The chart above represents how we think about the challenge of Sales Optimization. Many use a Sales Funnel or Sales Pipeline but we propose those are flawed. Funnels and Pipelines represent the challenge as flowing in one direction and clearly that is not true. Pipelines often represent each stage as being the same size and they are not. The size relationship is critical to the effective management of the Sales Ecosystem.
To understand our Ecosystem chart we need to explain our terminology. Startups are the beginning and their relationship to deaths in the system creates either a growing or shrinking market segment. Suspects are businesses that you suspect you can do business with. Suspects become Prospects when they indicate an interest in your market area. This is the classic Cold Call, First Contact, or Hello. Prospects become Leads when they indicate that interest in your product or service. Leads become Customers when they buy your product or service. Clients are Customers that you have developed a deep enough relationship that they will continue to do business with you even if you make a mistake or are not the low price provider. Evangelists are the source of the highly coveted Referral. Simply put this is when a person has a friend that has a need you serve and they recommend to their friend that they contact you. Evangelists do not HAVE to be customers but they are always Trusted Advisers of the prospect.
Why Seeking Yes?
The transfer path (represented by the line) from one status to another involves a Yes response. You go from:
- Suspect to Prospect by Saying Yes to a first contact offer
- Prospect to Lead by Saying Yes to a product or service pitch
- Lead to Customer by Saying Yes to a Sales Proposal
- Customer to Client by Saying Yes to continuing business even when the business made a mistake or was not the low price provider
- Client to Evangelist by Saying Yes to your friend who asks you for a referral to a business
Our technology is about providing data to the sales team at the right time to help them guide the customer to Yes. Sales in our model are relational and the right data at the right time makes developing those relationships more likely.
Road Map Markers
On the Ecosystem Map above you will see markers like the example above. These are our high level points for our technology strategy. Below this is dialog about what we see at each of these critical conversion points in the flow.
- Suspects to Prospects happens when a business expresses interest in your product or service. This is typically some form of Yes to an interest call. I tell you that I sell X and you say I am interested tell me more. That is a Yes response to a first contact. We are bringing in data from multiple sources to indicate the probability of the First Contact resulting in a Yes response.
- Startups to Suspects happens when a new business is detected in the market. Detecting new businesses in a market is not the same as finding a new business. Many times this conversion happens when an established business enters a new market for them. For example as a Plumber business grows it is common for them to enter the HVAC market or other home service markets.
- Prospects to Leads happens when the business expresses an interest in a specific product or service and you start the proposal and negotiations phase of the sales relationship.
- Leads to Customers happens when the deal is accepted and the order is processed. Many businesses make a big mistake and stop selling to the business at this point. In this conversion competitive actions in the market, pricing, and past performance are a few of the driving forces our systems will monitor.
- Customers to Clients is all about developing a relationship that creates value in the mind of the customer. The deeper the relationship the more it can modify the results. Make a mistake or become a higher price provider with a customer and they are gone. With a Client relationship the business can survive the challenge. Our system will monitor for events and feed data to sales reps that will set the stage for them to nurture this relationship.
- Clients to Evangelists happens when business tells their friends about your product or service when their friend “NEEDS” what you do. Evangelists commonly come from Clients or Customers but not always. The key here is that they are trusted adviser for the business with the need. Many times CPAs, Lawyers, and other trusted advisers are the source of referrals even when they are not a customer.
- Back-flow from Customers, Clients, and Evangelist are a specific challenge to Sales and our system will help detect events that create specific opportunities. The red lines represent the recurring orders from Customers and Clients and the highly coveted referrals from Evangelists.
- Deaths can flow from any of the states as shown by the blue lines. In every ecosystem there is death and it must be filtered out so time is not wasted on futile events. In the body the liver filters the blood and eliminates the waste and this Road Map Marker represents that.
This chart represents a mature company and the size of each status helps us understand the scale of the sales opportunities. For example first contact is by far the most expensive conversion in the system. Depending on the company this can be 10x the cost of a referral or recurring order. However, without new customers flowing into the system the business will slowly die. Attrition or death within the system is unstoppable. In a startup almost all the orders are new business, which is what crushes their profitability compared to a mature company. Some sales forces make the mistake of over focusing on the more profitable sales and end up killing the business. A critical point that management must understand the scale of these stages. It is only with that understanding of scale can they bring order and balance to the business.