Motivation in the Sales Funnel

It’s no secret that the sales funnel has changed dramatically with the growth of the internet. Prospects can enter the sales process at almost any stage and exit just as quickly for a variety of reasons.  Whether you view the funnel as a bow-tie or flywheel, the motivation of the prospect is the key to gaining more sales.

Inbound marketing touts the different stages of the sales process as: awareness, consideration, decision and delight.  These are the tasks that fill the sales funnel. But it leaves out the motivational component. Sure a prospect is aware of your company but is their motivation high enough for them to move through the sales funnel? Yes, they may be considering your service but is the motivation there to jump through the process of becoming a customer?

The personal part of marketing demands that we understand what is motivating our prospects so we can better tailor the marketing messages to increase motivation.  It’s more than just extolling the benefits of the service, it’s understanding the psyche so the marketing message contains the correct elements at the right time.

Motivation is affected by: connectedness, freedom, growth and accomplishment.

Connectedness is emotional and contextual.  It is based on involvement, history or trust.

When creating campaigns to generate awareness you also need to generate the motivation to engage.  Someone may be aware of your company but that doesn’t necessarily motivate them to visit a website or investigate what the company offers.  But when someone has a sense of connectedness, then it’s more likely they will take the step to engage at the top level with your sales funnel.  

How do you generate connectedness? By incorporating testimonials, reviews and stories.  Using actual review comments within marketing instills trust. Personal success stories centered around your company as the hero can help push beyond simple awareness to engagement.  A story creates trust through the testimonial. When “someone like me” has had a positive engagement with the company or brand it motivates others to action.

Freedom of choice.

Early in the sales process, people need to feel they aren’t “locked in.”  They need the freedom to make choices and have multiple options. For example, Lowe’s offers people who have their card an option of an on the spot discount or interest free financing.  Knowing that these are options are available to card holders gives prospects a sense of freedom when they consider applying for the credit card.

Using tactics that feel overly persuasive tend to take away the feeling of freedom. This is why the stereotypical car salesperson brings about an uncomfortable feeling.   When marketing tactics use words that make the experience feel like there is no choice, motivation to move forward is diminished and engagement is cut off.

Growth opportunities: personally and professionally.

A product or service that promises and increase in sales or leads is one example of growth motivation.  On a personal level, people will perceive an opportunity to grow if they can improve themselves or their surroundings. This is the place to talk about the benefits, real and perceived, of doing business with your company.

Accomplishment refers to power, success, recognition, sense of achievement, respect.  

When people perceive that engaging with your company will give them respect or a sense of achievement they are more motivated to make the decision to buy.  Certainly there is a sense of achievement that comes with completing the transaction as well. But beyond that, the positive feelings bring the funnel full circle and convert buyers into advocates for repeat business and future sales to others.

Here’s an example of motivation in the sales funnel.  Consider a gym selling memberships.

  • When advertising, the gym let’s people know that there is a choice of plans (prices) and that the gym is open 24 hours (time).  This gives people the sense of freedom.
  • To lend a sense of connectedness, marketing features success stories and before and after photos.  Links to reviews are also included.
  • Email marketing shares the benefits of working out focusing on the sense of accomplishment when people reach their goals.
  • And finally, influencers can be used to speak about results and how they grew as a person. (Growth)

Like the new sales funnel (of any shape) people can enter at any stage.  So whether the motivation is growth, connectedness, accomplishment, or freedom doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the multiple touches are honing in on the motivation of that particular prospect.  By taking the time to examine the data you can segment the audience by actions which will give some insight to motivation. Then tailor the follow up marketing to match.

Understanding the role that motivation plays in the looping sales cycle will help you bring people successfully through the process to becoming customers and customer evangelists.  


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