I discovered the inbound marketing revolution in 2012. The concepts, methodology, and tactics made sense to me immediately because they seemed to address all of the things my small company was struggling with. I was focused on increasing the client base, revenue, and profit of Revenue River and dove right in implementing the strategies. I certainly wasn’t very good at it, but I jumped in with both feet, kept learning, and worked my ass off.
I learned about the sales funnel early and often. I’m sure you’ve seen it too, by now I’d imagine everyone has. The funnel was simple, easy to illustrate, and effective.
- Insert traffic from a variety of sources into the top of the funnel
- Educate them with content that raises awareness and demand for the solution you offer
- Demonstrate your competencies and abilities with the right case study so leads consider you over your competitors
- Offer them a no-obligation consultation or demo and seal the deal
- You sell them your services at a premium
- They're blown away by your awesomeness
- Money comes out the bottom of the funnel and falls in your pocket
The concept is simple enough, but certainly presented a challenge for management. As a leader and manager, how would I determine what was working and wasn’t? How would I make decisions on what’s next?
Why the funnel is so important
To lead and oversee the development of a successful digital marketing and sales campaign that leads to domination of your online universe you need to manage the sales funnel far beyond the simple funnel as described earlier.
There are a lot of numbers, metrics, and data points with digital marketing. It’s easy to get caught up in measuring everything but as an organizational leader I believe this should be your primary dashboard. You need to measure the success (or failure) of both your marketing and sales departments from and expanded version of a combined marketing and sales funnel.
Sales enablement best practices for defining the critical conversion points worth tracking in the sales funnel
You’ll want to understand and monitor performance over at least 10 steps in the sales funnel.
- How many visits do you get each month?
- How many visitors turn into leads?
- How many leads meet your ideal client fit (marketing qualified leads)?
- How many of these qualified leads are ready to enter the sales cycle (sales qualified leads)?
- How many of those leads get to proposal?
- How many of those proposals get signed?
- What are those contracts worth?
- What’s your profit margin?
- What did it cost you to acquire those customers (customer acquisition cost)?
- How much money is truly coming out the bottom?
Building best practice baselines and goals for marketers and sales reps
To effectively manage the production of your marketing and sales departments you have to start by developing your own funnel based on the best practice metrics above. From there you'll need to establish the baseline, working with whatever level of intelligence you have available to you. It’s been my experience that very few organizations have complete and accurate data points to work from. This may present a significant challenge for you too, but it’s worth working through.
Once you’ve established your baseline funnel conversion metrics you’ll be ready to develop campaign goals. These targets will require both marketers and sales representatives to perform, as each share responsibility for bottom-line success. The good news for management is that by defining the funnel and tracking it closely you’ll be able to easily identify where the failures are.
- Marketers should be responsible for raising awareness, increasing traffic, educating visitors, increasing lead conversion rates, nurturing, and qualifying suspects into prospects.
- Sales should be responsible for taking over the education process to ensure prospects get their questions answered, building credibility, and fitting solutions to needs at the proper success rates.
Your sales funnel could be much more complex than my example, especially if your sales cycle is complex. I encourage you to use this sales enablement best practice template to define your own data points. Your ability to truly maximize the monetization of your digital sales & marketing strategy will rely on your ability to identify your funnel, track the teams’ performance, and solve the bottlenecks that will surely be identified.