One thing most entrepreneurs remain concerned about at all times is “feeding the funnel.” In other words, introducing prospects to the product or service being offered. The more qualified prospects exposed to your offering, the more sales you are likely to convert.
This same concern crosses the boundaries between different types of businesses. B2B and B2C enterprises both have funnels. The size and type of the funnel may vary, of course. A retailer will need more foot traffic for instance that will likely be interested in his wares — this is a high number game in most instances. A professional service business will probably have a very small funnel, on the other hand, as the sales tend to be bigger and more consultative in nature.
For startups and growing companies feeding the funnel is an even greater concern. The movie Field of Dreams doesn’t represent reality in the business world. You can’t just build something and expect the customers to find you. You always need to be out prospecting and finding new veins to tap into.
At CustomScoop, we use a variety of methods to feed our funnel. Word of mouth and Google AdWords have historically been the strongest drivers, but we have also had some success with direct mail, email, cold calling, advertising, earned media (both online and off), and other tactics. This year we have beefed up our marketing resources to begin to enhance all of these efforts, with an emphasis on some of the secondary ones that show promise but we need to see if they will be successful as they scale up. In addition, our marketing team is a talented group of individuals with a range of past experience and I expect that they will come up with new, innovative tactics that we can try.
Every entrepreneur needs to spend time thinking about what strategies and tactics will work best to build the sales funnel for each individual company. Different budgets, industries, and target markets all dictate different approaches. And just doing the same thing that competitors do isn’t necessarily effective. Keep in mind that the value proposition each company presents can also alter the sales approach.
In the end, it will require a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best. And it will require continuous tuning. It also requires every member of your startup or small company team to devote at least some time to feeding the funnel. This isn’t something that should be relegated merely to the sales and marketing teams. Everyone can add value here through ideas and action.
Whether you are a one person consulting shop or a venture funded startup with lots of employees, spend some time thinking about the sales funnel every day.