The Sales Funnel is Great. Don’t Forget to Ask for the Sale.

Sales-funnelIt seems everywhere you turn in business-to-business (B2B) marketing nowadays someone is promoting how their media, software, process, etc. moves prospects down the sales funnel.  Providing the right content at the right time and frequency to keep prospects engaged with your company is all the rage.

Several years ago I was involved in contributing to The Lead Generation Handbook, by Bernie Goldberg.  One of the points consistently made throughout the Handbook was in the lead development process be sure to always provide the ability to request a personal visit/make the purchase.

Today we seem to have become so enamored with the conversation and engagement that we sometimes forget to ask for the sale.

Our messages have become more and more about engagement. That’s great, but we need to remember that at every step of the way we ask: “ Are your ready to purchase?” or “Would you like to meet with one of representatives?” or whatever the identified conversion step is that you would like to achieve.

While you are moving prospects down the funnel and asking for the desired conversion the creative approach can be an important factor in maximizing the desired conversion result.

It’s important to not be boring! B2B studies often indicate the target audience feels the messages lack any compelling engagement. Just because we are at work, doesn’t mean we stop being human. So remember to inject human emotion and personal value – how the response could provide the prospect with greater recognition, make them look good and has the potential for a career boost — into all of your creative and messaging.

Well-written, believable storytelling is a great way build a relationship and move prospects down the funnel. According to “The Psychology of Stories: The Storytelling Formula Our Brains Crave,” by Shane Jones, stories create sensory experiences that influence our way of thinking. So when you tell a memorable story, you create a picture in the mind of your audience. This can change the way the reader or listener feels about your brand, and may increase their willingness to do business with you.

Another way some companies are keeping prospects engaged and moving them down the funnel is through gamification, especially in the early stages. Cyndi Greenglass from Diamond Marketing Solutions tells of a software security company that created a game that let you try to break in and rob a house. You are the thief, and you get to steal all kind of stuff. In the house are also lots of tokens that allow you to steal their cyber identity. The more you steal the “right stuff” the more points you earn. The game is relevant to the user who also learns something along the way, and it is relevant to the company and what they sell.

This is a much better way to tell the story than another boring brochure or white paper on the cost of identity theft.  But, don’t forget to ask for the conversion in each step.

Mark Weinstein