that does not mean they are ready to become your client or even want to talk to your company.
How This Happened
Before I go too far, I want to explain why this prospect moved so quickly through our sales funnel. For the sake of simplicity, let’s call the prospect Alan, even though that’s not his real name. But first, I want to emphasize this point. Alan was completely organic. When I say organic, the term has a specific meaning for me. An organic prospect is someone who:
- Has never done business with us.
- Was not in our database, was not a referral from an existing client or partner and was not in contact with us before they started their inbound journey.
- Knew very little about us before they started their inbound journey and we certainly knew nothing about them.
- Was not predisposed to want to work with us and had no reason to say yes to us before they started their inbound journey.
This is how I think of organic prospects. They are truly new business.
Alan popped up on our radar screen late last year after he registered for one of our Action Guides. I saw his registration through our marketing automation platform and visited his LinkedIn profile to see whether or not he fit our ideal client profile.
I looked at both Alan’s personal profile and his company’s profile. The demographics were a good match to who we serve. But I really didn’t know about the psychographics, why Alan had registered for our Action Guide. I didn’t know what goals he was trying to accomplish. Just to be clear, I did not reach out to him for a conversation. We connected on LinkedIn and I left him alone.
Over about a 5-week period, I watched Alan’s lead score grow. He clicked on several emails, watched quite a number of videos, downloaded an e-book and visited several dozen webpages. His time-on-site and time-on-page grew substantially. Still, I left him alone.
So when Alan finally reached out for a sales conversation, I was not surprised. I had been anticipating it. I expected it to happen. While I still didn’t know exactly what he wanted to talk about or why he was interested in my company, his digital activity gave me many clues. The content he consumed suggested to me quite clearly what he was thinking about.
By the time we spoke, Alan had specific questions for me about how we might help his organization. He had already bought into our expertise and believed we were the right firm to help his company. As soon as I explained to him how we might address his issues, he was ready to go and wanted a proposal.
Why This Happened
I believe there are four major reasons that Alan moved quickly through our sales funnel.
- We produced content that spoke to his goals.
- We created content that anticipated his journey.
- We allowed him to take his journey on his timeline.
- The time was right for him.
If you want to realize success with digital marketing, I urge you to carefully consider what I am saying here. This is the process that is stimulating our growth and our client’s growth as well. Let’s look at each of these four ideas.
We Produced Content That Spoke To His Goals
People often ask me: “Randy why is it that your content strategy seems to work but ours doesn’t?” When I look at their content, I see a lot of similarities. They often have a blog site, some webinars, maybe a few videos and even white papers and e-books. But the problem is that they don’t get a lot of registrations or even that the registrations that they receive don’t convert to meaningful sales conversations.
After I look at their content, I see the root cause. More often than not, their content speaks to their goals, not their ideal clients’ goals. The seeds of failure were actually sown many months before the content was produced and promoted.
This is why you have to engage in ideation. A huge mistake that most companies are making today is hiring writers, spending little time talking to them and then letting the writers go out and produce content. This is a recipe for failure.
Writers know how to write. Usually they are very good with words and style. But most writers are not subject matter experts and do not know how to embed insights into the content they create. The insights have to be drawn from subject matter experts and this takes time and energy. But it’s worth it.
When the right prospective clients come to our website, register for content and spend time thinking about it, I know there is only one question that remains. Is the time right for them? The reason I know this is because our content has been structured in such a way to tell our organic ideal prospects exactly how to accomplish the goals that matter most to them.
We spent months analyzing our ideal clients to create an editorial calendar that pulls them along an inbound journey. We asked ourselves about the demographics: title, company size, industry, years of experience, decision-rights and other questions. But we also built a profile of psychographics.
Psychographics are the reasons that someone is willing to go on their inbound journey. I believe there are 3 critical psychographics:
- Goals: which are the reasons that someone has a job, those things which absolutely must be achieved. Goals will always get funded.
- Opportunities: those things that excite their imagination and which get funded if there is time and budget.
- Challenges: which are obstacles that prevent people from achieving the goals. These will only get funded if they become acute.
If you want to stimulate velocity in your sales funnel, you have to create content that speaks to the goals, opportunities and challenges of your ideal clients.
We Created Content That Anticipated His Journey
The other reason Alan moved so quickly through our sales funnel is because we anticipated his inbound journey. We created shallow-swim and deep-dive content and allowed him to binge on it to his heart’s content, all without interrupting him or asking for anything in return.
When I analyzed Alan’s digital footprint, I saw the specific steps he had taken on his journey and when he had taken them. I could see every touch point on that journey and watched it go from lukewarm to red-hot.
Why did this happen? A big part of the reason is that we gave Alan content that worked within his time constraints and his interests. Let me explain what I mean.
Most busy people these days don’t have time to explore an idea in depth in the middle of their work day. We all have meetings and deadlines that have to be met. But when something catches our eye, we might bookmark the page, save the email or even just leave a window open on our desktop and come back to it later.
Time is a key indicator of someone’s interest. If they give you a lot of time, they have a lot of interest. But you have to let people do this on their schedule. This is why it’s so important to create shallow-swim content that pulls people toward deep-dive content. Both types of content assets can address the same goal, opportunity or challenge. The shallow-swim leads to the deep-dive content.
Shallow-swim content includes blog-posts, short videos, infographics, slide-shares and any other form of content that can be consumed in just a few minutes. Deep-dive content includes e-books, webinars, Action Guides, white papers and the like. These assets usually require a much greater time investment.
When I analyzed Alan’s digital footprint, I saw this behavior in a very empirical way. He viewed a blog-post on LinkedIn, clicked through and registered for an e-book and then came back a few days later and registered for our video-based Action Guides. All of the content, the blog-post, the e-book and the Action Guide, were all about the same specific goal.
If you want to stimulate velocity in your sales funnel, you have to create content that allows people to move seamlessly from shallow-swim to deep-dive.
We Allowed Him To Take His Journey On His Timeline
One of the biggest mistakes I see people making today is trying to convert prospects before they are ready. Just because someone registers for one of your content assets, that does not mean they are ready to become your client or even want to talk to your company. They are curious and looking for more information and ideas. They also want to know whether or not you will treat them the right way.
You’ll notice that I keep referring to the inbound journey. Well here is what we’ve discovered after analyzing the digital footprint of literally thousands of users in several different marketing automation systems. People go on a journey that is comprised of four stages:
- Anonymous – where they surf your website and sample your content without identifying themselves.
- Acknowledged – where they register for a content asset and submit their personal information.
- Engaged – where they spend time thinking about your ideas and how you can help them.
- Leaning-in – where they request to enter dialogue with your sales team to discuss a specific need or opportunity.
Alan took that journey completely on his own. We gave him the room he needed to explore and make up his own mind about the value of the counsel he encountered in our content. The ideas were exciting to him, and he moved ahead on his own pace.
This meant that I did not have to pull him through the sales funnel. I did not have to request meeting after meeting and then have the agreed-upon meeting get cancelled and re-scheduled. The prospect actually pulled me through the funnel and waited with great anticipation for our scope of services agreement.
If you want to stimulate velocity in your sales funnel, you have to give people the time they need to complete their inbound journey.
The Time Was Right For Him
One of the other major reasons Alan moved through our sales funnel so quickly is because he was ready. There were a number of circumstances at his firm that finally fell in line and caused him to go looking for a solution. Six months earlier, he would not have been ready. We were patient and waited and when the time was right, he reached out.
I cannot overestimate the importance of readiness. And in case you were wondering what a sales-ready prospect looks like, let me share these five criteria. If you want to engage in dialogue with an ever increasing number of ideal prospects who are great fit for your company, look for these characteristics:
- Need: they have a specific need for which your products and services are a great fit.
- Budget: they have ample budget to afford your fees and may have already reserved a line-item on their budget for those services.
- Timeline: they have a specific timeline in which they must act or there will be consequences for them.
- Reason: they have a specific reason to act, usually a presenting issue.
- Dialogue: they are ready to engage in serious dialogue that quickly moves toward an agreement.
The best prospects we’ve worked with over the last several years display these characteristics to the letter. We don’t have to create urgency or drag them through a sales process. They are ready to go on the journey and are self-motivated.
If you want to stimulate velocity in your sales funnel, you have to consistently connect with people who fit your ideal client profile, nurture them and wait until the time is right time to enter dialogue.
How To Go Even Deeper
While I’ve given you several good ideas in this post, I do have a deeper-dive asset for you. I’ve developed an E-Book called Ten Things Service Websites Must Do To Drive Revenue. It goes into much greater detail on many of the concepts I’ve outlined in this blog-post. If you want to create velocity in your sales funnel, I know this E-Book will really help you.