Steve Crepeau sent me a couple of funnel management articles this week. One simply posed a question (Do you know where your sales pipeline is?); but it’s the other that I want to comment about

In asking “Who changed the sales funnel“, he suggests that the market has changed, and I agree. Customers do much more homework before engaging with sales people now, and this is a great opportunity for Marketing to make a big difference.

Being on the list (positioned in category) is no longer enough. While you are positioning as a credible provider with valid opinions worth sharing, you also need to shape the buyers’ concept. If you sell a product or service that is faster, slower, more expensive, less expensive, you need to build the case for this in the form of the customers’ concept, rather than yours.

That is, use thought leadership to help potential buyers to believe they need a solution which is faster, slower, more expensive, less expensive before they discover that yours is. Otherwise, by the time they discover how yours is different, you’ve probably already lost the deal.

Our in-house team of writers are busier than ever writing content for clients because savvy marketers have realised that they need to offer valid opinions worth listening to, before they offer valid solutions worth buying.

But there’s lots to do before you start writing, and that is the role of the sales and marketing plan. It should detail:

  • your objectives
  • the problem you are in the business of solving
  • who most has this problem (your target)
  • what best solves it (your product / service)
  • who can best uncover this problem (your channel)
  • how many need to become interested / troubled / clear / biased every week, month, quarter and year of your plan (your velocity)
  • how you will achieve this (your tactics), and
  • how you’ll know how you’re tracking (your measurement)

Without this clarity, then any fool can write you a few words. Great thought leadership is engaging (for sure), but also directional. Are you clear where are you trying to take your buyers from and to with each piece you build?