Bin the old B2B sales funnel and get to revenue quicker

For as long as I can remember, the idea of a B2B sales funnel has been drummed into us – the trickle down effect from awareness to sale. When designing traditional thought leadership campaigns, it’s been helpful to think of prospective clients navigating their way from awareness, interest, consideration and finally, purchase – following our trail of content until they are ready to engage. But this approach creates a lose/lose scenario for all parties, holding everyone back from the sale.

Decision makers are having to do more work themselves (57% of the journey before they engage), whilst we wait for opportunities to fall from the top of the funnel – and rinse our budgets in the process. The torrents of content served along the way can lead to purchase paralysis or – at worst – turn people off for good. It's no wonder that sales and marketing professionals are seeing diminishing returns from mass lead generation tactics.

Most thought leadership campaigns and content marketing prioritise awareness by design, with no plan on how to drive sales. On average, only 3% of qualified leads actually convert and no B2B company can afford this collateral damage, especially for those clients and prospects identified as key targets for growth.

But there is an alternative. It is possible to shortcut the typical B2B sales funnel and get to revenue and faster. When it comes to those services, clients and prospects that matter most, bin the B2B sales funnel!

A sales-first campaign with a provoking proposition at its core – often the key ingredient missing from most marketing content – will engage buyers sooner and get to sales faster. It prioritises winning work over general awareness, with clients and prospects that represent your biggest bets for growth. These campaigns shortcut the trickle down sales funnel by:

  1. Generating Demand: “I need to buy this.”

  2. Inspiring Action: “I need to buy this now.”

  3. Differentiating: “I need to buy this from you.”

A provoking sales proposition uncovers new ways clients or prospects can grow revenue, save costs, penetrate new markets or mitigate risk that they have yet to spot themselves. It is the most effective way – by far – to increase their propensity to buy and buy now – a whopping 53% compared to brand (19%), product/service (19%) and price (9%)

Three principles for crafting a provoking sales proposition

I've spoken to senior sales and marketing professionals who have spent years trying to develop their propositions! But it is possible to get there quickly – even in as little as five days – if you know what you're looking for and focus on answering these three questions: 

  1. What high-level goals are your clients or prospects looking to achieve? These need to be business critical and high up their strategic agenda in order to demand action.  

  2. What have they overlooked/failed to realise, in the pursuit of these goals? This is where you provoke: what could they start doing, stop doing or do differently that would make them more successful in achieving their most important goals and that they – and your competition – have overlooked? And what evidence do you need to make them believe you (monetary, or other meaningful data), to build your business case to act?

  3. How are you uniquely placed to help? What distinct capabilities – or combination of capabilities – do you have that makes you best placed to help realise their goals over and above the competition? You need to create new opportunities only you can win.

For example, a provoking sales proposition for an advisor targeting Private Equity (PE), could look something like this:

Target clients’ high level business goal

Facing diminishing returns and huge competition for viable investment opportunities in the mid-market, PE firms need to find investable companies at scale, ahead of competitors, that will generate long term value.

What PE have overlooked

The traditional approach to assessing investment opportunities is skewed to current performance over future potential, which is leading to inflated valuations of up to 20% – putting long term value creation at risk.

Why Company X is best placed to help

Company X has a unique methodology for more accurately forecasting potential return on PE acquisitions.

With B2B marketing facing diminishing returns from lead generation, they are looking for alternatives to accelerate the pipeline for their biggest bets for growth – those they can't afford to get lost in the funnel. A sales-first campaign with a provoking proposition at its core is certainly part of the answer, helping clients to buy and businesses to sell. Win/win. 

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