Written By: Louis Holzman
Picture this: You just started you new job in a sales or marketing role, maybe even a founder of a company in a different state. In unfamiliar territory you wonder how do you find new prospects, gain brand awareness, and expand your circle of influence in your newfound professional career. The answer? Networking. Simple right? To some yes, to others no. Some of it comes from your personality and who you are, but with the tools available to us in the digital age one would be hard pressed to find an excuse to get around networking. It’s all online: social media, apps like Thumbtack, Angie’s List, and Meet Up are now being used by tech savvy business people along with other digital marketing like email and text to get your voice, brand, and message out to your audience.
The digital age has changed the game forever, in so many ways. Excuses and complaining can no longer be existent in today’s world of business. It’s a 24/7 market place and we have so many tools to capitalize on.
Basic networking isn’t rocket science. Meeting new people in your area will gain you new business and brand recognition at first, but this can only last for so long. As a new company, you have a lot of balls to juggle, have only a few feet on the ground, and having to manage all the day to day task of each partner or employee. You should try to get to as many local networking events as you can. You will quickly meet a lot of players in your area, but even this alone will not generate amount of business that is going to turn your company toward exponential growth. It is physically impossible to be in multiple places at one time, limiting how many events and how many people you are able to meet and talk to. Keeping in mind that the majority of people you meet will not do business with you, to scale, finding a solution that will bring more people in contact with you is a must.
In 2016 we have no excuse. Information and ways to connect to people and businesses are literally in the palms of our hands. Looking through social media, and finding a specific company and point of contact isn’t “creeping” anymore, it’s expected. It’s common practice to do due diligence and investigative background checks into the company or individual you’re interested in before or even after a meeting, even when you are scouting to give them a first phone call. These tactics only scrape the surface of what is possible when trying to drive traffic to your business.
The full idea of this is called a digital sales funnel. Every organization that wants to expand past their region, increase revenue, and provide more jobs need this type of funnel in today’s business world. What does a “digital sales funnel” include? The infographic below displays a basic example, but is not limited to the following. https://rare.io/blog/nurturing-customers-along-the-sales-funnel-with-email-for-ecommerce/
Within this funnel, each stage is just as crucial as the next or previous, and will not be an effective “funnel” if one is missing. Stage 1: Generate Leads. This is where your marketing and “feet on the ground” comes into play the most. All of your campaigns with social media, search engine and email are used to be guide traffic directly back to your website or ecommerce storefront. This is the first step in the process, and one that you can’t overlook. In some ways, the new “SEO” could be “Synchronize Everything Online.” Obviously your branding should be consistent, but this goes beyond the branding into the messaging that you put on every platform. It all needs to be uniform and giving the same message to every user who may see it across mediums. These mediums include but are not limited to Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Google Adwords, etc to name a few.
Stage 2 is where companies and people either really win the battle, or flop in failure. The purpose of creating all the content and synchronizing all your internet mediums is to push people further down your pipeline. In the digital sales funnel, the next step is getting them on your website or ecommerce store. Here, they are either going to be completely hooked and into what you have to offer, or dissatisfied and confused with what they are looking at. Your web page needs to be clean, relevant, include copy that sends the right message, and mobile responsive at the very least. Your web page should be looked at like a living breathing tool you have to feed new content, optimize regularly, and A/B test efficiency of navigation and layout for ease of customer use. If people do not connect with you on this platform, they will not buy from you nor will they be pushed to the next most crucial stage in the funnel, the follow up.
Although the follow up is in stage 3, it is believed to be the most important stage of them all. If you or your team lacks follow up, how do you expect to close sales or increase growth? Luck will only happen for so long, this IS NOT a set it and forget it. The fortune is in the follow up, rarely will people come to you asking to take their money, you have to go get it! If you are working with a team, make a system to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. A separate email address that inquiries from your site can be funneled to is a good place to start. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org may be an address that multiple team members have access to. That way, when requests come in, either everyone responsible for sales or digital marketing is notified.
The last piece to this, as well as the original reason you created this funnel in the first place, is sales. To get here you have to have your digital marketing efforts synchronized, your web page monitored, adjusted, and optimized, and your follow ups professional and systematic. Now the fun and easy part right? Closing the sale. This takes skill within itself, some leads will come through the pipeline and close themselves, while others can take months of going back and forth to find the right value proposition. Each sale will be different but the tactics, and process should be the same, especially as you refine them over time.
The take home point here is that no person or business should have the excuse in 2016 that their business is failing because they can’t meet new customers or businesses. It’s impossible not to in the digital age, you just need to know and understand how, why, and where to start. The most value comes from a duplicable system, and that’s where a digital sales funnel comes into play..