Funnels are like the central nervous system of the best sales organizations. Few marketing departments depend on funnels to run their business the way sales leaders do. Yes, messaging, segmentation, branding, and numerous other considerations are extremely important. But no tool can impact financial performance for marketing as much as a funnel. It’s a topic I’ll be speaking about this coming Wednesday, May 25, at an American Marketing Association webinar.
There are four reasons marketing funnels should be the central nervous system of B2B companies:
1. Simplifying complexity. The great challenge in B2B is complexity. There are lots of moving parts that are growing and changing everyday. Social media, lead nurturing, lead scoring, webinars, data-as-a-service, web-crawling technologies, and many other advancements can be overwhelming. With all of these ever-expanding moving parts, finding revenue leakage is extremely challenging and often very subjective. The beauty of the marketing funnel is that you can break down complexity into very discrete components. In fact, the more discrete the funnel and sub-funnel stages, the easier it is to deal with complexity. The key is tying all the funnels and subfunnels together into a unifying framework.
2. Isolating the leakage. Once you have a comprehensive funnel framework, you can measure the conversion of prospects from one stage to the next. You can gather benchmark data from companies like MarketingSherpa and see how you compare to other organizations. Over time, you can aggregate data from your own corporate-wide efforts and develop internal baseline conversion ratios; that way, every variance from the benchmark or the baseline should prompt you to examine why.
3. Improving financial performance. Instead of having endless debates, marketing can simply set up tests and discover what really works by measuring conversions and looking at the impact on downsteam efforts. Having conducted thousands of experiments, we’ve seen that quite often the best answer is often counter-intuitive and defies “best practices.”
4. Forecasting results. With benchmarks and especially your own baseline data, you can start to make increasingly accurate predictions on the results you will have from a given marketing initiative. And, as a general rule, the more granular your funnel stages, the more accurate the projection. Of course, accurate projections are key to getting and keeping funding.
There’s a reason sales executives absolutely run sales organizations based upon the funnel while their best sales people use it to manage their pipeline. If marketers want to drive the highest ROI possible, it’s time for them to do the same.
What are your thoughts? I welcome your feedback and if you want to learn more, be sure to attend the AMA webinar on May 25 that I’m presenting with Steve Woods, Chief Technology Officer of Eloqua, and Mike McKinnon, Senior Demand Manager of ReadyTalk.