Note: This info is fresh from this year's Inbound Conference, put on by our friends at HubSpot.
We've been in business since March of this year, and we knew going into it that we wanted to help businesses address two key business issues: Attracting the right prospects, and engaging them with a kickass sales cycle. To illustrate this point, we've talked about the "Marketing Funnel". This is an image from an actual sales deck that I put together about a month ago.
This assumes that you are doing the work to get strangers onto your website, you are giving them valuable information in exchange for their contact information, you are nurturing them through their buyer's journey to determine if they're a good fit, you're facilitating a handoff to your sales team, you're running a well-optimized sales process that overcomes objections and proves value, and you're closing the deal.
But, there's an issue with the sales funnel, isn't there? 10 points if you can spot it. It's too focused on you, the company. And it there's one things we've learned it's that brands thrive the most when they focus on their customers instead of themselves. People don't trust marketers, and they sure don't trust salespeople. So, who do they trust?
15 years ago, a shift happened. The internet made all the information in the world available to everyone. The salesmen and women no longer held all of the information - buyers had access to the same info as sales teams and they began to take back control of their own buying process.
And that's what made Inbound Marketing so effective and so attractive. It put buyers and sellers on the same side, and it empowered buyers to make the best decision - on their own time and on their own terms.
But, that ole funnel - that says that it's the marketers job to attract and to teach. Using sophisticated software, the marketer serves up the right information at the right time to provide value that will either nurture that buyer toward a decision or help them determine that they're not a good fit for that particular service or product. In many of our industries, this funnel overlooks one crucial fact, and that is how immensely important word of mouth can be. It doesn't matter how good (or how bad) your marketing and sales teams are, if your current clients are pissed off, then that's a huge liability and you will always struggle to grow. Period.
Likewise, if you have happy clients and they are raving to all their friends and family about your brand, then your current customer base is one of your hardest working, most important assets.
So, in addition to your marketing efforts, in addition to your sales efforts, it is vital that you focus on delighting your customers and unlocking your promoters - give them permission to rave about your brand.
Image courtesy of HubSpot
When you have the heart, the manpower, and the technology to get feedback in real time, you can turn negative customer service experiences into positive ones. You can turn positive experiences into testimonials. And you can unlock your biggest fans and turn them into walking, talking billboards for your company.
This will likely require a major shift in your company. It may affect the way that you think about compensation packages, bonuses, contracts, pricing, and more. But if your business is going to thrive during the next decade, you are going to have to stop focusing so much on what you are selling and you are going to need to think long and hard about how you are selling and delivering your services.
From a software standpoint, your service requests have to get out of an individual email account. It's unacceptable for one person to be able to slow a service request for days or even weeks. If you haven't moved to a ticketing platform, it's time. Your managers need to be able to pull a report about how the quantity and severity of requests, response times, outstanding issues, and completion times.
You need to have a firm grasp on how well you are responding to service requests, and you also have to have a pulse on the sentiment that your customers have toward your company. Your software needs to be able to send out automated surveys to gather feedback on how well your team is doing. You need to have systems in place to respond to nasty answers and turn bad experiences into good ones.
You need to have a knowledge base. This is a series of articles that answer common questions or problems that your customer has about your service or product. When your customers have questions, they need to be able to find the answer now - without talking to a customer support rep or jumping on the phone. Bonus points for video walkthroughs. Extra bonus points if you are tracking which of your customers are looking at which page and you're following up to make sure that they've found what were looking for.
As a HubSpot Agency Partner, I'm really excited about some new tools that HubSpot has launched to help lay the groundwork for this kind of customer delight strategy. Let's have a conversation about creating a customer-delight strategy for your company that supplements and multiplies the marketing and sales work that you're already doing.