Working with sales management teams around the country, I often see the desire to “fill the sales funnel” overshadowing straightforward logic. Instead of ready, aim, fire, modern tactics have turned into ready, fire and we will aim or qualify prospects afterwards. We were all taught to accept that if you put prospects in the top of your sales funnel and work them until you realize they are not a good fit or they elect to take another path then you are following the proper process of the sales cycle. If too many prospects don’t make it out of the end of the funnel and result in sales, managers often sent their troops out to find more people to pour into the top of the funnel. Again, not worrying about aiming, just fire away and we will spend time money and company resources to do the aiming later. That is why the graphic chosen for the selling cycle process is a funnel.
What if there was a way to work towards reshaping that funnel into more of a cylinder? You would be spending more of your time and resources on people who would have a greater probability of making it all the way through the selling cycle and becoming customers. Your order cycle would be quicker, there would be fewer distractions from people who will never buy from you, and your overall cost of sales would drop. So how do you change the shape of the selling cycle from a funnel to a cylinder?
It begins with losing the thinking that quantity is better than quality. The reality is that standing on the edge of the woods, shooting, and hoping something runs into your shot, is not hunting. The quality over quantity goal begins with identifying the profile of the person who already wants or is predisposed to wanting your product or service. How do you do that? Easy, look at your existing customers. Profile them and study why they bought from you. This will give you will have your ideal customer profile. Armed with your new knowledge, go out and hunt only for that profile. Avoid the temptation to spend your time with just anyone. Remember, it is quality you want, not quantity. No more ready, fire, aim. You want your selling cycle to look more like a cylinder not a funnel.
This immediately rules out cold calling. There is no way you can know a person’s profile by cold calling. Sure you can ask, if you get through, but you are back to wasting time putting everyone into your sales cycle and qualifying them later. Using social media, such as LinkedIn, if used properly and integrated with your ideal customer profile is a start, but beware; many LinkedIn zealots have transferred the quantity over quality methodology from the old sales cycle thinking. Some users are out to see how many people they can connect with and they wear the number of people in their network as a badge of honor thinking this is the new measure of success. Some Twitter users have also fallen into the same trap. They have confused how many people are following them with listening and tweeting. Are you focused on the right people? Your social media efforts must be integrated with your ideal customer profile. This will give you the first two components of Integrated Social Selling. The other components of Integrated Social Selling will continue to assist you in pushing out those sides of the sales funnel so it will look more like a cylinder.
Leave the Ready, Fire, Aim strategy for the people who have no direction, purpose or plan and are willing to bet their fate on luck, rather than following an Integrated Social Selling Playbook.
Author: Rich Lucia