The Business Side: Understanding the Survey Sales Funnel
Greetings, geospatialers! Is it OK if I call you geospatialers? Me again!
Ready for another installment of marketing genius to help you get your business booming? Great! Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
Last time, you may remember we talked about cutting through the noise by delivering focused campaigns and making your copy sparkle. I gave you some awesome people to follow — ones who really get this whole marketing malarkey and can teach you a thing or two.
The key thing to take on board here is that these peeps I’ve introduced you to understand how to tap into people’s emotional responses, which is crucial for that big picture, brand awareness stuff! By tapping into this, you start to build a following of people who feel connected to your stuff and keep dipping back into your brand. From there, it’s up to you to nurture that relationship until they end up becoming a customer.
Today, we’re going to look at what it really means to nurture a lead — to transform someone whose attention you’ve grabbed into an actual customer.
To do that, I’m going to take a step back and give you a real bird’s-eye view of the entire sales process, walking you through the four key phases to sales lead success.
Where Does It All Start?
Before sales comes marketing (of course!). As we’ve seen from my previous articles, marketing begins with strategy. You figure out who your customer is in order to focus your time and hard-earned cash on that target audience.
This also means that your marketing communications (MARCOM) funnel feeds straight into your sales funnel, forming the first stage in the process. Let me explain…
Top of Funnel
The top part of the sales funnel is the super time-consuming part. There are no shortcuts here; you have to do the legwork to iron out who you want to engage with, what you want them to do, and how to make them do it.
Because it’s so tricky to get right, it makes sense to work with a top quality marketing agency who really understands your sector. While they can do the donkey work for you, that doesn’t mean you can wash your hands of it all — you need to collaborate closely and keep supplying them with big picture stuff they can transform into compelling content and conversations. Believe me, this pays off when you start raking in the dosh!
The Sales Funnel
Right, let’s move on to get a picture of the whole sales funnel. The four stages, as we’ll see, are: Interest > Education > Opportunity > Sale
Let’s dig a little deeper to find out what each of these are all about.
Phase 1: Interest
Potential customers can’t buy from you if they’ve never heard of you, so to start with, you need to build awareness and start generating interest in what you do.
That doesn’t mean you have to rush out and start buying up expensive ad space. It can actually be far more effective — and easier on your budget — to start with the free platforms out there.
Here are a few of the most effective ones, which we are finding work for surveyors and geospatial professionals to get to grips with:
Instagram: Use this to showcase your awesome imagery, and capture the imaginations of other geeky surveyors, and of course, your target audience. Need some inspiration? These guys are killing it!
@lady_land_surveyor (Farrah Razo, Ariz.) posts some really great images of her work out in the field. What’s nice about her content is that she explains exactly what she’s up to, drawing you into the story, interacting with others, and making potential clients feel like they already know her. As you can see from her posts, she’s an awesome social seller, always building momentum in her field!
Another awesome social seller is
@slugsy100 (South Africa), who posts some really interesting pieces of content, and has built an awesome following of over 4,700 people to date. Nice!
@diverse_surveyors (Australia) showcases some very engaging imagery, tons of personality… and is even working on getting kids into surveying.
YouTube: When it comes to marketing, the great thing about working in the surveying profession is that you’re not sitting at a desk or trapped in a meeting room. You’re out in the field, doing the kind of practical stuff that looks visually fantastic and impressive. So make the most of it! Make cool videos! Get people engaged and excited about it! (And, by the way, you can share your photos at POB Point & Shoot.)
I mean, just look at this YouTube video, produced by Wanderlust Adventure Media for L.B Landman Surveying Services in South Africa. It has 35,000 views, tons of engagement, and is a lively, informative, awesome video you can’t help but watch until the end. If that’s not brand awareness, what is?
LinkedIn: Nailing LinkedIn is the holy grail for any business, because that’s where your most serious, professional audience lives… making it your best bet for sales leads. Here are six key tips:
- Customize your profile URL to make it easy for your target audience to remember and find you. For example, mine is @elaineballgeo.
- Share your exciting fieldwork. A picture tells 1,000 words and gets you noticed amid a sea of text.
- Interact and invite others to take part in posts and discussions.
- “Like” other people’s posts — especially when it comes to existing and potential new clients!
- Build a following of potential clients. I use the 80:20 rule as a guide, meaning I aim to make 80 percent of my contacts target audience and the other 20 percent friends, colleagues and acquaintances.
- Get recommendations from your clients.
Okay, so those are the main platforms to focus on, but what kinds of strategies should you use to build awareness overall? Let’s explore some tried-and-tested approaches.
Drip Feed/Drip Campaign: Drip feeds, or drip campaigns, are when you send out information on a regular, timely basis, which keeps your brand visible and memorable for clients.
You can have all types of drip campaigns: top-of-mind drips, educational drips, promotional drips, competition drips, etc. The drip approach works very well. The important thing is that you serve up valuable content that your audience will eat for breakfast!
This sounds like a lot of work, but you can actually automate this stuff through tools like Hootsuite or Buffer. Both are very effective platforms that allow you to schedule a bunch of stuff in one go. If you have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, you should also have automated emailing facilities like SalesForce Pardot — otherwise, you can use independent tools like MailChimp or DotMailer.
Networking Online or “Social Selling”: Have you ever wondered why some people on LinkedIn have a ton of people starting conversations with them all the time? Or why their brand always pops up in your home thread when you sign into LinkedIn? Well, these people are mega networkers…and you can be too! Let’s take a look at some examples:
Fin Cormack. Cormack is a land and engineering surveyor at FC Geomatics in England. He has networking down to a fine art — you’ll notice he has an impressive following of 2,448 followers on his activity page!
This is because he interacts with people, constantly talking to and replying to his audience. He’s a mega networker! Interacting with other surveyors, showcasing his skill sets, building trust and reputation, and leading discussions means he has established himself as a thought leader and can impress potential clients without pushing his services on them. If he’s really smart and ensures he has lots of contacts in the “potential clients” category, that’s a lot of free advertising.
#GetKidsintoSurvey: As some of you are aware, I recently launched the #GetKidsintoSurvey campaign. Initially, this was for the local survey association, but it’s now gone viral with a global presence.
The campaign is all about promoting the industry from a child’s point of view, which in turn has captured the hearts of all ages around the world. I have people integrated into the campaign so that they feel they are a part of it, which is very important for me and for the campaign to work. My goal is to build a strong community, use my marketing skills to get our industry noticed, and get kids excited about this area!
Here’s the thing: I launched the campaign out of genuine passion for the goal, and I’m so excited that it’s making waves. But the secondary benefit of the campaign is that potential clients have seen my passion and seen me prove that I know how to get a campaign to fly. That has strengthened my reputation in the industry and started conversations that will likely lead to sales.
So this is the message I want you to take away from this: How can you best show off your skills, expertise and passion for what you do? How can you turn that into a coherent campaign that grabs the attention of the people you really want to impress? As you scroll through LinkedIn, Instagram, etc., pay attention to what’s getting them noticed and start to think creatively about showcasing your own business.
Phase 2: Education
By now, you’ve caught people’s attention with your sexy YouTube videos and Instagram posts. Next, you need to sort the wheat from the chaff.
As your audience starts to recognize you and appreciate what you do, you need to take it to the next level by providing them with informative content that really educates them on the role you can play in their success. This not only gets people thinking about working with you, but it also helps weed out the sections of your audience that aren’t valuable to you in the long run. Remember: you want hot leads, not time wasters!
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Pop-Up Sign-Up Forms: Yes, I know these can be annoying, but get them right and they are oh-so effective. After reading SUMO research on how well they work on websites, I tried them for myself… and guess what? I now get 5x more sign-ups per week than I did before! Try it!
Valuable Blog Posts: This means creating interesting, informative, educational content that answers questions your target clients are grappling with. A top example of a company that consistently nails this is Hogan Land Services in California, who use an “open question blog” format. Here are some topics they’ve covered, with great success:
- How To Use a Topographic Survey for Utility Design
- How Drones Have Changed Aerial Photography and What it Means for Land Surveying
- A Guide to Boundary Surveys and Factors that Affect the Cost
These all offer excellent, focused, and juicy content for Hogan’s target audience to devour. They look good, they’re written well, and they truly educate their audience.
The Power of FAQs: Open questions spark discussion and learning, and they get people thinking about issues that they might be vaguely aware of, but hadn’t considered in depth. By doing so, you also: a) demonstrate your deep knowledge of the sector, and b) steer the conversation around to the way you handle things, positioning yourself as the ideal vendor or partner.
Again, Hogan Land Services has an FAQ page showcasing some of the regular questions they get asked. This is not just an FAQ… It’s also a magnet for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), giving you a chance to add a bunch of keywords to your site in a non-obtrusive way and attracting Google spiders to your site.
White Papers: White papers are an excellent way to demonstrate your in depth knowledge and expertise, as well as show off case studies of your proudest projects! Publish a couple of white papers that really get into the finer details of how you solve particular problems in your industry and give them away for free… but make sure you gate that valuable content (more on this below).
Capturing Leads: In order to nurture relationships with your audience further, you need to know who they are and how to contact them. That means capturing leads, which you can do by gating content.
Gated content is when you make people enter their details or sign up in order to access or download a piece of content, whether that’s a white paper, a webinar, or anything else. This is a hugely effective way to capture quality leads because only people who are really interested in the subject area will bother to sign up / hand over their contact information, which means they will more than likely be potential clients.
Phase 3: Opportunity
By now, you have engaged with your audience, attracted them to your website, and began to educate them on what you do and why you’re the best fit to fix their problem. They have signed up for a webinar or given you their details in exchange for gated content. Now you need to nurture those leads. Here are five key things you must do next:
- Pick up the phone and find out what their needs and pain points are. Get context and understanding about their business, and find out how much they know about you.
- Ask open questions, really listen, and summarize this back to them to clarify your interpretation of what you’ve heard and to show that you understand exactly what they need. This is very important, so that they know you’re on the same page!
- Only now can you start to sell your services to them! Do it before and you’ll annoy them. By this point, you’re an ally, not a cold caller.
- If you hear any objections, go back to the open questions and dig a little deeper.
- Remember, you are there to solve their problems! Make it easy for them, respond to information they give you, and don’t push anything they don’t want or need.
Phase 4: Sale
Closing a sale can be hard, but if you’ve done your homework, made sure you are responding to your client’s individual needs, and have crossed all the t’s and dotted the i’s, you should be good to go!
Remember, once you have the sale in the bag, it’s up to you to make sure you continue to work with them in the best possible way. Good service is crucial and impacts heavily on ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing and brand strength. What’s more, if your clients love you and what you do, you may even be able to use them in future content, which helps you to advertise and attract even more customers!
Take the point cloud processing software specialist, TopoDOT. Thanks to their awesome service, the company was able to get happy customers to take part in a series of client testimonial interviews — including a particularly glowing one from Ryan Kuhn, surveying and mapping specialist at FDOT, who explained how nervous he was about investing in the software and how TopoDOT exceeded expectations.
There’s no better marketing than a happy client! So whatever you do, make sure you don’t drop the ball once you’ve confirmed the client.
Let’s sum up how to keep your sales pipeline in top-notch condition:
- Start by really engaging people, building on your social selling techniques.
- Check out great campaigns and draw inspiration from these fabulous ideas for your own marketing campaigns that show your passion and expertise.
- Work across different mediums to capture each prospect at different points in the sales funnel.
- Educate your audience to reinforce positive perceptions and establish yourself as a great potential partner.
- Make lead collection easy for yourself with gated content.
- Build a relationship with your prospects by getting on the phone and really listening to them.
- Continue to support your client 100 percent once you’ve closed the sale.
Phew! Nobody said this stuff was easy, but if you nail these steps, your business will soar.