Automation of the marketing and sales “funnel” has many productivity advantages, so long as the implementation of the software works, which is always harder than the smiling assurances of the automation salespeople would indicate.
However, there is one benefit that is largely ignored that can have a significant impact, irrespective of the software implementation: the classification of leads into categories that reflect the leads individual behavior and the expected sales strategy to be implemented.
The usual process to date, encouraged by the “Sales Funnel” has assumed that all prospects travel progressively down the funnel in a consistent homogeneous manner. Clearly, nothing could be further from the truth, every situation is different.
Following is a list of the categories I have used in the past to classify prospects. They can be managed simply in a spreadsheet, or elsewhere on a continuum that ends with extreme software intervention, but irrespective of the tool, the nail still looks the same.
- Newly identified prospects, with little information.
- Leads that have been “qualified” by marketing, but sales has rejected, or failed to move ahead.
- Leads that sales has qualified as “hot” and therefore become a priority, at least in the eyes of some sales people.
- Leads that are really just contacts not ready to progress towards a sale, but with whom you need to just maintain contact.
- Contacts that need some marketing input to turn into qualified leads
- Contacts that are really just “tyre-kickers”
- Leads you have lost contact with, but who may be “restarted”
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, those who have for some reason or another dropped out of the funnel at some point, and who can be recycled back into the system.
Each of these is different, although there are grey areas between them, and each requires a tailored approach based on the history of the prospect, their role, purchase decision making power, and many other factors.
Before automation, there was little consideration of the real behavior of prospects, now, irrespective of automation, you need to be considering the sales funnel from the perspective of the “Funnellee”