Despite rumors of its death, the sales funnel remains very much alive. However, what has died is marketing’s traditional approach to the funnel. The idea of the sales funnel is no longer about dumping leads generated from a campaign, tradeshow, referral, or any other interaction into a database; determining how “hot” they are as a prospect; and turning them into a customer. Instead, the concept is open-ended – maybe even resembling the shape of a mug rather than a filter.
For marketers, this is quite a challenge. They must now not only take leads through the funnel until there is a clear intent to buy, but also turn new clients into advocates willing to spread the word about the brand to their connections, company, market, and industry. To be successful, this means that marketing must collaborate effectively and in real time across every organization that interacts with customers.
How will your marketing organization keep your sales funnel alive and well in 2016? For some companies, the path to transparent customer intelligence is as simple as the social collaboration tools we use in our daily lives.
Customers are more unpredictable than ever before and do not take the same path down the funnel. They enter and emerge the sales funnel at various stages and, at times, disappear for long periods of time before they initiate the final purchase.
For marketers who are trying to keep up, they cannot afford to get lost in e-mail chains and outdated reports and spreadsheets. Without a central location for collaboration, it is very difficult to improve business processes that provide transparency into the latest information on any lead, prospect, and client.
According to the March 2015 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SAP, titled The Total Economic Impact™ of SAP Jam, social collaboration is an incredible vehicle for providing information quickly, accurately, and easily to the right people at the right time. Because social collaboration platforms deliver all relevant information on any potential and existing account 24×7, employees do not have to search for information, wade through reports from different sources, and wait for a response. In fact, in the study, Forrester calculated that social collaboration enabled a composite organization to be 14% more productive.
According to CEB, the average buyer is 57% done deciding whether they are planning to purchase long before their first interaction with a sales representative or channel. As a result, customers tend to fall through the funnel undetected, appear without warning, and take an undefined journey.
By connecting communications and information with every customer-facing organization, marketers can have a better sense of each customer’s journey. From the initial Google search to a call into customer service, marketers can pinpoint when and where the “next big deal” may happen.
More important, other organizations have an opportunity to help move customers along the funnel. Take customer service, for example. Using social collaboration, customer service can quickly locate the best experts and information across the company to answer any need. They can also access a complete customer view, including service and sales histories, and quickly gather the right team to handle escalations of any degree of difficulty. While this experience builds the customer’s trust and loyalty, Forrester revealed that it also leads to a 10% faster resolution of customer and internal issues with an associated annual financial benefit of approximately $384,600.
The key to the 2016 sales funnel: Real-time transparency, access, and communication
For years, efficient collaboration has been a holy grail that eluded many. However, marketing organizations that have achieved real-time transparency, access to information, and company-wide communication know social collaboration is the secret. By centralizing collaboration to streamline and connect business processes, marketers can accelerate the transformation from lead to customer to brand evangelist.
Are you interested in how social collaboration can help your marketing team? Check out The Total Economic Impact™ Of SAP Jam, a March 2015 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SAP.