Close the Funnel – Open the Tunnel to Winning More Sales!
Most sales professionals have been exposed to the funnel concept. A business through its marketing action plan has a marketing funnel in which all the leads are fall into. From this funnel, the goal is to get the leads into the sales funnel (earned sales) and that leads to the financial funnel (paid invoices). The funnel concept is a very good visual and has been quite successful in achieving the goal to increase sales. However, I believe a new visual is needed to support today’s marketplace because the premise of the funnel (given enough leads into your funnel gravity will take over) has a tendency to ignore what is happening in today’s marketplace more than ever before.
For many years, delivering good products and services was enough to generate fair to strong customer loyalty even when buyers or purchasing agents changed. The belief was If it was good enough for so and so, it is good enough for me. Finding a new supplier is way too time consuming and I have other responsibilities.
Enter the Internet funnel hacks russell. Now with the click of the mouse, your loyal customer or potential customer can find another vendor to meet her or his needs. Sales professionals now must switch from the old tradition of selling just my products or services to sharing value intense information. Through this sharing, the sales professional is now engaged in relationship selling.
Relationship selling has many definitions depending upon the sales guru. Yet, I believe the essence of relationship selling is to become the trusted advisor to your clients. In relationship selling, you become The go to person who understands the marketplace and can make positive recommendations for your customers and even potential qualified customers (prospects).
To become that trusted advisor means that you must demonstrate value through your expertise, your knowledge. In other words, your goal is not about making or closing the sale as it is about educating your customer with value that he or she cannot find anywhere else.
Envision, if you would for a moment, a long dark tunnel. You and your qualified potential customer (qualified prospect) are at the opening of this tunnel. The two of you start walking side by side into this dark and even somewhat scary tunnel. Inside, you learn what is frightening your potential customer and provide reassurance that you not only understand, but can help him or her through those terrifying and most challenging issues. As you continue walking, you begin to leave the role of salesperson and embrace the role of trusted advisor. During this process, the two of you begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This light is generated by your products and services along with the other information that you have provided in your role as trusted advisor.
There are several differences between the funnel and the tunnel. One difference is of time. Of course because you are actively engaged with your potential qualified customers, you will be investing more time. This investment of time demands that you have done your due diligence in separating the suspects from the qualified prospects or qualified potential customers so that your time investment is recovered in the form of an earned sale.
Another difference between the funnel and the tunnel is the issue of giving something away for free. During this process of education, you may have to give away something of value to receive something of greater value. Depending upon your industry, your target market, what you give away will vary. For example, one of my sales coaching clients is in the food manufacturing industry. She consistently gives away a significant sample of her product that being a soup base stock to qualified potential customers. This give-a-way along with the supporting education from her sales team helps to deliver a significant sales conversion success rate.
A third difference is that in the tunnel you may begin the journey with just one individual. However, because he or she may not be the ultimate decision-maker, but a significant player within the decision making process, you may find yourself walking with another individual. Only you know from your initial meeting or contact if you should begin this journey through the tunnel with someone who is not the ultimate decision-maker.
Relationship selling using an education based marketing approach appears to be a better way to win more sales provided you switch from a funnel marketing strategy to a tunnel one. By changing your paradigm, you may find yourself not only richer in dollars, but even richer in authentic relationships.