One dilemma that we hear quite often is the push/pull relationship between sales and marketing teams. The sales teams want leads to fill the top of their sales funnel, which should come from the marketing teams, but the marketing team wants sales data and details on what works from the sales team. The two teams can and should exist in harmony; you just have to have a strategy to do so.
A sales funnel is typically a six-step upside-down triangle (hence the funnel) that brings prospects or repeat customers in. It works for companies and organizations of all types, whether you’re selling or seeking donations. It tends to start with “awareness,” which is where the prospect learns about the company or where former customers are reacquainted. From there, they become interested in the company or what the company does or is offering/selling. Next, the customer evaluates if what’s being offered or the organization’s mission matches their needs and then moves to the decision phase. Sometimes the decision phase includes negotiation, which is followed by payment which “closes” the sale, and then comes the pivotal last piece – keeping them interested so they don’t need to re-enter the funnel from the start.
Getting would-be buyers into the top of the funnel requires a marketing strategy to get the company/organization/product out in front of them in some way. Direct mail is typically one of the best ways to do this, especially when combined with web or social media marketing. The more times a prospect sees you, the better. It generally takes up to eight hints or reminders to get a consumer to take any action, so diversifying your media and your messaging is key. There has to be a call to action that brings them to you (virtually or in person), and then from there, sales has to take over. But it’s not all sales at that point. What does the sales team need to succeed? Flyers or posters? Good scripting? A nice visual display? Whatever it is, they need to communicate their needs to be able to gain that additional interest and keep prospects moving down the funnel.
Marketing and sales strategies go hand in hand and sometimes require a bit of a mediator to find what both parties need and hope to accomplish. If you’ve never written a sales and marketing plan, start with the basics:
- WHO are you targeting? What is the profile of your typical customer/user/donor?
- WHAT are you offering, or what do you hope they will do when they turn money over to you? What is a successful outcome?
- WHERE will you market? (Hint – multiple places is almost always a good idea)
- WHEN are you going to market to them? Time this so that you’re always ahead. We know that you’re going to say that August is your busiest time, so you’re definitely not marketing in July and August, but good marketing never stops, and therefore, your funnel never dries up
- WHY should they care? Why should their money be directed at you? This isn’t meant to make you defensive, but it’s the question everyone will be asking themselves, and your competitors will surely be making sure they answer well
- HOW do they get to you? Start online and come to visit you in person? Strictly online? Strictly in person? Through the mail? Make sure the pathway is clear and not too tricky. No one wants to jump through hoops unless it’s for a million dollars 😉
From there, set some target metrics. What does success look like for you? Be honest, use data to back it up if possible, and be intentional that your metrics align with your plan. For example, you can’t have a goal of having 1,000 people in your funnel if you’re only marketing to 500 once.
Success starts with an ‘s’, and that ‘s’ is for strategy. Strategy is how you bridge the gap between sales and marketing teams and keep a healthy, full, and, hopefully, lucrative sales funnel going.