The Sales Cycle in a Digital World

In the pre-digital world, the sales and marketing departments of companies often had well-defined routes from potential prospect to actual customer. The route a prospect took from initial contact to making a purchase was known as the Sales Funnel.

And a lot of time and thought was given to understanding this customer journey, and how to fine-tune a company’s sales funnel.

For instance, a potential customer may have begun their journey by filling in and posting a coupon they found in a magazine. As a result of this enquiry, they received a product brochure. And on a regular basis, they received a sales newsletter with the latest offers from the company. On average, looking over the statistics of this process, the customers that did buy something did so on between their third and fifth mailing. And if they didn’t buy anything by the eighth mailing, they never did.

Digital Marketing

If we now come forward to the digital age of marketing, we can only dream of something so simple. Nowadays, a potential customer can come into contact with a company through many different channels, technology and media.

There are still going to be off-line points of contact, such as a retail outlet or an industry conference. When we consider the online world, then there can be web browser searches, social media posts and interactions, specialist online stores (such as Amazon), videos posted on YouTube, company blog posts and articles, and so on.

These all offer a company new opportunities for greater engagement with potential customers. They also offer people a powerful way to find the product or service they want, with a company that they want to deal with.

How to Manage the Digital Sales Funnel?

Given the multiple ways that someone can come into contact with your business, how do you manage your sales funnel?

And this is not only more complex because of the number of channels, it is also more complicated because the same person may come into contact with your company in multiple ways, before they make their buying decision.

The answer usually lies in a combination of metrics, designed to measure channel activity and sales results across the broad spectrum of your sales funnel.

Attribution Metrics

Simply measuring activity in given channels is not enough. For example, just because your blog post was read twenty-five times last week, doesn’t mean that it created any sales. Similarly, measuring just closed sales in a given month doesn’t really help either in determining how the customer got there.

So the idea behind Attribution Metrics, is that they combine both marketing and sales data, in order to give a clearer picture of what your sales funnel looks like, and how it is performing. Typically, these metrics will include:

  • Traffic data from marketing channels
  • Tracking your website and/or mobile app visitor behaviour
  • Integrating with your CRM system, to connect on-site behaviour to sales data

Collecting these metrics is quite a challenge, given that most of this data exists on different technical platforms and in different data formats. If you have a small operation, then manually gathering this data may be feasible if you have the expertise. But for many larger companies, specialist software is needed to do this task efficiently and accurately.

Interpreting the Attribution Metrics

Having gathered the data, now the task of analysing it begins. Here are some examples of the sales and marketing insights you can gain.

1. How many interactions on average does it take with a potential customer before they buy?

2. Is there a principle channel for new potential customers (first contact)? Or do they come from many sources?

3. Over what time frame does a potential customer interact with your company before buying?

4. How many potential customers never make it to becoming actual customers?

5. What contribution do personal interactions with your company make to the final sale?

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