Managing The Sales And Marketing Funnel

One of the biggest issues that organizations have nurturing their leads through the marketing and sales funnel is successfully managing the stages of the entire funnel from top to bottom. Though the marketing funnel and the sales funnel are usually delineated from one another, the sum of their parts comprise the entire business development funnel. Both must function independently of one another but align under common goals to ensure so that quality leads are generated, and opportunities are converted to customers. Establishing proper funnel management is critical to the success of your marketing and sales funnels.

Together, the marketing and sales funnels should comprehensively address the three stages of a prospect’s buyer’s journey: the awareness stage, the consideration stage, and the decision stage. Effective funnel management is required to identify where your leads are within the funnel, to optimize each stage of the marketing and sales funnel, and to determine when a lead is ready to switch from the marketing funnel to the sales funnel.

Common Sales And Marketing Funnel Challenges

In simplest terms, the goal is to unify efforts that address the needs of your leads by providing value at each stage to help move them through the funnel to the point of sale. The thing is, it can get a bit more complicated than that, especially when you take into consideration all of the obstacles that can prevent leads from moving from one stage to the next. Understanding what some of the common marketing and sales funnel challenges are will better equip you to identify them and solve for each when they undoubtedly arise. With that in mind, the following are some of the common challenges that businesses face when managing their marketing and sales funnel:

The marketing and sales funnel is called a “funnel” because of the hypothetical shape it would take were it an actual physical object. It’s a funnel because of how many contacts you begin with at the very top. As these contacts are nurtured into leads and qualified through each stage of the funnel, the number will naturally reduce. A portion of your leads will drop out at each stage as a result of finding a different solution, losing interest in your company, or not being qualified in some other way (such as not having the budget or decision making abilities to convert). Because of this, the funnel size naturally shrinks from one stage to the next, resulting in a funnel-like shape.

Unfortunately, if there is an issue with your marketing or sales processes, it can cause the funnel to be misshaped. For example, if the middle of the funnel is too skinny, it means that your visitors aren’t converting to leads or your leads aren’t becoming more qualified and getting closer to becoming a sales qualified opportunity. This can be the result of targeting the wrong audience and may require you to revisit (or develop) your buyer personas. If the middle of the funnel is too bloated, it means that your leads are getting stuck in the funnel. This can happen if you’re not properly qualifying leads for the next stage. It can also occur if you’re having issues addressing your prospects’ needs to nurture them through to the next stage of the funnel by providing them with value and compelling reasons to do business with your company.

Finally, if the end of the funnel is too small, it may mean that your leads are being handed over before being sales qualified or because there’s an issue with your sales process, which is leading to fewer sales opportunities and ultimately fewer than expected new customers.

If there’s a massive drop-off from the number of leads that you’ve qualified as MQLs (marketing qualified leads) to the number of SQLs (sales qualified leads), then there’s a good chance that it’s the result of a failure on behalf of your marketing team to follow up with MQLs in a timely fashion or provide value to develop that trusting relationship from the outset which compels a lead to advance through their buyer’s journey with your company.

Once you’ve captured a lead and qualified them, you need to engage with them right away. Companies who lose a lot of their prospects typically do so because they either didn’t follow up at all or it took them too long to follow up. A qualified lead who isn’t targeted right away can end up falling through the cracks, resulting in a lost prospect. Poor qualification standards (or a lack of qualification methods altogether) can result in your marketing team spending too much time on leads that are less likely to close while missing out on prospects who were highly qualified.

One of the responsibilities of marketing is to qualify leads before they hand them off to the sales team. This is done so your sales team isn’t wasting their time engaging prospects who are not yet ready to buy. You want your sales team’s efforts to nurture your prospects to the bottom of the sales funnel to be as efficient as possible. The time they waste on unqualified prospects could have been used to nurture prospects who are actually sales-ready.

Some prospects take longer to become customers than others. They need to be nurtured for longer and may have different needs that have to be met and concerns that have to be addressed. Such prospects are often tossed to the wayside by businesses that are too concerned with closing the deal. While you do want to move your prospects down the sales funnel to close a sale, remember that your customers are more important than your sales. A sale is just one transaction, whereas a customer can result in numerous deals in the future if you give them the attention they deserve.

How To Manage Your Sales And Marketing Funnel Effectively

Understanding what some of the common obstacles of effective funnel management are should help you to better prepare for those challenges. The critical components of a successful funnel management strategy below will allow you to optimize your marketing and sales funnel and prevent problems from occurring within the funnel.

Identifying when a lead is ready to move on to the next stage of the funnel is essential to being able to nurture them towards the bottom of the funnel effectively. This requires your marketing team to successfully qualify your prospects. Poor qualification capabilities can cause a lot of inefficiencies throughout your funnel. To ensure that you can qualify leads successfully, you need to align your marketing and sales teams.

Proper marketing and sales alignment will allow both teams to work together to determine what the qualifying actions and information are. By leveraging a lead qualification process, your marketing and sales teams should identify thresholds that identify prospects who are qualified to move on to the next stage. Such collaboration will help strengthen your ability to properly qualify your prospects. To ensure that you keep your marketing and sales teams on the same page as they engage prospects throughout the funnel, make sure that you develop a marketing and sales SLA (service level agreement).

Your CRM allows you to collect all of a contact’s data (from the actions they take online to the information they provide via forms and one-on-one interactions) into a single profile. Both your marketing and sales personnel can update these profiles and use them to make sure that they are engaging in a relevant way.

You can customize your CRM in a variety of ways to better manage your funnel. For example, using your CRM you can establish a lead scoring system that’s tailored to your unique prospects. You can also implement various automation tools to help ensure that you’re engaging your prospects at the right time. Segmentation can be used to personalize interactions, allowing you to nurture your prospects more successfully from stage to stage.

You might think you have all your bases covered as far as funnel management goes, but you won’t know unless you monitor the performance of your marketing and sales teams. To ensure that there are no issues in your funnel or that there are obstacles that are preventing prospects from moving from one stage to the next, monitor various metrics and KPIs by implementing dashboards and reporting.

Through the use of dashboards, you can visualize the metrics and KPIs you deem important for your marketing and sales teams, making them easy to read. They can then access your dashboards and monitor these metrics and KPIs in real-time to identify potential issues or trends that should be addressed. You can even create different dashboards that are tailored to your marketing and sales teams. Dashboard solutions also allow you to automate the creation and distribution of reports to various stakeholders and decision-makers who can then make more informed decisions when it comes to your marketing and sales strategies.

Managing Your Sales Funnel Is Critical To Your Marketing And Sales Efforts

The funnel encompasses the entire process in which a contact first becomes aware of your business all the way through to the point of sale. Moving a prospect smoothly from one stage to the next requires that they be engaged with, and nurtured by, both your marketing and sales teams. Leads are simply not going to get from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel without the effort of both marketing and sales teams. As such, to ensure that they move through the funnel efficiently and successfully, effective funnel management is required. This includes making sure that your marketing and sales strategies and teams are properly aligned

Talk to a consultant about optimizing your Sales & Marketing Funnels today.
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