Before getting into the details of how influencer marketing can help improve sales cycle, let’s dissect the terms ‘influencers’, ‘marketing’ and ‘sales cycle’ in order to understand them better.
Sales Cycle: Even though selling may seem a simple process involving the buyer, seller and the product, it is more complex. The complexity increases when companies are selling a product to customers owing to multiple factors. Some of them include customers, price, competitors and the list goes on. Even when a single product is being sold by a seller to a buyer, the seller invariably follows the various stages within the sales cycle. So, to put a definition to sales cycle, it can be defined as a process that companies journey through while selling a product to a customer.
Different stages of Sales Cycle:
Identifying prospective customers: In order to sell a product, the seller needs to have few things beforehand. Firstly, the seller should know everything about the product he is selling. Once, the seller has a thorough knowledge about his product, he would know the problem or requirement that his product will be able to address. Based on this understanding, he will also be able to identify his prospective customers.
Reach out to prospective customers: This is the initial contact that companies or sellers make with potential customers. This initial contact could be a phone call or an email. It is not necessary that the prospective customer will immediately respond to the initial call of sellers.
Screening prospective customers: At this stage, the company may have a lot of contacts and reaching out to each and every contact may not be the right approach. Hence, in order to save time, money and resources, company may have a screening criteria based on which it may filter out few customers. Some of the factors of this filtering process could be whether the prospective customer is the decision maker or whether he has interest in the product or not.
Demonstration of the product: The stage is set for meeting with the potential customer and presenting the product. Based on the nature of the product and the mode of selling of the company, this meeting could be a face-to-face meeting.
Convincing the customer: A lot of different factors come into play in the process of the prospective customer getting convinced with the benefits of the product that may motivate him to make a purchase of the product. Prospective customer might come up with a lot of objections and it is the duty of sales rep to convince the customer and clear his objections. Companies may also need to do negotiation with regards to price. At this stage, prospective customer may decide to purchase the product and become a customer or he might decide buying a competitor’s product.
Deal Closure: Assuming that the prospective customer decides to purchase the product, the deal will be closed by the company with the customer.
Referrals: One happy customer could bring in many prospective customers to the company. Hence, companies always strive to keep their customers happy so that by word of mouth or by recommendation, he can refer the product to more prospective customers. Companies at this stage, take the opportunity to seek referrals from happy customers.
Sales Funnel: Sales Funnel is a cycle with various stages depicting the customers journey from the time of his awareness about the product till the final action which is purchase of the product. The various stages of sales funnel may include:
Awareness stage: Prospective customers get to know the existence of a product in the market that can meet his requirement. This awareness might come through various channels such as through existing customers of the product or through media etc.
Interest stage: Prospective customers show interest towards the product and could do some research from their end to better understand and determine whether a product is able to address their needs or not.
Decision Making Stage: At this stage, based on the research and other factors such as price and aggressive marketing tactics adopted by company, prospective customers could get convinced to purchase a product.
Purchase Action: This is the stage where prospective customers buy the product and become customers of the company.
At the current highly complex business scenarios, companies do not want to leave any leaf unturned in order to retain customers and increase sale revenue. They may adopt different techniques and technologies such as Sales CRM to attract customers and drive sales. Influencer marketing is one such marketing strategy to drive sales. So, let’s get straight into the topic and see how influencers can improve every step of sales cycle.
Influencers: In business, influencers are those individuals who can significantly influence the purchase decision.
Research Phase: At this phase where prospective customers are in the research mode to identify that specific product which can best meet their requirements, an opinion or review from experts to influence the prospective customer’s decision is invaluable.
Positioning brand credibility: The best way to position the brand and increase the credibility of the brand on top of competitor’s brands is to add photos, links and quotes via the brands channels with a mix of influencer messaging.
The above are only examples of how influence marketing can improve the sales cycle. However, influence marketing can create a positive impact at every stage of sales cycle.