When it comes to marketing and sales, the internet changed everything. The changes caused by the internet, and its offspring social media, have not caused an evolutionary step in the way businesses go about marketing and sales but caused a revolutionary step. The internet and social media have caused businesses to re-think their old marketing and sales models and adopt an entirely new one that leverages the internet. The old image of the sales funnel that represents converting prospects into sales is no longer a valid one. A completely new marketing and sales model have been spawned by the advent of the internet and social media, rendering the old model ineffective and essentially obsolete.
With the old paradigm, it was simply a numbers game. Marketing would identify prospects and the salesman would try to close the deal once they made contact. A salesman who called 100 people might expect that 2 or 3 will eventually make their way through the sales funnel and become customers. Some called this the “spray and pray” model. In the old paradigm, salesmanship was king. Today, with nearly everyone connected to the internet, it is much less about how the seller sells and more about how the buyer buys.
Consider the typical chronology of the buying cycle. Most of the time, there is no need to buy a product or service. Then, for a brief period, the buyer develops a need, so they identify a provider and fulfill the need. Once the need is fulfilled, the buyer returns to a no-need state again. The only sales point in the cycle for the provider to capitalize on is when the need occurs and the buyer is searching for a solution. Where there is no need, any promotion, which is more or less a push strategy, is an unwanted interruption to the prospect.
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One way a buyer will locate a provider to fulfill their need is via an internet search. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into play. However, the new marketing paradigm involves identifying potential customers and then “nurturing” them until they become viable and ready to buy.
To be clear, potential customers are customers that may likely buy from you at some point in the future just not now. Viable customers are customers that are in the narrow window where the need exists right now. Finding potential customers was the traditional domain of marketing. No longer is a potential customer just turned over to sales so the salesman can deliver their sales pitch in the hope the prospect is in the “need” stage at that moment.
Today, the new marketing/sales paradigm is to have the company maintain communications with the potential customer, most often via a social media platform (a pull strategy vs. the advertiser’s push strategy), by providing meaningful and relevant content until the potential buyer becomes viable and is ready to buy. This new strategy embraces the successful “know-like-trust” marketing and sales concept. The new “nurture” marketing and sales strategy has a much higher closing rate than the old “spray and prays” strategy.
Therefore, the role of the traditional salesman has changed from being a pure numbers-driven game to one that involves communicating meaningful and relevant content over an extended period of time, nurturing the prospect until they are ready to buy.
Do you employ the old numbers-driven sales funnel approach or do you employ a more customer nurturing approach?
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