Not a sales cycle, a buyer’s journey (or, from funnel to flywheel)
Not a sales cycle, a buyer’s journey (or, from funnel to flywheel)

By on in Strategy

Not a sales cycle, a buyer’s journey (or, from funnel to flywheel)

In recent years, there’s been a shift in how we talk about sales and marketing. While the cycle and funnel have long been preferred metaphors in our profession, new terms are now usurping them.

Today, it’s all about the buyer’s journey and the marketing or sales flywheel.

What’s driving this change? And more importantly, what does it actually mean for your team, customers, and business?

 

Times change; language evolves with it.

The words we use to describe our world shift as our reality does.

“Funnel” and “cycle” are relics of a bygone, pre-internet age. Sales and marketing efforts were purely outbound in those days. Most attention you earned from new prospects came because you sought it out.

The digital revolution ushered in the era of inbound leads. Today, people who aren’t even on your radar can come to you. And perhaps even more incredibly, you can identify them quickly, easily, and accurately and begin lead nurturing.

The other shift brought on by digital is the role of the customer. With referrals and recommendations supercharged by tools like review sites and tactics like influencer marketing, today’s customer plays an outsized role in your business’s growth.

Your team is no longer driving the sales and marketing processes alone. The terms “buyer’s journey” and “flywheel” highlight the customer’s centrality.

 


Today, it’s possible for buyers to have zero contact with a human before purchasing. How can your marketing and sales teams collaborate to improve the experience for all customers, regardless of their level of engagement with your sales team?

 

Adjusting words and actions

When the world changes around us, it’s not enough to simply shift how we discuss it. We must also alter the way we act or risk getting left behind. We know what happens to brands that don’t embrace transformational change to meet the moment (see: Blockbuster, Kodak, etc.).

Big changes won’t happen overnight, but there are questions you can explore today to begin shifting your mindset toward a buyer’s journey and flywheel.

1) What are your customer touchpoints? Map out all the ways your customers can interact with your brand. It helps to break this down by stages in the buyer’s journey. For example, in the awareness phase, a customer might find your downloadable whitepaper or register for your newsletter. In contrast, prospects in the decision phase might be registering for a personalized demo or watching an on-demand webinar.

2) How can customers discover your brand? This will include assets you control fully, like your website or social media presence, and those you don’t, like your Google reviews or influencer partnerships.

3) What’s working and what’s not? This is where sales and marketing data come in. It can help you understand weak points in your buyer’s journey. For example, if you have high engagement with a paid social campaign but those leads don’t become customers, you know something between the ad and the website checkout process is causing friction. Data can help you home in on the elements that need adjustment.

4) How can sales and marketing collaborate more effectively? In the olden days, customers had to talk with your sales team as part of the decision-making process. Today, it’s possible for buyers to have zero contact with a human before purchasing. How can your marketing and sales teams collaborate to improve the experience for all customers, regardless of their level of engagement with your sales team?

5) What’s the line between sales and marketing? Related to the previous question, this line becomes murkier in the digital world. What threshold must a lead cross to be considered marketing qualified and ready for handoff to sales? It will take some experimenting and adjusting to fine-tune the interplay between these two teams.

6) How can you incorporate personalization into your buyer’s journey? Surveys show that today’s consumers overwhelmingly want a personalized experience with a brand. Deciding how to incorporate personalization into your approach is a strategic, technical, and logistical conversation.

7) How can you activate your customers’ role in the sales process? Referrals and recommendations happen naturally, but what can you do to drive positive word-of-mouth to really get your flywheel spinning?

If you’re still operating in a funnel or cycle mindset, moving to the journey or flywheel can feel like a monumental shift. And it is, but it’s absolutely possible to make the change.

When you optimize your sales and marketing strategy to align with the realities of the modern age, you create space for business growth, a more harmonious environment for your sales and marketing teams, and a better experience for your customers–outcomes that make the effort all worthwhile.

If you’re ready to embrace the journey or flywheel, we’re here to guide you through.