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The funnel and the conversation

ZDNet carries an interesting guest blog post from the CMO of LexisNexis, Steve Mann, requested by analyst Michael Krigsman, in which Mann talks about marketing, social media, and the marketing and sales funnel.  (Here’s the post.)

His telling point is to ask whether leads in the funnel are the right leads.

There are plenty of sales and marketing automation systems available that seek to pre-qualify leads before they hit the funnel, or seek to refine the leads once they are in the funnel, all with varying degrees of success.

But it might be argued that this is still automating a process of refinement, rather than automating the process of pre-selection.

In elections, the best (sometimes) candidates are pre-selected based on their ‘fit’ for the electorate, their skills and experience, and usually interviews.

A conversation takes place, and an assessment is made.

In marketing, social media analytics let you have the conversations, and perhaps most importantly lets you listen first to the conversations already taking place on the social web. Social analytics then let you track and analyse these conversations.

Connect these insights to your back-end sales and marketing systems, and you have a very sharp front-end to your business development activity linked to a now-primed set of pre-selected leads in your sales and marketing automation engine.

You can now use these insights to create and deliver marketing programmes that reflect the conversations – surely a better way to market, surely a faster route to a confirmed sale.

You have already pre-selected who enters the funnel, because you know that they are interested in buying because they have said so.

The lead refinement process can then continue. (Some may say they want to buy next week, some next year: the prioritization and refinement process is still needed, and marketing resources allocated accordingly.)

The correct lead beats the refined lead (at least to start with). Social helps you find those correct leads.

The correct lead beats the refined lead (at least to start with). Social helps you find those correct leads.But by using social analytics, and the power of the social web, you’re already ahead of your competitors.

But by using social analytics, and the power of the social web, you’re already ahead of your competitors.

Alan Smith: is Head of Customer Engagement at DIGIVIZER.