Gaurav Kumar is the founder and CEO of Beyond Codes, Inc. and the author of the book ‘Sales Lessons From Golf.’
A few years ago, the TV series Bridgerton was all the rage with my teenage daughter. I got a bit wrapped up in it too. Their zany speech and behavior, the gowns, the mansions, the cutlery, and, most of all, the dances. The feminist in me scoffed at the guardians of young ladies whose life purpose seemed to be to get their kid hitched to the perfect suitor.
Then one day it dawned on me that those pesky guardians were training their debutants to treat their dance card like I use the sales funnel at work. If the mamas and papas of Bridgerton were handed our sales funnel, they may just do really well with it!
Notwithstanding the politics of reducing a young woman’s life purpose to betrothal, there were several strategies that the mamas and papas of Bridgerton follow that are perfect in the contemporary sales scenario. They don’t go into the debutant season blind. They devise a full strategy and then execute it to the T.
Here are the top five lessons that the Bridgerton parents teach us about running a holistic sales funnel:
1. Don’t Be In A Rush To Fill Up Your Dance Card
The mamas and papas of Bridgerton train their debutants to carefully pick the names to put on their dance card. They advise their wards not to get lost with too many prospective partners but rather to go for gold.
In sales, that is the equivalent of overcrowding the top of the funnel with the maximum amount of leads—to quickly jam up your bandwidth with as many suspects as possible. This carpet bombing approach in sales is aptly called “spray and pray,” for the entire sales force goes berserk in indiscriminately throwing darts into the dark at all the possible suspects in the universe and then leavse it to luck, or a fluke, to get some of them to convert to a qualified lead. Such an approach leads to a 2%-3% closure rate.
The best lead generation companies don’t overcrowd the top of the funnel. They get higher closure rates because they start the process with a relatively controlled pool of “smart suspects.”
They don’t go after an indiscriminate number of suspects just so they can boast to others about how many people they are “dancing” with.
2. Research Before D-Day
Smart mamas and papas of Bridgerton and their wards are highly research-driven. A great amount of prep goes into the lead-up to the debutant season. A debutant will not enter a ballroom without all the necessary research already done by her guardians. Sales professionals can learn a bunch from them.
The sales equivalent of this is that prior to the first approach toward a prospect, a smart sales professional or team would have collected all the necessary information required to determine whether a prospect is a potential match or not. This includes the discovery of the prospect’s budget (or a ballpark estimate). What were their prior purchases? What are the economic pressures of their industry or within their company? Who is the competition? And finally, there are the office politics, the hierarchies and the decision-making influences that will go into making the final purchase decision. Interestingly, it is in these mechanizations that the entire plot of Bridgerton plot lies.
3. Approach Qualified Leads Only
A savvy debutant is very selective over who they place on the dance card. Several qualifications must be met for a prospect to be awarded the debutant’s attention, let alone be added to her dance card.
The sales equivalent is a company that stacks its funnel with BANT-qualified leads. Should the company be unaware of the BANT qualification, then it gathers that information first, namely:
B: To discover the budget of the customer.
A: Discover who has the authority to green-light the sale.
N: Learn the pain areas or needs of the prospect.
T: Understand the timeline of the prospect so that the sales professional can adjust their strategy accordingly.
4. Nurture The Leads
Once the debutant’s dance card is full and the first dances are over, then the real work begins. It is time to nurture the lead!
The smart sales team does not rush the sale. It has learned to be patient in order to move the prospect sure-footedly along the sales funnel to the next level. Move too fast and break the funnel. Move too slow and lose the prospect to boredom or ennui. Instead, build the relationship by getting to know them and strengthen it with persuasion, information-sharing, nurturing and confidence-building.
In sales, nurturing the lead is where I recommend slowing down the process, not speeding it up. A smart Bridgerton mama or papa would advise their ward the same. Take the time to get to know your prospect, their quirks, their needs and their pain points. Educate them by giving them the information they need to make the right decision for themselves.
At this time, I strongly advise my sales team that if what we are selling is not the right fit for the prospect, then point them toward the right fit and let them go! That may sound crazy coming from a seasoned sales professional, but this is the key to making long-lasting relationships based on trust.
5. Fave Fun!
If I were a Bridgerton parent, I would tell my kid to be authentic, true to themselves and have fun! A good match is one that enriches both parties and improves their lives. Similarly in sales, the relationship you are looking to nurture with a prospective customer is not a one-act play but a beautiful series (like Bridgerton) that goes on and on—one that we hope to watch for many seasons to come.
To my own daughter, I would also add that life is vast and unexpected. While it is important to plan and strategize, it is best to leave a lot of room for life to surprise us with its infinite wisdom. It is in those surprises that the real magic of life lies.
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