The sales and marketing dudes can make it sound like once someone falls over the line, and they become a customer, the job is done, customers are customers. The problem with this view is that it doesn’t promote the idea of transforming your relationship with your customers once they’re “over the line”. This doesn’t make sense, as many customers will use their first interactions with you as a test for what’s to come…
The customer funnel doesn’t replace the Sales and Marketing Funnel, instead one funnel feeds the other. In which case, why would we even call it a funnel?
In very much the same way that a sales and marketing funnel is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom, the customer funnel will have more customers at the top and not all will make it to the bottom. The difference here; they are ALL customers, but NOT all are equally engaged with your business.
If the Sales Funnel focuses on getting prospects to know, like and then trust you, the customer funnel focuses on enhancing and building that trust. After all, there are different levels of trust!
"...they are ALL customers, but NOT all are equally engaged with your business"
The Sales Benefit of 2-Funnel Thinking
The pressure to secure sales, whether for business continuity or business growth can force a laser-like focus on “the line”. That’s the line that differentiates a customer from a potential customer.
This can also lead to an All-or-Nothing approach when developing your offering to the customer. Telling your customer you can do everything for them can get in the way of you being able to do “something” for them.
If you take away “The Line” and replace it with a junction between 2 funnels, it becomes clear that the capabilities and solutions you offer your customers need to be sized accordingly.
Small wins at the top of the customer funnel help build that vital customer trust, allowing you to increase your offering, and start providing solutions.
This 2-funnel thinking leads to a number of benefits:
1 - Reduced (self-imposed) barriers to sale
With a smaller initial offering at the top of the customer-funnel you’re increasing the likelihood of turning your prospect into a customer. The barriers continue to fall as you deliver, and demonstrate your capability, building that ever important trust.
2 - Increased lifetime value of customers
With the barriers to sale reducing, the ultimate lifetime value of any customer drastically increases. Not to mention, this approach allows you to convert more customers!
3 - Lower risk of over-promising and under-delivering
The risk with trying to sell a customer everything is that you fall short. This leads to a one off customer interaction, or at best, a rocky start to a customer relationship.
The 3 Phases of The Customer Funnel
The scale on the customer funnel is “Customer Trust”, with an increasing level as your customer heads down the funnel. How much your customer trusts you will be demonstrated by how they behave and what they ask of you and your capability.
We’ve therefore devised 3 Phases to the Customer-Funnel, and here they are.
The “Do What We Ask” Phase
This is the top of the customer funnel. The customer has a requirement and your capabilities can fulfill that requirement. You may also call this the “Transactional” part of the relationship, but don’t be misled in thinking this is a “Cold” phase. This is the point in the funnel where trust can quickly be grown.
The “Offer Us A Solution” Phase
This is the middle of the funnel, and this is a great place for your customers to be. Expanding your offering through using more of your capabilities starts to build on the trust you’ve developed in the previous phase.
Your customer may not voluntarily leap into this phase, especially if they’re not aware of your wider capabilities; your ability to offer a solution.
The “Solve Our Problem” Phase
The final phase of the customer-funnel is one that takes a lot of trust. It may take many months or years of interaction, proving yourself and relationship development. The tricky bit with this phase is that it can sound an awful lot like the “Do What We Ask” phase, but there’s a distinct difference.
In this phase of the funnel, your customer invites you to their inner table to solve problem that may or may not actually be directly related to your capability. This can sound really odd, after all, why are they asking you to solve a problem that isn’t really “your bag”?! They’re doing this because they trust your business to deliver as you’ve got the track record.
This is the point at which the potential to expand or deepen your offering is at it’s greatest. That’s not to say you want this relationship with EVERY customer. Customers at this phase of the customer funnel can be quite fundamental to the long term strategy of your business. That’s because these customers not only represent the greatest potential revenue streams, but will probably also represent the highest investment requirement.
The Marketing and Sales funnel is insufficiently equipped to deliver growth in customer trust beyond the first customer order. A 2-Funnel approach switches the focus from getting leads “over the line” to first establishing, and then growing customer trust.
The 2-Funnel approach helps reduce risk, reduce barriers to sale and increase lifetime customer value. What are you waiting for?
We’ve developed 3 phases to the customer funnel, but the important thing to remember is that the scale is customer trust. The Sales Funnel is about getting potential customers to know, like, then take that first leap to start trusting you. In reality, this is just the beginning of your customer relationship and you need the 2-funnel method to plot your path forwards.
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