Predictive Analytics and the Sales Funnel: Engage Your Customer at Every Stage

September 05, 2017

Is the sales funnel dead?  According to Forrester, “The funnel gets well-deserved celebrity for helping B2B marketers communicate the relevance of marketing activities to revenue goals. But as a construct for a transformational lead-to-revenue initiative, the funnel falls short. Today’s funnel requires a mind shift from volume-oriented demand generation to customer engagement across the buying journey”.

Get new customers faster

So how do you shift the way you look at the funnel?  It’s all being driven by predictive analytics, and the intelligence you can access from constantly streaming intent data.  Think of the way the funnel used to be filled.  A potential customer had to raise his or her hand – attend an event, click on an email, download a white paper, or take a sales call before you knew, with a level of certainty, that this prospect was interested in your solution.  Only then was the prospect added to the sales funnel. This took a lot of time, created lots of headaches, and wasted a lot of money.

Fast forward to today.  An organization using predictive analytics is able to identify accounts that are most interested in its services or solutions, before it actually engages with those accounts.  Predictive analytics gives you insight into what a particular buying center, at a particular physical location, is researching, and identifies the buyer personas at each of the locations you want to target. Because you know what your prospects are interested in, you know exactly what messages will have the most impact, and which tactics will be the most effective.  This gives you a huge advantage over your competition.

Because, despite how much technology has changed the funnel and the B2B buying cycle, the first vendor in front of the customer still wins the majority of the deals.  The race to identify sales opportunities as early as possible has never been more intense, and the need for predictive analytics has never been greater.

Maximize your existing customers

One thing we know for certain is that it’s much easier to grow an existing customer than to acquire a new one.  It’s a much more efficient way to manager your business.  By keeping track of the research your customers are doing, you’ll be able to drive cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

Once a prospect has become a customer, use predictive analytics to apply a new set of keywords that are associated with the additional services and solutions you want to sell.  Maintain focus on the buying intent being shown by a specific buying center at a specific location to determine when and where a cross-sell marketing message should be delivered.

Identify ‘at risk’ customers

When your customer reaches a critical stage in their lifecycle, such as a contract renewal, you’ll want to monitor their activities to see whether they’re researching your competitors’.  This insight enables sales to have immediate, proactive conversations with customers, and gives marketing the insight they need to deliver the appropriate assets, helping to ensure the customer is retained.

The key take-away here is that accounts aren’t static.  As your customers move through the funnel, their research and engagement patterns change.  You have to change your engagement strategy to align with them.  So when you think about how you can use predictive analytics, think about its application and value across the entire customer lifecycle.

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