How many times have you heard, “The key is to analyze the marketing funnel”? Next time someone says this to you, ask them if they know about the Circular Customer Lifecycle. I bet a lot of people will look at you like you are crazy, but in reality, you are the one “in the know”.
The marketing funnel has always been focused on the end result, the purchase. If your business is like most out there, you are thinking, “Of course I am interested in the sale, this is how my business survives!” and I am not here to disagree with you. Instead, I want to offer some insight into this new idea of a circular process around the customer that focuses on engagement after the purchase, building long-term customers and clients.
The traditional funnel goes something like this: brand awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, decision, and buy. This funnel does not take into account the variety of ways clients now enter the B2B sales cycle, and this traditional funnel just ends after “buy”. Say good-bye to building the life-long client relationship.
Instead, consider the Circular Customer Life Cycle:
The customer or client is the total focus. Some of the steps are similar: customer/client discovers brand, explores their options, and completes purchase/signs contract. This is where things change. In the old funnel, “Buy” was the final step. In the new cycle, “Engage” is the final step. Companies provide support, track customer data, inspire loyalty, and identify new needs. Instead of just ending the relationship after “Buy”, there is a conscious effort to continue to engage the customer with the brand. This is really important because a lot of B2B companies rely on return customers and referrals.
A similar approach is the Company Buying Journey (CBJ). This is based on loops representing the idea that customer relationships don’t move in one direction toward a sale and instead are nonlinear and continual. CBJ breaks the process down into the following categories: explore, evaluate, purchase, and experience. Again, there is a step after purchase that entails keeping the customer or client engaged with the brand.
The bottom line is the same no matter which model you look at: don’t leave the customer or client hanging after the sale, you have to continue the relationship.