The first big reveal in HubSpot’s Ultimate Guide to Marketing Trends in 2018, is the news that the flywheel is replacing the funnel.
It’s no great surprise, really. The funnel/pipeline were too linear. From a marketing perspective, all the focus was going on the top of the funnel, meaning leads weren’t being properly nurtured and active prospects - those still in the decision-making process - were being almost entirely left to sales. Opportunities were lost in this clumsy hand-off between departments, and while sales and marketing alignment was taking up a lot of column inches, it didn’t feel like a realistic prospect while the two departments felt themselves to be handling two different stages of the customer journey.The flywheel model puts customers at the centre of the business, with marketing, sales and customer success whirling around them and (presumably) tending to their every need. Sales and marketing alignment is still a major priority, but the end goal is to align the entire business around the customer journey. So how exactly is that going to work? Let’s take a look.
Marketing has traditionally been entirely responsible for capturing leads with a variety of activities designed to build brand awareness and draw customers in. Traditional advertising, social media, PR - it was always about attracting customers’ attention and securing qualified leads to pass on to sales.
The internet and social media has kicked tradition to the kerb and now we have not one, not two but three main bodies all capable of attracting new customers to the business. Marketing continues to do its thing, but it is now joined in this endeavour by two other important faculties.
- Thanks to social media and social selling, salespeople can also entice new prospects in, whether that be with insightful thought leadership pieces or by engaging with groups and adding value to conversations.
- Happy customers form an important part of the ‘attract’ stage by sharing their positive experiences with their friends and followers.
In a linear model, any misalignment between sales and marketing tends to create a bottleneck around this stage. Maybe marketing thinks their work is done or sales thinks the leads they’ve been presented aren’t ready yet. In any case, this is where opportunities are lost.
In the flywheel, both marketing and sales are engaged in empowering the potential customer by providing resources and valuable insight that help the prospect see how your offering fits with their need. And once again, happy customers can be part of this process by sharing their stories and transformations for use in sales collateral.
Marketing may previously have had no part in this stage of the customer journey, but even at the close content has a part to play. Salespeople shouldn’t be left to prove the value of their offering without backup from marketing, who can provide both resources to help customers confirm that they are making the best choice, as well as competitor and market insight.
Customer success, meanwhile, can step in at this stage to provide references, testimonials and even set up calls between prospective and existing customers.
In order to keep the flywheel spinning, the happiness of existing customers must be an ongoing priority. Marketing should continue to provide content for Customer Success to pass on to these customers. This could range from guidance on how best to use the product/service, to inspirational pieces on how others are using it, to other customer success stories, and so on. There is a direct correlation between the success your customers have with your product/service and your organization’s success, so keeping them happy and creating a community feel among your product/service users is imperative.
Sales’ role in this is to maintain friendly relationships with customers - after all, there’s a good chance they will be your customers again some day! - and also to ensure that their expectations are met. (Which means both establishing realistic expectations during the buying process and checking in afterwards to ensure they are satisfied.)
And of course, customer success is also responsible for the day-to-day handling of customer enquiries and generally being delightful, to ensure that those happy customers are motivated to shout about their experiences.
A tip for iPresent users
Yes, we’re a Sales Enablement Platform, but there’s nothing to prevent you also equipping your Customer Success people with iPresent. That way, you can be sure they know where the resources are, what they have to choose from and Marketing can track content use and feedback to see what’s proving most helpful. Your existing CRM integration will also ensure that when the customer does come to make another purchase, Sales is up to speed with previous customer interactions.
Basically any time you want your people to share marketing-approved content with customers, whether that’s face to face or online, you can use iPresent.