What Does Customer-Centric AI Look Like?

Source: https://postfunnel.com/what-does-customer-centric-ai-look-like/

Customer-centric principles and AI are both a part of marketing’s future. How might they work together?

When it comes to marketing’s future, two things are clear:

  1. Customer-centric principles are increasingly important to maximize the relevance of a business.
  2. Technologies like AI, machine learning, and various automated processes are giving businesses a competitive edge.

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Depending on your perspective, these two developments might seem at odds. How can a business abide by customer-centric principles if its services can be conducted without human intervention? Yet these principles aren’t as opposed as you might think. As customer-centric AI solutions emerge, it’s clear that, together, these ideas could expand the scope of interactions with consumers.

What does customer-centric AI accomplish?

Before we dive into AI capabilities, it’s worth considering what customer-centric AI actually accomplishes. By and large, these solutions augment a company’s customer engagement capabilities, allowing them to deploy individualized experiences at scale without any manual programming or logic building.

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Why is this important? While any company — large or small — can offer high-quality customer service, deploying personalized interactivity at scale is a unique challenge. For example, businesses may not have the resources to individually respond to messages in a timely manner (especially when customers rely increasingly on quick social media posts). Customer-centric AI addresses this problem by automatically responding to common inquiries and determining the market group to which a given customer belongs. In the future, customer-centric AI could even contact customers preemptively to address them at any point in the buyer’s journey. This could include offering relevant products or highlighting services that address their interests.

While customer-centric AI has yet to be fully explored, many businesses are enthusiastic about its potential. For example, one survey found that 87% of retailers believe AI can improve customer services. The same report suggested that 59.4% of retailers would adopt AI as is a money-saving tool, while 47.8% would use it to enhance customer lifetime value.

Automated trading is a possible model for customer-based AI

Customer-centric AI, as described above, is still a relatively new concept, though comparable AI systems do exist today. Of these, automated algorithmic trading offers the likeliest model for how customer-centric AI could operate in the future. For years, these algorithms have allowed prominent financial traders to take part in high-frequency trading — automated processes that trade and manage entire portfolios of stocks. These algorithms are not intended to replace human traders. Rather, they are built to maximize profits on opportunities that would vanish in the seconds it takes for humans to make a decision.

 

AI-based trading typically functions by taking the combined parts of a large trade and breaking them down into smaller lots. This allows each smaller lot to be executed for the right price over time while mitigating the risks of a single mass trade. While humans traders still assign the conditions that initiate a given trade, the actual execution is implemented by algorithms once such conditions are met. Trading data can also be used to predict future opportunities or risks, informing traders of ideal strategies.

 

Despite these benefits, AI trading has drawbacks. These high-frequency trading algorithms don’t often fail but, when they do, the consequences are severe. One prime example is 2010’s “Flash Crash” when mutual fund house Waddell & Reed sold $4.1 billion futures contracts, drawing liquidity from the market until the Dow Jones Industrial Average collapsed by 9%. More importantly, algorithms that do function as intended don’t always enhance performance. Take the Eurekahedge AI Hedge Fund Index that used machine learning techniques to grow by 8.3% between 2014 and 2019 — which was below the 10.9% rise of the overall S&P 500 Index.

 

That doesn’t mean automated trading models don’t have value. What they lack in performance, they often make up in terms of scale: They can execute a higher volume of decisions with increased complexity. This allows for lower trade costs, higher probabilities of trade execution, and increased market liquidity. These benefits have encouraged traders to continue pursuing AI-based algorithm solutions — provided that humans offer oversight and crucial data interpretation.

From this implementation, we can see how automated solutions could lend themselves to customer services:

  • Customer-centric AI would function by treating customer service as a series of smaller-scale interactions instead of a larger, difficult-to-classify experience.
  • Customer-centric AI won’t be perfect, nor will it always have higher performance than human-based interactions. That being said, it will make it easier to manage customer experiences at scale, allowing a baseline level of quality for common inquiries.
  • Customer-centric AI would still be managed and programmed by humans, but manage the execution for a wide range of standardized interactions.

Capabilities that make customer-centric AI possible

For all the technological benefits and futuristic imagery the phrase implies, no AI — customer-centric or otherwise — is going to develop itself. Any business looking to implement automated solutions must ensure several features are in place in order to manage its development properly.

When it comes to customer-centric AI, the following elements are particularly important:

Data

You could have the most advanced, customer-friendly AI platform in the entire universe, and it wouldn’t help you without reliable data. As we’ve previously discussed, machine learning is essentially a pattern recognition system. When you feed it comprehensive volumes of reliable data, it generates relatively accurate insights. If you don’t have enough data — or even worse, have lots of bad data — your automated solution won’t go anywhere fast.

For a customer-centric business, AI solutions must be equipped with accurate consumer data. This data could include anything, from basic demographics to buying habits, but it will generally reflect the background of your selected market. Everyday customer interactions, such as emails, tweets, or service calls, will likely be the most important data sources. As it stands, most customer-centric businesses that collect this data usually delete it shortly thereafter. When implementing a machine learning platform, it will be crucial to collect interaction data and aggregate it in a database for long-term reference.

Conversational technologies

Going beyond data, future customer-centric AI solutions will likely include some kind of conversational element. This could include a messenger chatbot or a voice-recognition feature, such as Alexa or Siri. Whatever the method, these conversational interfaces must be customer-facing so that consumers can directly interact with them. This will unlock scale, from an operational perspective, and benefit from your communications platform as a whole.

Even with technological advances on the horizon, AI bots may not be equipped to analyze all customer interactions without restriction. Such a sweeping integration is a monumental task could limit the efficacy of individual interactions. For the short-term, customer-centric AI should be focused and strategic. For example, a business could map common customer inquiries to the most frequent resolutions to offset the workload for its service team. Once a common response resolves these inquiries, human representatives can focus on unique and more specialized tasks.

Technological developments such as these are always exciting, but for businesses, investments must also be practical. Customer-centric AI has the potential to make a measurable impact on a business’s bottom line by increasing operational efficiency and unlocking scale. These solutions could even be implemented gradually, as customer-centric insights emerge, and work alongside existing customer service protocols. In the coming years, we can expect customer-centric AI to become as widely available as any automated solution in use today. In the meantime, businesses may consider investing in scalable data infrastructures, so they can take advantage of these solutions as they emerge.

The post What Does Customer-Centric AI Look Like? appeared first on Post Funnel.

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Growth Report September 2019: Growing Revenue By 20%

Source: https://www.autogrow.co/september-2019-growth-report/

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is no effort without error and shortcomings” – Theodore Roosevelt.  

You may have heard (or read) that part of the speech given by Theodore Roosevelt at least once in your life. Or perhaps you read it on “Productize & RELAX”?—the ebook Matt wrote about how to productize your business and exit the client roller coaster.

I remember editing that ebook in May while getting ready to relaunch AutoGrow’s productized Done-For-You service.

A lot of people were requesting to sign up for the service and to join the waitlist. 

And fast forward 5 months, Roosevelt’s quote truly reflects what September has been like for AutoGrow…

Hard work (mainly)… but also a lot of enjoyment—our company’s 3rd core value =) …

A team that’s only getting stronger and more solid as we keep getting the right people in the right roles… but also several people that had to be removed for not reaching the bar… 

One client who left… but came back to us with the wrong expectations…

And a LOT of money coming in… just shy of $23,887!

I think it’s pretty great how we’ve been consistently growing, yet I’m not ready to predict the future because it’s a tough business model to scale this fast. 

In this month’s growth report, I’ll tell you more about some of the challenges we’ve faced as a team and how we’re already overcoming them.

And I’ll tell you some interesting lessons learned and big wins that I’m sure you’ll relate to.

So let’s go!

 

CROSSING THE $23,000 MARK

Like a runner at the end of a race trying to get to the finish line, when we relaunched our Done-For-You sales funnel service, crossing the $20k mark seemed tough but not impossible. And today we proudly share our numbers—$23,887 (we grew revenue by 20.16%) just for September.

Not bad, right?

$20,000 in monthly recurring revenue—with 11 active team members (1 on a trial basis) and 11 active clients accounts that we’ve been retaining since the beginning of the service, plus 3 new ones that recently started.

At AutoGrow, we know nothing about getting tired, because “he who gets tired loses.” 

And that’s the opposite of the destination we’re headed for—keep building a scalable service to help busy business owners like you plan, create, and optimize your sales funnels on an ongoing basis. 

Also, we are getting ready to launch our own app, which will let our clients request On-Demand any funnel tasks they want to be done. 

Want a landing page? Click a button.

Want to create a lead magnet? Click a button.

Email copy? Click a button.

Ad campaign? Click a button.

All that and more, our app will do for you.

I know we’ve been saying that we’ll launch it soon but we are finalizing just a few small tweaks (like adding some new features) as we speak. 

DRIVING FACTORS IN SEPTEMBER’S GROWTH

Matt’s obsession with finding where the bottlenecks in the company are has been a critical factor for growth.

Always tracking those possible bottlenecks has led him to quickly identify if there is a problem in, for instance, the hiring process, or maybe on the acquisition side. It has let us improve the sales process and help our clients make more money and get more leads.

It even led the company to rent AutoGrow’s first office in New York!

However, detecting those bottlenecks on time has also helped us pre-qualify clients and determine if they are a fit or not early in the process. This has saved us a LOT of time. 

The ones who are a fit, we try to move them to the next step. For instance, if a potential client during our consultation is willing to buy our service that same day, the process goes smoothly and we start working together right away. All that while the client doesn’t lift a finger.

But achieving all those things in one month hasn’t been easy. 

Every time you have a problem, you go to someone for help or advice, don’t you?

Whether it’s a friend, a coach, a boss, you always go to someone.

As a team, we support each other. If we have a question, there’s someone there with the answer. But sometimes those answers and “mentors” are not that easy to find.

So, where does Matt go or ask for help when he’s unsure of what direction the company should go?

He stays motivated by starting the day (or at least he does this at some point of the day) listening to any of Mixergy’s interviews, a podcast network dedicated to entrepreneurship. 

His practices have actually made the team stronger and the company more solid. And that means happier clients too.

We’ve earned some new testimonials in the past weeks…

“I’ve been struggling with building an automated lead gen sales funnel for my WordPress agency for a long time and tried pretty much everything from every guru out there. None of it worked. But with Matt that changed. He’s a superstar b2b lead generation sales funnels guy. He built the exact blueprint of funnel for my business from ads to sale and everything in between. Exactly what I needed for so long. I would highly recommend him if you want a sales funnel built for your B2B business.

Ram Shengale, Founder of FantasTech Solutions

And all that thanks to hard work, solid systems, uncompromising discipline, and high-quality work.

Matt has programmed his brain to think in a competitive mindset. That has definitely inspired team members to be more competent and diligent. 

And seeing where other successful companies are at has pushed Matt to pick the best tactics, insights, and perspective for AutoGrow. Also, his relentless focus on not being satisfied with where we are at has been a critical factor in the growth of the company and the team.

Because when you are never satisfied, you’re always striving for something better. And that’s exactly what the team has been doing. Reaching ALWAYS for the bar because quality always wins.

Setting up achievable goals in the short term has also been part of why we’ve been growing so fast. We are heading to 23 clients, and by that point, we’ll be generating half a million in ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue). 

We hope the team keeps growing. In fact, it’s most likely we’ll be hiring two people for each team role. 

Sure, some people may not work out in the long-term. In fact, that happened in the past weeks where we had to let go of a team member for not reaching—or simply not wanting—to reach for the high standards of our work. 

But, as it turns out, saying “the bar is up here” actually makes the best people stay, and it works (almost) automatically to remove the people who aren’t performing well. 

So anyway, we’re expecting to have two team members for each role. But it will depend of course on how much work 23 clients will bring to our plates.

We’ll do everything except sacrifice quality for our clients. 

LESSONS LEARNED AND BIG WINS

So one lesson we learned this past month was to hire the right people when necessary. And we talked a bit about this in August’s growth report.

In September, our biggest bottleneck was our hiring funnel.

We started getting busier as the workload increased.

Things started getting a bit hectic because we only had one Project Manager to handle the management of the team. 

So we started trying new things to overcome those problems. We started posting jobs regularly on free and paid websites to look for new hires. And lots of applicants started applying to work with us. 

Something else that helped us overcome our own bottleneck was to add “We’re Hiring” (which we still are by the way) in our navigation and footer. The Law of Visibility there helped us attract more applicants. And also, we actually got ranked higher in Google search for SEO purposes.

We actually look at every visitor of our website as a potential hire, fan, customer, or client. And there’s no reason why we cannot convert a ridiculous percentage of our traffic into one of those in the long run.

We had to go through 100 applicants to find the right ones for the roles. 

We actually hired 4 new people (Project Manager, Funnel Strategist, Web Developer, and a Designer that has been working with AutoGrow on and off for almost 10 years). We’ll see how that goes. 

In 2017, our standards weren’t the same as today. We weren’t that good at qualifying clients because the process wasn’t so well-ironed out like now, and we weren’t that good either at hiring great people. And that’s totally an improvement! 

Looking forward to seeing what it’s going to be like in the near future. We are aiming to grow 20% each month but without sacrificing the quality of course. 

And I think that’s a huge attraction for clients—the quality of our work.

There was actually one client who ended the work with us a couple of months ago. This happened because his company was going through some internal changes. But as soon as the new CEO stepped into the role, they came back to us and continue the work with AutoGrow to this day.

That was not a very pleasant situation since the new CEO had the wrong expectations about our service and started demanding things that didn’t fit AutoGrow’s model.

But with transparent communication, we set the right expectations for him.

Another big win for this month was that we relaunched our new homepage and started seeing some leads.

We’ve been sending newsletters again two times a week. And posting content regularly has increased our traffic significantly.

We need to keep growing like this in order to be a strong organization and so the company is not all dependent on one job position.

We also learned this month that wasting time is a waste of time. 

We are now better prepared to filter bad leads before even getting on the phone with them. And we now know when to say NO to a client who isn’t a fit. We simply cut to the chase…

Are you the decision-maker?… 

Are you able and ready to decide today to move to the next step if we agree your business is a fit for our service?… 

Do you have an ad budget?…

I mean, I get why people would want to insist on working with AutoGrow even though they aren’t a fit for our Done-For-You service

First, our pricing is very affordable compared to agency options. We don’t really consider these agencies direct competition because if a client knows about us vs. a $50,000 or $30,000 payment for an agency—they are going to choose us

It’s a much better value. Businesses are slowly waking up to the idea that if you want results and to work with someone who has incentives that are better aligned with your success (and ongoing success)—then the traditional agency model is BROKEN. 

And that’s the opportunity AutoGrow is capitalizing on. We work hard, we care more, incentives are better aligned so that our goal isn’t just to GET a client, but to keep a client.

And the second reason why people insist on working with us is because we literally do everything for them. And with our soon-to-launch app, the experience will be even better!

In the month ahead, we want to get our calendars FULLY booked out with client appointments, see the launch of the new homepage keep on converting, and actually start using the AutoGrow app ASAP.

CONCLUSION 

Looking ahead to the next month. 

Our goal is to finally launch the app and integrate it into our workflow and break $30K in revenue for October. We’ll see what happens…

We’re launching our clients’ funnels within 20 days, so I look forward to sharing more results about that pretty soon. They’ve already started seeing some leads coming in…

Other priorities for this month include hiring a Project Manager and a Designer. We’ll keep improving our hiring funnel but we’ll also keep saying NO to bad candidates.

We also want to keep delegating the work so the business doesn’t depend on just one person.

It has been a tough month with lots of lessons learned. Looking forward to sharing October’s growth report so wake me up when September ends. Ok, it’s already over, never mind!

That’s it for this month’s update.

Leave a comment below and let me know what you got from this growth report that was most beneficial.

Keep funnelin’, stay focused.

Mariana

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“Marketers must see the customer’s point of view before doing anything else”

Source: https://postfunnel.com/marketers-must-see-the-customers-point-of-view-before-doing-anything-else/

Mireille Muscat is one of many talented women sitting in senior management positions at Malta-based telecommunications company, Melita. From entering the automobile industry as a minority to becoming Melita’s Head of Marketing, Mireille knows a thing or two about the importance of connectivity. In our latest Powwow, she shares her thoughts, lessons, and insights into how she runs her team.

Check our latest Powwow interviews and many more special features here.

You began your career as a design researcher in the automobile industry and now you run a marketing department. Can you tell us about which experiences in your personal and professional career prepared you for your role at Melita?

I started out as an engineer completing my graduate studies in Germany; working in a male-dominated environment was one challenge that, I believe, prepared me for taking on senior roles in the telecommunications industry. Having said, I’m proud to work for Melita, where 40% of our senior management team is female.

Ultimately, living and working abroad in unfamiliar environments helped me to face many uncertain and dynamic situations, which occur frequently in the marketing and telecom industries.

I noticed Melita’s ethos centers on values such as connectivity and flexibility. How do you use these tenets in your marketing messaging and how do you ensure that you’re leading your team using some of these values?

Our main messages center around making sure people understand that we are a quality connectivity service provider that’s constantly inspired and fueled by the needs of our customers—that’s where the flexibility comes into play.

In terms of how I lead my team and how I make sure we’re utilizing the value of connectivity, it’s about communication; communicating the plans, the strategies, the innovations that we’re doing in the company, etc. We share a sense of pride for constantly investing in developing technology, and that also inspires the team to come up with new ideas, both in terms of products and in how we engage people.

So then speaking of engagement, can you tell us a bit about your marketing funnel? How exactly do you get those at the top to make their way down, and which stages within the funnel are most important for you?

In the past, we focused a lot on the bottom of the funnel: clearly communicating our unique selling positions to direct people to buy, giving offers, really focusing on sales. The logic behind this bottom-of-funnel approach was that in Malta, our brand has a long history, people know Melita, so we had less of a  need to make people aware of what Melita is. Since we primarily pushed for sales, the customer experience was really pushed aside and that affected our brand perception. So we had to start from scratch, working from the top of the funnel, regaining the trust of those who used to be our customers in the past and had a bad experience.

It sounds like Melita experienced a shift where you went back to those customers and began relying on relationship marketing alongside your USP. How do you use your customer data to your advantage when you market to churned customers or leads? How do you use that data to create a stronger relationship with your customers?

We recently carried out segmentation research in order to understand what parts of the market we’re doing well in and which could use some improvement. And that generates ideas on how to communicate those segments where we are not so strong. We’ll tweak our above-the-line communication, campaigns and product ideas to be in line with what these particular segments need. That’s one approach. We also quantitatively track our brand health, regularly asking customers and non-customers what they think about our brand.  This gives us insights into how people feel towards our brand, our product, and services. And that gives us a lot of information on where we should allocate our resources to change the perception, be it communication, processes improvement or product and service improvement.

Then, of course, there’s our current customers’ Net Promoter Score research where we ask our customers, whether they would recommend Melita. We see customers’ pain points and again, look at where we can focus. Whereas the brand health tracker is more of an “I feel I love Melita,” or, “I feel I hate Melita,” the Net Promoter Score is, “Would you recommend Melita? And if yes, why? And if not, why not?”

As a telecoms company, I imagine you have endless data on how customers utilize your products, which types of products they use in their households, how many times they communicate with your brand, and so on. What do you think your biggest advantage is when you have access to all this data?

One of the biggest advantages that comes out of the data we gather is the variety of products we offer based on that information. For instance, we’ve gathered that customers with all four services (internet, tv, telephone, and mobile) are much happier and much more loyal than customers with less than four services.

Which tools are in your martech stack?

We work with Google Analytics, Google Cloud, etc to build models to understand future behavior. We also have analytics in our retail outlets, which measure clients’ footfalls and client interactions. We know if the customer went to a shop to pay his bill or went to the shop to purchase or to ask a question or to talk. Then, we use Optimove to help us better engage and understand all these various segments. We also use Optimove for campaign analytics, campaign automation, and journey building.

Melita isn’t just an impressive stack of technology. There are also people on the other end putting that data to good use. What does the ideal mix of data, AI, and the human touch look like for you?

AI tools gives you an understanding of where the pain points are coming from. For example, churn prediction will tell you that this customer called in more than once to the call center before he asked to be disconnected or churned. AI provides these customer behavior insights, however, the human touch comes from across our product team, from our analysts, our product managers and our communications and market research people.  For example, a churn model may suggest 70 variables that have a predictive effect.  But it takes the human touch to filter those variables according to strategic priorities or knowledge of what is in the process or product innovation funnel; it’s pointless optimizing a churn model around an attribute that will soon be obsolete. There is also the brand communication and engagement, where you must know how to communicate with these various personas and which channel to use. Some people watch TV. Some people still go to retail outlets. They would want the human touch. Depending on the persona, you can figure out the best mix of AI and person-to-person contact for each customer.

Within the past few months, Melita has expanded into a new market, Italy. Have your customer personas evolved or are you in the process of evolving them as you move into Italy? How does that move affect your strategy?

It’s a very different strategy and a totally different market in Italy, where we position ourselves as a premium provider. We’re saying, “We’re transparent, and we have the best service for you. Try us out. We’re a bit more expensive than the others, but only on the front, because other service providers have a lot of hidden costs.” From the outset, we’ve made sure that we provided a positive customer experience, and didn’t dive into fighting for the lowest possible price point.

In Malta, we already have a substantial base; we have more than half the markets in broadband and TV and a third of the market in mobile. Here, it’s more about making sure that those customers remain loyal and part of that is about always being on top of how we keep those customers engaged. It’s more of a focus on a loyalty and retention strategy.

From growing your base, what trends or themes will remain most important to Melita?

I think personalization, or really understanding how to communicate with different personas will continue its importance. Something that we are looking into, for example, is having different landing pages, different types of communication for our customers coming in from different parts of the web. We know we’re targeting a certain type of client with a certain type of advert, and if that advert shows on a particular website, you know it’s that persona. So when this person would click on that advert, it would take this person to a landing page related to what they want to see. That’s one thing that we are looking at.

Other than that, it’s creating a seamless omnichannel experience. As I mentioned earlier, we have the data, it’s just about managing this experience. And I think, with Optimove, we’ll have even more data to be able to say, “Okay, this is working. This is not working. Let’s tweak the message here. Let’s send an email, send an SMS to that segment.” And that is something that will evolve in the coming year or two.

This next one is a little bit more lighthearted, less data-heavy. If you could have dinner with anyone from any time period, who would it be and why?

I’d go to dinner with Jeff Bezos so he could tell me about how he’s managing to succeed in all these new markets and using all that data and its digital wonderland. I admire Jeff Bezos for the way he scales excellence. He keeps growing but doesn’t sacrifice the quality.

Last question: any tips for young marketers who are just starting out in the field or any common mistakes that you would advise them to avoid?

I think one mistake that even Melita has made in the past is to not focus on the customer experience. That should be at the forefront of what you do. It’s not just about messaging, it’s not just about content, it’s not about what you say, but it’s about what you do and how you do it. So quality service sells. And that’s quality from A to Z, so from building the product to delivering, to servicing after sales throughout the customer’s entire relationship.

I think marketers must realize they’re the business drivers, not just the communicators. Marketing touches every part of the company as well as the clients and potential clients. So what marketers must see is the customer’s point of view before doing anything.

The post “Marketers must see the customer’s point of view before doing anything else” appeared first on Post Funnel.

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7 Tips For Qualifying Leads (And Filtering Out Bad Ones) Before You Even Get On The Phone

Source: https://www.autogrow.co/7-lead-qualifying-strategies/

Qualifying leads… this one is ripe for a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory golden egg reference. You remember the movie, right? 

The geese, the golden eggs, the trash chute that ends up being Veruca Salt’s ultimate demise (she was, after all, a “bad egg”). 

But I think this take on lead qualification is a bit too simplistic. It doesn’t quite do the issue justice. 

Why? 

Because there’s just one single test being performed in the movie. Is it a good egg or a bad egg? And then BAM! A decision.

But in reality, lead qualification is much more of a process than that. 

Leads go through a procedure of qualification, not just one be-all and end-all test. 

So instead, I prefer to think of lead qualification more as a schoolyard merry-go-round. Or rather, what I’m sure you used to do on a schoolyard merry-go-round when you were a kid…

Remember this childhood memory? Four to eight friends and you on the contraption, gripping the bars as tight as possible. And another along the outside, mustering every ounce of strength to spin the merry-go-round faster and faster and faster, until…

WOOSH! One of the riders is hurled off by the ever-increasing g-force. 

Then WHOOSH! Another! Then another!

Eventually, one rider would be left on board. And for a day, he was king of the playground. He was usually dry heaving for the rest of recess, sure. But no one denied his right to the throne. 

THIS is how I prefer to think of qualification. 

It’s not just one question that shows if a lead is a good fit for your business. Instead, it’s a process of weeding out the weaker candidates. Like the g-forces of the merry-go-round steadily rising to throw off another one of your friends. 

So the question is, what kinds of changes can you implement to qualify your leads past the point of a single question?

And that’s exactly what this guide shows you. How to qualify leads and filter out the bad ones before you even get on the phone. 

Why Do You Need To Bother Qualifying Anyways?

So, first thing’s first: why should you qualify leads anyways? Don’t you want to bring in as many potential customers as possible? Isn’t business based on the old tried and true principle of “the more the merrier?” 

No!

While every business wants to pack their pipeline full of leads, the real secret is making sure your business is right for those leads. And making sure those leads are right for you

But when it comes down to it, qualifying leads comes down to 3 major benefits. 

  • It Saves You Time – Simply put, following up on a bad lead is a waste of time. And if you’re like most digital marketers, business owners, entrepreneurs, or pretty much anyone else on the planet earth, your time is super precious. And God knows you don’t want to get 45 minutes into a call only to realize that there’s zero chance that this lead is going to be a good fit. So weed them out now, and save time later. 
  • A More Qualified Lead Is Easier To Close – The more a prospect knows about what you’re offering, the easier it is to sell them on it. Plus, qualifying leads is also one of the biggest time-vampires for your sales team too. In fact, Hubspot points out that more than 1 in 5 salespeople report that qualifying a lead is the biggest challenge in their job. 
  • Selling Too Early Can Hurt Your Long-Term Relationship – When a prospect is ready to buy, the next step is to talk to a salesperson. They’re here, they’re playing ball, and they’re looking to get the information they need to get the product or service they want. But what if they aren’t ready to buy… and they still get hit with the sales pitch? They’re more likely to scatter, never to return again. And as Salesforce points out, a whopping 62% of customers say they’re likely to share their bad company experience with othersso it’s probably hurting your reputation too. 

As you can see, there are some major benefits to tightening up your lead qualification process. 

Not only will it save you and your team loads of time when it comes to getting buy-in from prospects. But it’ll also ensure that you aren’t sabotaging the possibility of a working relationship with leads or their contacts further down the line. 

7 Qualifying Tactics For Weeding Out The WRONG Leads

Okay, okay. Qualifying leads is super important. That’s great. 

But what can you do to make the qualifying process easier? 

What kinds of elements should you add to your sales funnel to weed out the duds and hold on to the studs

Well, let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Tip #1: Ask Qualifying Questions (Duh!)

If you want to better qualify your prospects, start by asking them qualifying questions before they can contact your sales team. 

This one shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone, right? “If you want to do the thing you want to do, try doing the thing you want to do.” Duh. 

But the truth of the matter is that so many businesses are still just taking any leads they can get, and sift through them by hand later. 

The smartest businesses (often with the best sales funnels) on the other hand, include at least basic qualifying questions to filter out the right prospects.  

And don’t be afraid to make your qualification questions lengthy (within reason of course). The more effort a prospect has to put in to start working with you, the more likely they’re going to be to sign on when it comes time to buy or bail at the end of your funnel. 

Once you’re onboard the qualifying questions train, it’s time to start asking the right questions to help keep out the riff-raff. 

Now, you’ll want to start with the basics, of course. Name, email address, business name, industry, etc. 

After that, there are a few different question frameworks to choose from. The first, known as the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline) qualification framework was actually developed by IBM. Because it’s short, easy to remember, and gets to the heart of things, BANT is the tried-and-true choice for plenty of businesses out there today. 

Alright, let’s break BANT down a bit. 

  • Budget – How much is your prospect 1) willing and 2) able to spend? Too little to fall into your price range? Give ‘em the ax (metaphorically, of course). 
  • AuthorityDoes this lead actually have the power to make the buy-in decision? Or do we need to bring someone else into the conversation?
  • NeedDo they actually have a need you can fill? If not, better to find out now rather than 20 minutes into a sales call. 
  • TimelineWhat kind of schedule are they on? Does it align with yours and your service’s?

BANT is great because it’s simple. But if you really want to dive deep into the details of a lead, you could always adopt other more complicated systems too. Below are just a few to consider, as pointed out by Hubspot

  • MEDDIC (Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain, Champion)
  • CHAMP (Challenges, Authority, Money, Prioritization)
  • GPCTBA/C&I (Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline, Budget, Authority, Negative Consequences, and Positive Implications)
  • ANUM (Authority, Need, Urgency, Money)
  • FAINT (Funds, Authority, Interest, Need, Timing)

Tip #2: Create An Engaging Demo Video

Asking questions isn’t the only way to qualify your leads though. And one other method that’s been surging in popularity for years is including a demo video right on your sales page or website. 

A well-made and eye-catching demo video is great for a couple of reasons. 

  • It Answers A Few Obvious Questions – A demo video gives you the chance to more clearly explain your product or service, how it works, and what benefits it can bring to the life of the customer. The more questions you can answer for a prospect, the easier it will be for them to tell if your service is a good fit for them. And no wasted time for your sales staff.
  • It Adds An Extra Layer Of Personality – This is the perfect place to put you or the face of your company up close and center stage. The more of a human connection you can make, the better. Plus, the music you add, the video or animation style, the charisma of the voice-overthey all help shape your company’s personality. Just please, please don’t use oversimplified cartoons with a ukulele playing in the background. There are already at least 25 million corporate videos out there with the exact same style littered across the internet. 
  • It’s A Great Way To Drive Engagement – Solid side benefit here. People love videos. Like, a lot. Forbes says that the average user spends 88% more time on a website with a video. Wyzowl found that 72% of people would rather use a video to learn about a product or service than text. And when it comes to a memorable CTA, an astounding 95% of viewers were more likely to remember a call to action in a video compared to just 10% with text according to Insivia.

So take the time to put together a demo video for your homepage. Not only will it answer your prospect’s questions and help qualify them. But it’ll also give you an edge on being more memorable and more engaging too. 

Tip #3: Build A FAQs Section Into Your Sales Page

Piggybacking along with the last tip, one of the best ways to qualify leads is by answering all of their questions before you send them over to sales. And the most efficient way of doing that is by popping in a frequently asked question section. 

FAQs are perfect for getting a little more into the weeds and answering common concerns about your service quickly. 

How will I be charged? BAM! It’s in the FAQs… 

How do I turn on a specific feature? POW! Right in the FAQs, baby… 

Does your company have a return policy? KABLAAM! Question #4 in the FAQs… 

No need to get sales involved and no need to waste their time answering questions. 

The trick, however, is knowing how to write not only a FAQs section that answers questions, but that also helps sell your product along the way. Here are a few FAQs tips that will help grow your sales along the way. 

Tip #4: Survey The Ones That Got Away

As humans, we’re especially good at identifying patterns. It’s what’s helped us go from club-wielding nomads to car-driving, laser-shooting, philosophers, scientists, and artists. 

We’ve still got quite a bit of the baser desires of cavemen in us (re: football, Real Housewives of Wherever, politics in general). But it’s our ability to solve problems with the logic that got us where we are today. 

And when something goes wrong, like a lead falls out of your funnel, the logical thing to do is to ask them, “Hey, why’d you leave?”

If you get an “unsubscribe,” ask them what’s making them go. 

If a lead makes it to the last stage of your funnel and abandons the ship, find out what made them jump. 

And if their response is based on a misunderstanding or a false perception (e.g., they couldn’t find any info on a feature you actually have), use that information to address their concerns earlier on in the buyer’s journey. 

Feedback is gold for any business. And the more you take it into account, the better you can tweak your marketing to cater to the right prospects. 

Tip #5: Set A Clear Price Point

While talking about money may be uncouth within certain circles, you’re running a business. And money, well, it’s just a part of the game. A big part. The biggest part. 

So when you’re browsing a company’s website and are getting more and more excited about working with them, there’s nothing more infuriating than not being able to find a price point anywhere

It’s like they’re actively hiding it from you. And in all likelihood, that means that they have something to hide (an eye-popping price tag, maybe?). 

In order to avoid that frustration and help ensure that your leads can actually afford your services, you’ve got to include a well-made pricing page. Or at the very least, a ballpark price point that your leads can focus on. 

No matter which you decide to go with, price anchoring is a great way to set expectations early and make your product or service appear far more affordable. 

Tip #6: Be Blunt About The Basics

In your business, you know what works and what doesn’t. 

Even if you haven’t blatantly set them yet, there are limits to what you can work worthrequirements that simply must be met in order for you to get the results your clients are after. 

For instance, at AutoGrow, we only work with clients that can afford a specific minimum monthly ad budget. Because if it’s any lower than that, we won’t be able to bring in the leads needed to get the kinds of results we’re used to earning for our clients. 

And every business has baselines like these. So why not call them out?

Be blunt about what you require to get your prospects the end-result they’re after. 

Do you need responses and feedback within a certain number of days after finishing a prototype? Say so. 

Do you only work with companies that already have a program framework in place for you to build off of? Put it smack dab in the middle of your homepage. 

If there’s something about a prospective client that instantly disqualifies them from working with you, say it loud and say it proud. Because it’s only going to save time and resources for your sales team at the end of the day. 

Tip #7: Call Out The Industries That Are A Good Fit–And The Ones That Ain’t

And last but certainly not least, be specific about who you work with and who you don’t

Yes, yes. This touches on the age-old question of to niche, or not to niche. And a lot of businesses out there are sensitive on the issue. 

But the truth is that in order to grow efficiently, it just makes good sense to appeal to a certain niche market rather than casting a wider net. So the sooner you do find your business’s ideal niche market, the better. 

But once you do, be sure to call it out on your website. 

Are you a SaaS business that only serves building materials manufacturers? Or a transportation company that only deals in medical materials? Or an adult-oriented magician that doesn’t do kids’ parties?

Call out specifically who you do and who you don’t work within your marketing materials. This is especially important advice for that last example. 

Conclusion

So there you have it. 11 time-tested tips for qualifying leads and filtering out the bad ones before you even get on the phone. 

  • Ask Qualifying Questions & Ask The RIGHT Qualifying Questions
  • Create An Engaging Demo Video
  • Build A FAQs Section Into Your Sales Page
  • Survey The Ones That Got Away
  • Set A Clear Price Point
  • Be Blunt About The Basics
  • Call Out The Industries That Are A Good FitAnd The Ones That Ain’t

Now, of course, there are plenty of other ways to qualify your prospects. Some may be better suited to your particular industry than others. 

But in our experience at AutoGrow, these 11 tips have worked out the best for us. And in fact, these tips have helped us tighten up our processes, bring in the right kinds of clients to keep us growing, and even led to one of our most profitable months yet!

So go out into the world and don’t be afraid to start disqualifying today. Because the better you are at that, the more likely you’ll be to find your golden egg. 

What kinds of qualifying tactics have you used in the past? Which one of these 11 are you already planning on implementing? Did you also find Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory creepy and kind of dark for a kid’s movie? 

Let me know in the comments below!

And as always…

Keep funnelin’, stay focused.

Alex T.

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NEWS // New Representation: Tea & Water Pictures

Source: http://focus52.blogspot.com/2018/06/news-new-representation-tea-water.html

I’m pleased to announce that I am now represented by Tea & Water Pictures in New York, London and Beijing. They are an exciting agency that have a some great production experience and a team with really diverse but complimentary backgrounds, so I’m excited to see what we can achieve together over the next few years!

They’ve also done a little interview with me which, if you’re interested, you can read here 

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NEWS // New Representation: Tea & Water Pictures

Source: http://focus52.blogspot.com/2018/06/news-new-representation-tea-water.html

I’m pleased to announce that I am now represented by Tea & Water Pictures in New York, London and Beijing. They are an exciting agency that have a some great production experience and a team with really diverse but complimentary backgrounds, so I’m excited to see what we can achieve together over the next few years!

They’ve also done a little interview with me which, if you’re interested, you can read here 

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Now Open – Survey On Webinar Attendee Preferences

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheWebinarBlog/~3/2OHNCRvqcQQ/thewebinarblog~Now-Open-Survey-On-Webinar-Attendee-Preferences.html

Let’s work together to better understand what people want from webinars. I have built a survey targeted at webinar attendees. It asks about the kinds of webinars people attend and how they attend.

There is NO branding on the survey, NO mention of specific technologies, and NO links to any websites.

If you help spread this and encourage people to add their responses, I pledge to make all the data publicly available. I’ll summarize it in a blog post for convenience and I’ll provide the raw data as well so you can make whatever sorts, groupings, and conclusions you want. You can reference it without any mention of my name or Webinar Success.

The survey link is https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/webinarprefs

I hope we can get some good representation on what participants want from the webinars they attend.

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