The Internet is buzzing with blog posts on B2B marketers questioning the usefulness of the sales funnel. Harvard Business Review and Square2Marketing.com are two examples. The gist of these bloggers’ posts is that the sales funnel is no longer an adequate tool to use, because the sales process is no longer linear. For agencies, the sales funnel remains a powerful tool for explaining where each item in their bag of tools lands in the spectrum for a potential sale. Anyone can argue that leads in the B2B realm may enter the sales funnel, leave and jump back in at any of the funnel stages. However, they cannot argue that clarifying and identifying the tools according to the stages within the sales funnel is useless.
At globalHMA, we use the sales funnel, because it shows and clarifies leads gained within our campaigns, projects and programs with ease. It’s simple for our clients to see exactly how their campaigns performed, and they can easily finish the sales funnel on their own with ROI data.
In response to the blog posts against the use of the sales funnel, at globalHMA we look at touches within the funnel to qualify leads more than the traditional, outbound approach to sales of pushing a lead through the sales funnel. We are aware that potential B2B leads want to educate themselves and discover information on their own. So, when we clarify different parts of our campaign to a client, it doesn’t so much matter where a lead touches, but that they touch. We know it takes about 7-9 touches to gain a potential customers’ trust and land the sale, so watching them work within the sales funnel is extremely insightful.
With the help of tools like Marketo, we are able to qualify leads throughout the buying process, as well as help potential customers discover and become educated on our clients’ products and services. The sales funnel simply helps us display marketing tools like Marketo in visual form, and it serves as a control point for us to be sure we have provided the right tools.
We have to remember to saturate the funnel so that leads have many different places to become educated. For example, we would run a CPM or PPC campaign to help generate customer awareness of a clients’ products and/or services. At the same time, we would have email blasts and direct mail pieces ready to be sent for the consideration phase. Then, we would have a website and sales team ready to supply in-depth, educational materials for the decision phase. The beauty of Marketo is that it lets us work within the sales funnel. Instead of running one large campaign at once, we can micro-manage each individual lead as they work through the funnel on their own.
With the use of tools as basic as the sales funnel and as technical as Marketo, we are helping our clients get a better idea of ROI in regard to their marketing efforts. These are two very powerful tools that help globalHMA’s clients succeed in converting leads to sales.