We recently caught up with Andrew Gaffney, editor and publisher of DemandGen Report, to get a better handle on what Gaffney refers to as the “reverse engineering” of the sales funnel.
In the old days (oh, about three years ago), sales executives sought to fill the top of the sales funnel with as many prospects as possible. To get a sense of which prospects should be considered qualified and, thus, legitimate business opportunities, sales reps then had to wade through the froth.
Today, however, the sales funnel is being viewed from a different angle, Gaffney said. “Now, you don’t start from the top down with 50,000 leads, with X amount going to conversion; rather, you closed 20 deals last year and out of those deals, you got the intelligence: What were the touches? Which lead-gen campaigns worked? How can we focus on similar buyers?”
Indeed, the “spray-and-pray” approach that has long defined lead gen is gradually being eclipsed by micro-targeting, Gaffney said. “As companies get more sophisticated about marketing, they’re demanding that [sales and marketing departments] get more granular with their intelligence,” he said. “Sales and marketing has to be smarter about segmenting.”
Gaffney added that social media can help sales and marketing departments to accumulate more information about prospects and separate the good leads from the bad. “Buyers are shifting their budgets to social media and that dictates even more of a need for [market intelligence],” he said. “[Social media] is one piece of the pie, but sales and marketing execs have got to be part of the conversation with buyers.”
According to The BtoB Buyer Transformation Study, 25% of b-to-b buyers said that social media influenced their selection of a solution provider, while 43% of those surveyed followed a discussion/conversation/thread in social media to learn more about a particular topic.
The survey, which was conducted by DemandGen Report and released earlier this month, took the pulse of 100 b-to-b buyers. It found that 22% of buyers connected directly with potential solution providers via social networks and roughly 20% of respondents engaged with thought leaders in XYZ space through social networks. “It’s not a matter of building a big booth [at a trade show], anymore,” Gaffney said. “You have to find people where they’re living online provide the type of content they want.”
Access the full ”Transformation” study here.