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It’s called catching the net colloquially, but in essence, any business small or large is continuously trying to fill the top of its sales funnel with high quality leads. Below is a brief grouping of tasks that should go into maintaining a healthy top of funnel.
1. Inbound marketing
The most obvious first. We all know how important it is to churn SEO-friendly content consistently on your public facing channels; be it blog, website, social media or other groups & forums. While it’s important to write quality content for your focus keywords, make sure you’re complimenting those by writing educational content too for your casual readers (think potential prospects and evangelists). It might also be a good idea to survey your subscribers once in a while about their topics of interest.
For a SaaS business particularly, this turns out to be the most effective way of staying on top of competition and making itself visible on search engines. For PromptCloud, more than 90% of our leads are from the inbound channel. What’s more? The effort continues to pay-off in the long term too while you focus on newer marketing activities.
As important as it is to create good content, equally important is it to promote it on the right channels because this is what eventually puts your business in front of the world. Work with a social media strategy that goes hand in hand with your domain; laying out the where, what and when. Pick one primary channel where most of your prospects hang out and ensure regular activity there. Given PromptCloud’s niche, we receive 50% of referral traffic from a single Q&A forum, despite being actively promoting content on other major social channels and forums. That apart, get listed on directories, engage in groups and leverage your network to outreach your follower base.
3. Affiliate Sales
Affiliate model is not a new concept and companies have been engaging with affiliates traditionally too. However, it becomes especially easy if you’re a SaaS solution, allowing an automated channel sales for your affiliates using an affiliate ID. There are many companies/individuals out there who’d be willing to sell your solution on your behalf in return for a cut. Think of them as an extension to your sales team, but with a better region specific reach. If you’re a globally relevant solution, try to find 1-2 affiliates in each of your target regions. They know the market much better than you do and speak local language. Sales is all about influencing.
You might also want to route the bigger deals through this channel given the acquisition efforts required and for better incentives to your affiliates.
Visualize your business’s ecosystem and figure which layer you operate in. Look for businesses operating in layers just above or below you and there, you have a partner. Often times, your clients would need additional services on top of what you already provide for an end-to-end solution. For instance, data analytics, visualization and intelligence are a layer above data acquisition, hence making good partners for PromptCloud’s data aggregation solutions. Partnerships are all about complimenting each other’s business needs and leveraging the other party’s solutions instead of trying to build everything inhouse. And while you do that, you have created an extremely qualified channel for leads to come into your funnel.
You could partner with multiple companies in order to expand your portfolio and contain your clients within the partner set, benefiting everyone in that set. This especially works well in an enterprise sales model warranting high touch sales.
It’s recommended to create a dedicated page for partnerships as it puts the word out about your business being open to such discussions. If you need some inspiration, feel free to take cues from our partnerships page here.
5. Building related products
If you have the time and resources, this might be good strategy to invest in. Building an off the shelf product, which gives a taste of your offerings, can go a long way in generating leads for your core solutions. It’s advisable to charge for this product (even if nominally) to create that value perception. If you really intend to have a free version, give away a freemium that’s perpetually free, and which helps gauge your product’s usefulness for those who can’t buy an enterprise version yet.
Although this might not be an immediate channel to catch the net, the leads might eventually trickle down through your funnel. Check out DataStock and JobsPikr which serve this purpose at PromptCloud.
6. Repurposing Old Leads
As mundane as it may sound, it’s easy to forget this tactic. To remind you, your CRM is a powerful resource for all your sales related activities and it’s important to leverage this database in times of lull. Stir around the leads who had said they’d reach out in a few months, the ones who never responded to your followups as well as the churned clients to see if any new requirements are on their radar.
Treat this as a sales activity as opposed to lead nurturing which marketing would already have taken up. Even 1% conversion rate from this effort is a big ROI, without having to invest in new lists and building relationships from scratch. Don’t be surprised when these leads immediately reach the middle or even bottom of your funnel.
I haven’t included prospecting and lead reachout in the above list, because that’s the primary approach for enterprise sales to fill their funnel. Remember that for growth, you need a good mix of both short-term and long-term marketing and sales activities, that can keep paying off for years to come.
Have other strategies that you use to fill your funnel? Feel free to write in comments.