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A little of the right content goes a long way toward converting a new customer — especially as you get near the bottom of the sales funnel.

I was reminded of this truism recently while researching contractors to perform tree work around my home. A few too many years of growth, nature’s whim and weather wear-and-tear had left my wife and I with a handful of trees in need of either removal or grooming.

The city where I live publishes a list of licensed tree contractors. Plus, I consulted a few neighbors for referrals. Based on preliminary research, I called three contractors.

At this point I’m deep in the funnel. My trees need work. I’ve gone to the trouble of contacting a service provider and asking for an estimate. I’ve spent 30 minutes or more touring the yard, talking through the needs of each tree, asking when the work can be done.

Yet in each case, I was struck by how casual, to the point of lackadaisical, these service providers were about the project scoping and estimating process.

  • No. 1 arrived on a motorcycle, a quote sheet folded in his pocket. I loaned him a pen and a clipboard with which to jot down the work scope and estimate.
  • No. 2 scrawled his estimate across a price sheet, neglecting to use any of the preprinted lines and boxes for labelling the trees to be worked on or entering rate amounts.
  • No. 3 offered me a brochure, which seemed like progress. Then he proceeded to scribble his scope and estimate in the brochure’s narrow margins.

Missing in Action: Bottom of the Sales Funnel Content

I was willing to overlook a few rough edges. After all, these guys are hustling to do estimates in the evenings after long days working hard on current projects. We’re standing out in a breezy back yard, not sitting comfortably across a desk in an air-conditioned office. Theirs is a blue-collar business built more on technical know-how and physical capability than formalities.

But where the sales process truly fell apart, in each case, was when I requested what seemed to me was the barest minimum of content. Content that would give me confidence in them and their ability to perform the work. Content that would help me differentiate one from the other.

  • Their contractor license number
  • Proof of insurance
  • Names and contact information for 2 or 3 customers they’d worked for in the past

Mind you, I wasn’t expecting to get this info on the spot, in a die-cut folder overflowing with four-color sell sheets and glowing testimonials. I was willing to receive it as a follow-up via phone or e-mail. None of the contractors has a website, so directing me online was not an option. Still, if they’d had a typewritten sheet of paper back in the truck (or the motorcycle saddle bags), that would have been fine.

Each contractor made a point of saying he’d been in business locally for decades. But you’d have sworn I was asking for content no prospect had requested before. 

No. 1, the motorcyclist, said he’d follow up with the info but never did. A few unanswered calls leaves me wondering if he is currently licensed and insured. Though I was most impressed with his tree-side manner, he won’t be getting the business.

No. 2 hasn’t responded, but I’m still following up because at least his wife returned my call while he was away on vacation. No. 3 hasn’t called or e-mailed since. Meanwhile, his tri-fold brochure, while speaking to his longevity in business, lacks the information (and assurance) that I’m seeking.

Suffice to say, if any of these three businesses had provided me with the content I wanted, when I was seeking it, they would have had me as a customer. Makes you wonder how many more years they’ll go in business without putting together a simple content asset that will answer the questions I asked, and thus position them for greater success at the bottom of the sales funnel.

Is Your Content Ready to Convert?

Granted, these are local contractors, not mid-size or large corporations. No doubt your company’s resources and commitment to deliver bottom of the sales funnel content about your brand, products, services and people is far advanced from these small — micro, really — businesses.

Or is it?

  • Does the standard brochure and presentation you’ve been relying on for years answer the questions today’s prospective customers are asking as they’re about to make a purchasing decision?
  • When was the last time you systematically surveyed your sales force to learn what might help them close more deals as prospects get down to the wire, ready to decide among vendors and price quotes?
  • Better yet, when was the last time you interviewed customers and prospective customers, to better understand their decision-making concerns and criteria, and then crafted deep-funnel content to address those questions? 

We marketers spend lots of time, energy and resources trying to get more opportunities into the top of our funnels.

Which makes you wonder if we’re focusing enough on the other end, close to the funnel’s bottom.

Where a little of the right content can go a long, long way.
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This post, originally published on Hanley Wood Marketing’s Content Is Marketing blog, is cross-posted here for subscribers to Touch Point City. For more marketing ideas and insights from my colleagues at HWM, subscribe to Content Is Marketing.

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