SMB Sales Funnel

Before Digital Marketing, a normal Small Business SMB sales funnel includes prospecting and demand creation activities at the top. This is followed and complemented by lead qualification activities, appointment setting, quoting, negotiating and closing by a sales team and its management. All moving the process steadily and inexorably down the mouth of the funnel to the promised land of closed deals and, hopefully, raving fans that spread the word.

Offline Marketing Lessons Learned

Immediately prior to the Great Crash of 2008, homeowners and builders flooded the showrooms and overwhelmed the salesforce teams of stone and tile vendors in the luxury home supply space. The buyers forced their way down the sales funnel at astonishing rates. They had to build and occupy or build and flip the McMansions that were a prominent, if not sole, feature of the greatest real estate bubble in our memory.

Veteran sales teams no longer had to bother with the blocking and tackling of the aforementioned top of the funnel activities. There was no time for that. They became farmers more than hunters. When sales staff was added, the farmer model made more sense. Certain sales process skills were eroded as taking orders ruled the day!

Going back a bit further to a regional example, in South Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, building supply houses needed no sales skills at all. The consumer needed flooring, roofing, cement, lumber, etc. They had insurance checks in hand and prices and terms were non-negotiable. The existing sales teams lost their edge and the new hires were more of the sales clerk variety.

Switching industries to the wireless world of the late ’90’s and early ’00’s, the nascent cell phone business was exploding. Sales people no longer did much of anything but harvest the massive demand. To coin a phrase, “a chicken in every pot and a cell phone in every hand”, was not far from the truth. Why go on a ten phone sales opportunity when there were fifty phone opportunities everywhere. Sales process was far more important than sales skill.

The Reality of Marketing Online

In the end, reality bit. The real estate bubble exploded spectacularly, hurricane ravaged South Florida was rebuilt and cell phones became handheld smart devices. The SMB space was again confronted by the old truths of a smb sales funnel. Veteran sales people had to relearn some old skills… or not. New hires either raised their games or they moved on.

This is the lesson of the digital age. These activities can be automated, tested, refined. A website is your greatest salesman. The top of your funnel should be populated with blog posts, search engine optimization, social media and email marketing. The middle of your funnel should be populated with lead qualification activities like times on site, calls-to-action, downloads, and contact forms. Touches should be tracked with analytics and reported inside your CRM. Each touch should be a specific point in a workflow designed to guide users down the smb sales funnel to becoming your customer.

Take Action Online With Digital Marketing

This is what I believe the lesson is. If you don’t think your organization has recovered from the Great Recession quickly enough, take a snapshot of how it looked before the big run up. Try printing that image and then enhancing it with modern features like inbound marketing and custom workflows and then use it as the blueprint for going forward.

Digital Marketing is one of the best places to outsource to a professional – especially when they are subject matter experts in your industry. Don’t waste valuable time fighting your way through the learning curve. Hire a professional online marketer that knows how to optimize your content for Google’s latest algorithm, where the best place to advertise to your potential customers is, how to set up workflows, and how to engage with your intended audience.