I’ve been thinking a lot about transitions lately. As Dictionary.com states, a transition is the movement or change from one position to another.
In my yoga practice, a teacher recently spent most of a class having us focus on strong, smooth transitions from one pose to another. These transitions can often be overlooked as we’re concentrating on nailing that next posture and choose momentum and chance to help us get there. However, the stronger our transitions, the better our overall practice will become.
Transitions in our marketing automation practice are just as important and can be prone to the same lack of focus as in yoga. Not that it’s intentional; we can just be so focused on reaching an overarching ROI or a specific lead goal that it’s easy to overlook how we handle a customer as she moves from one stage of the buying process to another.
To bring some focus to key transition areas of our marketing practice, I recommend these three steps to help raise the overall excellence of our programs and performance.
- Map out all key intersections in the buyer’s journey. To start, it’s a worthwhile exercise to whiteboard all the different ways a customer could enter and move through our buying funnel. In today’s digitally connected world, customers can flow through the funnel in many different ways. The goal here is to understand how messaging and follow-up can differ based on a particular buyer’s journey.
For example, an end goal may be to turn leads into qualified opportunities. To simplify, let’s say a qualified opportunity is when a lead is ready for a product demo. If a lead comes in through a content download and a sales person is directly following up to push a demo, there’s a good chance the lead will quickly be turned off. Instead, this type of lead may need to stay with the marketing team to be nurtured and handed over to sales when stronger buying signals are identified.
- Create service-level agreements. Once the stages of the buying process are outlined, we can now better identify where key transitions may happen with a customer. Service-level agreements (SLAs) are a great way to outline what should happen during transition times, including to whom the customer should be passed (i.e., handing off a lead from marketing to field sales, outbound sales to field sales, field sales to marketing, etc.). They should also include expectations on how the lead should be handled, from important timeframes to what key messaging should be used. Since leads are often handed from one group to another during transition stages, SLAs help ensure both parties are on the same page and understand expectations.
- Use technology to enforce accountability. SLAs are great in theory but can be even greater in practice when technology is used to help enforce accountability. Processes have a way of creating collaboration when they are first initiated and brainstormed. However, they can fizzle out over time as team members come and go and we get caught up in our day-to-day. By tying transition stages to rules in our marketing automation and CRM tools, we can create alerts letting marketing or sales know when a lead has moved from one stage to the next. And we can create reporting on how we’re performing against expectations. We’ll be able to see if leads are being followed up within a timely manner or more quickly identify if a particular hand-off stage seems to be poorly performing.
Let’s face it, transitions are everywhere in our lives and our marketing practices. Hopefully these three tips will help us focus a little bit more on the journey to our end goals!
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