For years now I have been running about the country promoting a marketing concept called “The Tunnel” in countless presentations. With the year end approaching, it is a perfect time for entrepreneurs to review processes in their companies in preparation for 2013. Your “Tunnel” is the lifeblood of your future revenue and should be checked.
What is your tunnel? – Your tunnel is a perspective of the experience a prospect has when they first are introduced to your company. When someone: clicks for more info on your Web Site, calls into your firm, or walks into your establishment what is the “managed” experience you want them to have? This is the critical stage of a buying decision. We promote considering the process as a prospect entering your tunnel where you have preplanned the experience from every perspective and will now control the follow-up to exceed their expectation! It is a tunnel when you channel them with timed information and, planned disciplined continuous contact thru various medium until they buy.
Step 1 – Take the journey! Have a friend or associate shop your company and document every experience they have. Have then log all follow-ups, share written communication with you. Get a road map of the existing experience your customers have.
Step 2 – Define expectation! Call recent new customers and prospects that have, and most importantly, those who did not purchase from you. Ask them to walk you through their experience and ask what they expected, liked, and did not like in terms of: follow-up, information flow, quality and speed.
Step 3 – Build your tunnel as a team! Pull together all resources on your team that touch customers before they buy. Review your findings of what you learned about what is happening and the expectations of your prospects. Then as a team flow chart out the experience you want to deliver. This should include: scripts, approved draft communications, required time lines for follow-up and individual accountabilities. Above all, build a system to monitor that process is continuous and that identifies when it is not happening.
SOME HINTS ON HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR TUNNEL
Scripts – Does your sales force, or whomever answers your phones, have approved scripts and protocols of questions to ask and info to share with standards. Standards should include deadlines for follow-up.
Approved Written Communication – Are draft letters, follow-up emails pre written and available to your team.
CRM System – Do you have a “Customer Relations Management System” where prospects are immediately logged in and accountability for follow-up assigned? Does every person capture the email address of each prospect and ask: “how did you hear about us” so you can measure advertising and promotion?”
Auto Responder – Does your web site have an auto responder that instantly sends an email to all new prospects who click for more info? A simple “we have your request and it’s on the way” message does wonders to eliminate the traditional web problem of people thinking their requests went into a black hole.
Drip Campaigns – Does your marketing process include and staged and pre written set of informational emails that help keep prospects from drifting out of your tunnel?
Map Out The Prospect/Customer Experience – As the year closes take the time to really understand the experience your prospects are living through. Never let their experience be an accident.
Build Your Tunnel!