Architecture and Engineering teams must continually ensure that the leads they generate are properly nurtured and converted. New customer acquisition can be a long, labor-intensive and cumbersome process. Business development cycles for professional services firms in the construction industry are longer than most, and your prospect development stages and processes must be clearly defined or you’ll easily lose out on opportunities.
Prospects must be properly nurtured from the initial contact all the way to closing the final proposal.
Unfortunately, a number of A&E marketing teams fail to define how this happens. They know their job is to secure the lead, and keep the lead engaged, but the structure of their funnel and sales process lacks specifics. Here are some tips to reverse engineer your sales process in order to stay on track with your end-of-year goals.
Understanding historical indicators is critical to duplicating future results.
1. Start With Sales Actions and Goals: Lagging and Leading Indicators
Lagging indicators represent the sales and marketing actions that led to past sales and revenue. Leading indicators represent the future actions you must take in order to duplicate your past results and improve upon them. So, if you know how many calls you made, meetings you secured, quotes you submitted, and sales you closed over a regular reporting period, you can begin to define the number of digital marketing and sales actions that must occur in the future.
In this case, you’re using past indicators and sales metrics to define future actions in order to meet or exceed sales goals. Start with previous sales actions, then backtrack them to outline the future actions you must take to improve results.
2. Defining Opportunities
Not every lead becomes qualified and not every qualified lead becomes an opportunity. You need to define what your company considers a real opportunity. Is an opportunity a chance to bid on a new architectural design? Are engineering and design proposals to existing customers considered opportunities? Your AEC marketing and sales team must clearly define what they consider to be real opportunities so that this portion of your sales process and funnel is easily understood.
3. Defining a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
A prospect may meet all the AEC marketing criteria to be considered a lead, yet not be qualified by Sales. This is because a salesperson is able to discuss the customer’s particular requirements and assess their relevance. Make sure you come up with relevant sales criteria so that sales can move an SQL to an opportunity.
Reverse engineering your sales process is guaranteed to reveal some inefficiencies.
4. The Marketing-Qualified Lead (MQL)
This is the portion of the process where a prospect has taken an action that has driven them to your company. It might include a prospect downloading a whitepaper off your website, an incoming lead generated by a pay-per-click (PPC) digital marketing campaign, or a lead generated through a webcast or podcast.
This lead has expressed an interest in your company, its design competencies, and its engineering capabilities. As long as your AEC marketing team produces focused content that generates targeted traffic, then the quality of your marketing leads won’t be in question. However, if this portion of your sales process continually falls short, an assessment and revamping is in order.
5. Prospects, Leads and Top-Level Funnel/Sales Activities
Ultimately, it’s a question of having a focused, digital marketing message, one that is geared towards your target audience and one that will motivate customers to take action. The more accurate your sales and marketing strategies are, the more likely you’ll secure high-quality prospects and leads.
The goal is to make sure that your top-level activities focus specifically on your target audience. When the top of your sales process and funnel is focused on high-quality prospects, C-level decision makers, and highly-valued influencers, what moves past this point is much easier to manage.
Ultimately, reverse engineering your sales process means determining how many sales were closed, how many opportunities were created from SQLs, how many SQLs were created from MQLs, and how many prospects and leads entered your sales process and top-level portion of your funnel. Once those numbers are determined, establishing what needs to happen moving forward is much easier.