How does client listening fit in with the new marketing funnel?

Many moons ago, when was I studying for my Chartered Institute of Marketing qualification, I was taught all about the marketing funnel and the ‘AIDA’ acronym derived from it. AIDA stood for ‘Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action’ and so described the stages a consumer goes through before purchasing a product or service.

What it didn’t cover is something that is now the cornerstone of my business namely, ‘What happens after action is taken – that is, following the purchase.’

In the ‘old’ days, customers were seen as an outcome, an end result that you had spent considerable time, money and energy pursuing. The old funnel was linear, stopping post-purchase and not taking into account the amount of work it takes to generate the opportunities that feed into it. In 2018, HubSpot bent the funnel into a flywheel, demonstrating the momentum that can be gained when you reconfigure your business around delivering a remarkable customer experience.

Based on an invention by James Watt (a flywheel is a wheel that’s energy-efficient) and a concept put forward by Jim Collins in his classic business book, ‘Good to Great’, HubSpot’s flywheel operates on the principle that your customers are your best salespeople and happy customers can be used to drive referrals and repeat sales.

This diagram from NatWest returns to the marketing funnel concept, adapting and extending it so that it makes a great partner to HubSpot’s ‘Marketing Flywheel’, and is another way of demonstrating how you can grow your business by harnessing the loyalty and advocacy of your current clients.

As this new funnel and the flywheel demonstrate, there’s a circularity to the sales process whereby new prospective customers or clients seek ‘social proof’ from current clients and are often introduced to new suppliers through recommendation or referrals from existing clients of a business.

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And what does this mean in relation to employing client listening?

Well, it means you need to be implementing mechanisms such as client listening to make sure you’re delivering not only on your product or service promise but also on providing a top-notch experience for your clients and developing a relationship with them. Doing so will breed loyalty and drive repeat purchases, and will, in time, create the environment for the advocacy that leads to those all-important referrals.

In a B2B setting where purchase timescales can be lengthy and costly, focusing on your current clients is a sound investment. Listening can help you get a handle on how much they understand your business and what you could be offering them: Are they needlessly engaging another supplier for a service you could provide? Why is that? Is it because your teams aren’t willing or able to have those conversations to find out what else they need? If so, you’re leaving money on the table and your client is expending more of their energy and  resources to needlessly find additional support.

When it comes to advocacy, using the NPS method in surveys and as part of qualitative interviews, can help you identify your advocates. If someone scores you a 9 or 10, and are classed as an NPS ‘promoter’, you now know definitively who to ask to act as a reference should you need one, or who you can ask to introduce you to their connections should a relevant opportunity arise.

Of course, you still need to promote your brand and generate interest from prospective new clients, but if that’s your only sales strategy, you’re missing out on the power of your current clients as a highly valuable and often more cost-effective approach.

I’d love to talk to you about how I’m helping other businesses grow through this concept, please do get in touch.

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