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April 12, 2017

Fueling the Sales Funnel: A Three-Step Guide to Inbound Sales Success

By David Fullen, Managing Director of North America, TIE Kinetix

Everything in life runs on some form of “fuel.” Humans need food to survive, cars need gasoline to run, and bonfires need wood to burn strong.

The sales funnel is no different: without a steady stream of actionable leads, the funnel will eventually dry out.

A full sales funnel is especially important in today’s marketplace, as the Information Age has allowed customers to independently research a product or service of their own accord with more depth and accuracy than ever before. With inbound leads serving as the main driver of revenue for most sales teams, the sales funnel must be consistently filled at the top with a strong lead generation program.

This holds especially true for vendors selling through partners, as that is where a large percentage of revenue is derived. Having a filled and healthy indirect sales funnel is key to sales success.

So what can a company do to ensure it is not only driving new leads for their channel partners, but also helping convert them into sales? Read on to discover three steps you can take to accomplish just that.

1. Content, content, content

Content has always been king, but, in today’s digital-first marketplace, it is increasingly important to create compelling, dynamic content across more channels than ever before. The type of content brands are creating has also evolved. It is not just about webinars and white papers – brands need to diversify their content programs to incorporate creative social and interactive content such as videos, infographics, shareable images, and so on. Companies that create high-quality marketing collateral – then distribute that content through channel partners to a wide range of viewers – will ultimately be the ones that generate the most inbound leads. With that said, high-quality content creation is just the beginning of a successful lead-gen program.

To ensure the best return on content investment, your messaging must be consistent across all partners and marketing platforms – easily shareable, timely, and aligned to the journey of the buyer. Even if your content is high quality, leads will not be generated if the content is disseminated at the wrong time, to the wrong audience, and with inconsistent brand messaging. One of the biggest challenges for vendors working with numerous resellers is to make sure the content does not get outdated, inconsistent, or corrupted during the journey. The distribution channels provided to partners also need to be well diversified. Email marketing, social media, events, and pay-per-click advertising should all be leveraged equally to ensure demand is consistently generated.

2. Optimize Lead Conversion

With a healthy content strategy established, the next step is to take those leads and convert them to sales in an efficient manner. An inefficient lead conversion program is every bit as detrimental to bottom-line revenue as an empty sales funnel, because it risks letting leads go cold and untouched for lengthy periods of time. Additionally, a manual lead conversion process only leaves you open to error – this is where CRM tools come in.

Using CRM to manage your leads and your partners’ leads is a crucial step in today’s marketplace, as the speed of the customer journey necessitates an automated process for managing high-volume leads on the fly. Having tools like a shopping cart or a sales resource center can not only help you close sales, it can allow you to focus on creating better content to generate more leads to fill the funnel. A shopping cart, for example, ensures that customers can buy directly from your partners’ Websites, close a deal immediately, or save potential purchases and keep shopping rather than abandon an item midway through browsing. Critical tools such as this ensure brands do not lose customers midway through the path to purchase.

3. Leverage Analytics Effectively

The final step in the process is a rather simple one, but it is also, unfortunately, the step many companies neglect – analytics. With today’s technology, there is simply no excuse for not having a rock-solid understanding of the in-depth metrics that drive your channel sales numbers. Metrics like demographic information, bounce rates, and conversion percentages are easily available from a wide range of analytics tools for partners of all sizes. If you do not accurately analyze your data, you cannot repeat what has worked – or improve upon what did not.

By giving you access to the who, what, where, why, and how many of your direct and indirect sales funnel, analytics tools can ultimately help you understand your leads and customers in a way that allows you to create more targeted content, which ultimately leads to more inbound requests and more bottom-line revenue for your business.

The formula to fueling your sales funnel can seem daunting in the digital era, but boils down to three key steps: align content to the buyer’s journey, deliver the right content at the right time through diverse channels, and automate that content. Do this successfully and you will be attracting and converting leads to dramatically improve your sales. Pair that with solid CRM and analytics tools and you will be able to repeat that process over and over again with minimal effort.

Today’s post is by David Fullen, managing director of North America at TIE Kinetix