As sales and marketing professionals, anytime we interact with a prospective customer we can, and should, think about what it is we are trying to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s an inbound, outbound, or physical sales call, an e-mail, a marketing blast, a whitepaper, or a webinar. Anytime we seek to interact with a prospect we should know what it is we are trying to achieve. As a quick test, think of your own sales calls or marketing content, and answer the question, what does this achieve? Maybe it’s one of the following:
Gain awareness of the offering.
Educate the prospect on the business benefits.
Position against the competition.
Provide proof of the return on investment.
Show how others have used our offering.
Highlight a particular functionality.
Demonstrate how easy it is to use.
The list goes on. But, do these represent what we really want from our investments of time and money in sales and marketing? Is it more educated prospects? Prospects that believe in the benefits of our offering or perhaps how easy it is to use? Not really. Though it may come off as crass, what we really want is business results. Yes, we do also want delighted customers that will come back for more and share their positive experience with others – but it all comes down to results.
Unless we are selling a very transactional offering, it is likely to take more than one interaction to complete the process of generating a customer. So, certainly there are milestones along the way. But how do we measure this progress and know that we are moving forward in the right direction? That is where the four sales and marketing imperatives come in. The four, and only four, true objectives for any sales or marketing interaction.
Before I share exactly what the four imperatives are, let’s go Outside-In™. Let’s shift the focus from our internal view of the world, such as a sales process or lead nurturing approaches, to the only thing that really matters. That is the Customer Buying Journey. It’s the only process that matters as it is the only process that ends up with the customer buying. No matter how great our sales processes, lead nurturing, or account-based marketing approaches may be, the only process that successfully concludes with a business transaction is the customer completing their buying journey. Thus, let’s turn our thinking Outside-In™ and look at the Customer Buying Journey.
It is therefore logical that all sales and marketing activities and investments should, if successful, result in positively influencing the buying journey. Which brings me to the question of exactly how we can achieve this, i.e. positively impacting the end-to-end Customer Buying Journey. As stated previously, there are four, and only four, ways in which to do this – indeed the four sales and marketing imperatives. These are:
Initiate. If the prospect is not in a buying journey, we can do something to trigger such a journey. It doesn’t guarantee that they will end up buying, but at least we have got them to think about something in a new or different way that has started the journey.
Accelerate. Once in a buying journey, we could then endeavor to influence the prospect in such a way that they accelerate their buying journey. Perhaps they end up buying this week instead of next week due to a special offer. Maybe we provide a financing option so they can buy this year instead of next. Whatever it may be, we have accelerated their buying journey.
Complete. With this imperative, we are trying to impact the buying journey in such a way that the probability of the customer completing their process with an acquisition of our offering is increased. Perhaps we provide them with a resource to help with their initial usage or we overcome a hurdle they have. Whatever it may be, we are increasing the odds that they successfully complete their buying journey with us.
Augment. The final imperative is where we impact the buying journey so they invest more than they otherwise would have. Perhaps we position an additional service we can provide or the value of an after-market service plan. In any case, we are showing how, by investing more with us, they will gain more value and business benefit from their acquisition.
These are then the four sales and marketing imperatives. Every time we seek to interact with a prospect, we should be able to state which, or how many, of these four imperatives we are seeking to achieve. Every sales call, every marketing campaign, every marketing asset, all should pass the ultimate test of how they are going to positively impact the buying journey.
Over the years we have found that these four sales and marketing imperatives help to focus sales calls and marketing campaigns. It’s simple to ask, and quite possible to measure, how each of our sales and marketing activities will impact one, or more, of these four imperatives.
We encourage you to try it. Each time you load marketing collateral into the library or use Seismic to set up or add to a digital sales room, ask yourself – how will this positively impact the customer’s buying journey? Which of the four, and only four, selling imperatives will this meet?