Understanding the powerful interconnection between sales and marketing that leads to top-line growth.
Business owners rightfully expect marketing activities to lead to sales, but how should this work? The question is even more urgent when the focus is on selling to other businesses instead of individuals (so-called business to business, or B2B sales). How can marketing activity support industrial equipment and professional services sales?
The only way marketing communication will positively impact topline growth, otherwise known as “sales in the income statement,’’ is through a tight interconnection between “marketing” and “sales”. A valuable exercise is to visualise this interconnection, otherwise known as the purchase funnel.
Take a piece of paper and list all your marketing and sales activities and draw a line that connects it to your prospective customer and a potential sale. This line represents the purchase funnel of your business. It’s seldom straight, meaning it may start with someone seeing a post on LinkedIn, then taking a detour to your website before going back to LinkedIn and then emailing you.
Understanding the purchase funnel of your business is one of the most powerful concepts in entrepreneurship. It is essentially the growth engine of the business. Knowing how marketing connects with sales, how it connects with customers and ultimately how it connects with purchase allows you to take a much more proactive stance towards driving topline growth.
Most entrepreneurs feel rather disempowered as they grow their companies. They try and do the best they can, but ultimately it comes down to crossing fingers and blind hope that someone will buy what they must sell. There will always be an element of hope and luck involved, but this percentage should be dwindling. You should take more control and gain more confidence in your ability to make the next sale.
Visualising your purchase funnel is not a new concept, and has gone through numerous iterations, but the basics remain the same, no matter what clever consultants try and sell you. It starts with someone – a total stranger (to make this real) becoming aware of your business, typically through some sort of marketing activity that they get exposed to. If the marketing activity touches a nerve, i.e. speaks to a need they have, it should lead to them showing interest in what you have to say. Interest leads to a desire to learn more and even trial your offering, followed ultimately by a sale.
It’s called the AIDA model, and has been with us for over a hundred years:
Awareness → Interest → Desire (or trial) → Action (purchase).
The way the model resembles a funnel is because typically the top part, where you focus on awareness, is targeted at as many prospective buyers and then becomes narrower and narrower as it moves to interest and eventually to that next sale.
Almost everyone knows that they need a marketing strategy, but few know what this means in practice. In its simplest form, a marketing strategy is to have clarity on the purchase funnel of your business.
It should answer the questions:
● What do we do to raise awareness?
● How do we spark potential interest?
● How do we provide a taster of what we offer?
● How do we walk the last mile to convert a sale?
This is marketing strategy 101. It is also all you are likely to need because let’s be honest, we are not trying to put a man on the moon.
Think of all the marketing activities you are doing and the infrastructure around it. That outdated website; dormant Facebook page, old brochure and non-existent brand. Then ask yourself: how do these string together to bring me business? If it doesn’t, it may be time to either switch off certain marketing activities completely or make drastic improvements, starting with a clear marketing strategy.
There is indeed a powerful interconnection between marketing and sales, and translating one into the other, efficiently, is the role of a well-defined marketing strategy that is executed deliberately. It is all about moving prospects into your marketing funnel, on one end, and through the funnel towards the eventual sale.
Call it the marketing mechanics that drives topline growth. Despite the power of the concept, very few businesses have a visual on their purchase funnel and even fewer deliberately drive business through it. No wonder so much marketing goes to waste!
Bernard Jansen has an MBA, is a marketing consultant and founder of Firejuice, offering marketing strategy and management services to small and medium sized companies. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org, Visit: www.firejuice.co.za