Let’s talk about sales and marketing as vehicles to guide customers through buyer journeys.
What has changed?
Nothing actually. We’re just better equipped today to use sales and marketing to communicate with and eventually help our customers of today and tomorrow to solve their problems. Then almost as a byproduct, to create sustainable growth for our businesses.
So let’s go through these two sides of the same coin. Providing better customer experiences and creating sustainable growth in scale.
From sales funnel…
I’m sorry if you tried to forget, since here it comes again. Prepare yourself.
The way we were taught to help our ideal customers first learn about our brands and eventually give us money in exchange for value was through the good old sales funnel.
First, the potential customer reached the awareness stage of our linear and, for some random reason, a vacuumed brand journey. On our sales pipeline, this was called the lead generation phase, where this magical isolated journey began.
Then we assumed our prospects hated their privacy and inboxes by asking them to give us their email to get some content or access to a webinar combined with a spirited call from our sales team. Here they entered the interest stage of the sales funnel and became something really cool, MQLs in our sales pipelines.
Optimistically we envision turning 10% of these MQLs into prospects that could actually give us their money, or at least their time, by meeting with our sales rep and, perhaps most importantly, qualify as SQLs in our pipelines. We would then aggressively email and call them until they stopped communicating.
Sound familiar? These funnels that kindly provided content or webinars in exchange for emails, and pipelines where our clients happily marched through the isolated and linear path from anonymous lead to MQL to SQL to a signed contract, were, I assume, all created in good faith.
I’m sure they sounded great in boardrooms and looked even better on whiteboards. They provided C-suite, sales teams, and even marketing a simple view for generating new business in the digital world.
No one just remembered to send the customers the memo. And honestly, even if someone would’ve sent that memo, I don’t think anyone would’ve obliged to it.
That’s not how we humans or our worlds work. I don’t wait to see your ad about my specific problem to click my way to your website to download your ebook to wait for your sales rep to call.
Even worse is if you expect me to find your ad only on the channel of your choice, then get my interest sparked through the content format of your choice, and expect me to share my email with you just to hear your take on solving my problem.
Our lives are in constant chaos, we get a million messages every day, and our needs and situations are forever changing. Not to mention we’re all wildly different and unique in our habits and behavioral quirks.
There’s just absolutely no way our buying process would linearly somehow follow this match made in heaven sales funnel and pipeline.
We have different problems that have evolved in different ways. Our dreams and fear differ too, just as well as our motivations, processes, and influences to make or not to make decisions. This is, then, also true when it comes to how our preferences differ on where, when, how, and what kind of content we want to consume.
So please, sales and marketing teams, don’t silo your channels, teams, tactics, and KPIs just to treat your prospects like chained prisoners dictated by your ideal customer journey, and instead create an opportunity, or if I may, a sales cluster for them to get to know you, get value from you, and yes, to give their money to you.
…to sales cluster
What to do, then?
Don’t worry. The way to make it all work is actually not that different.
We just need one philosophical and one model-related shift
The first philosophical shift is from the idea of lead generation to demand capturing. In lead generation, the concept was from awareness to interest to contract in an isolated funnel, often based on a single piece of content distributed via one or two channels.
In lead generation, we focused on conversion ratios from leads to MQLs, SQLs, meetings, and contracts. As a result, our sales and marketing teams aggressively push conversions with our prospects instead of focusing on solving their problems.
As I hope I clearly stated above, this is not working, and to be honest, it never worked.
What we need to do instead is seamlessly state the problems we are solving and the insights we have across all the channels and formats.
We choose these channels and formats based on understanding where our customers like to consume and what kind of content. Do they scroll LinkedIn, listen to podcasts, hang out at golf courses, or attend industry events? This is the problem cluster part of the sales cluster.
Once the customer understands we can solve their problems, we provide them with the content cluster to learn more about us and our solutions on their terms. This can mean watching a customer reference video on YouTube, booking a demo through our site, asking for pricing via WhatsApp, or downloading a white paper (without giving their email).
The key here is to give the customer a chance to consume content or interact with our sales reps as they like. There’s no linear path to consuming content since every customer and their situation is different, so we need to distribute content and opportunities to interact with our sales according to this.
The good news is that it’s actually a lot easier than you might think. What we need to do is to create pillar pieces of content that scale into different channels and formats.
For example, this blog you’re reading can also be listened to on Spotify as a podcast, watched on YouTube as a video, or seen on LinkedIn as a snippet post.
To support analyzing and iterating pillar content distribution tactics, we also want to align our different channels, such as Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and events, into one holistic cluster managed and lead by a single team or partner.
Creative OS for the rescue
At Norders, we’ve created an operating system framework called Creative OS, a comprehensive analysis, strategy, and plan to create, distribute, and constantly optimize modern sales pipelines with content clusters according to your unique market.
If you want to hear more about this, you can read more about it at www.norders.agency/os.
Now let’s do some meaningful marketing together!