In past articles, we wrote about how important it is for the marketing team and sales team to be in sync. Good communication, understanding, and growth are all great indicators of successful B2B marketing and sales integration. However, executives and shareholders want to focus on one thing - revenue and business goals.
For B2B marketing and sales teams, there’s really only one place to team up to drive revenue - optimizing the funnel. For SaaS or other digital/internet-first B2B companies, the funnel is how you get an anonymous user to visit your website to convert into a customer for your product or service.
Optimizing the journey is how marketers and sales teams deliver results.
So, where do you start? Let’s look at this how to breakdown on where the best place to start.
Define the Funnel
There are countless ways to work on each stage of the funnel. However, the first step to optimizing the funnel is to properly define each stage.
Both marketers and sales teams need to work together to better understand each stage of a potential customer’s progress through the funnel. They need to speak the same language and use the same terms.
The below image is an example of Hubspot’s funnel. The top 3 stages typically refer marketing efforts, such as social media, blogging, SEO, PPC, and other kinds of web traffic drivers. The lower 3 are typically sales efforts from SDR working on Sales Accepted Leads and handing those leads off to a sales executive to open the opportunity and close the customer.
Define the B2B Marketing Qualified Leads
In your marketing and sales team discussions, it should be clear that the main focus of your efforts is to turn strangers into people who are ready for a call with a salesperson. That turning point occurs when prospects reach the Marketing Qualified Lead stage, or MQL for short.
At the top level of evaluating and deciding who qualifies as an MQL, marketing and sales teams need to determine what kinds of leads are a good fit for the company's products or services, and what signs, actions, or other types of online behavior indicate the lead’s level of interest.
A lead’s fit can be determined by a number of different implicit and explicit qualifiers, such as website page views, company size, title. The key is to align your buyer persona with your company's target customer/market. Ask yourself: “Will our product or service solve the needs of this prospect?”
Interest level can be gauged by how often a lead visits your website and which pages he/she visited, how many pieces of content were downloaded, or whether there was interaction with your social media posts. If a lead comes in from social media, visits multiple pages on your website, and downloads 2 e-books, that might be a good sign of interest. However, keep in mind that these criteria are specific to your process and company.
Leads with a good fit and level of interest can be defined as ‘MQL’ and passed on to the sales team. If a lead is a good fit, but not highly engaged yet, marketing needs to do a little more work before identifying them as an MQL. These leads are ideal for email nurturing workflows and social media engagement.
What about leads with poor fit who show a ton of interest? These leads are non-traditional. It would still be worth staying in contact with them and converting them into evangelists who can recommend your service or product to colleague.
It should go without saying that if a lead doesn’t fit your profile, or shows little to no engagement, this prospect should not be pursued. However, if your content interests this type of lead, it can still help you draw traffic to your website, boosting your SEO.
How To Use Lead Scoring
To supplement your analysis on fit and interest, it’s helpful to start using lead scoring. If you’re interested in a short read about lead scoring, check out our blog post – if you’re looking for something more in-depth, you can read our guide here. Lead scoring is an automated way of calculating a numerical score based on a lead’s attributes and behavior.
Funnel Reporting and Analysis
For marketing and sales decision making, tracking, and reporting, you'll need to keep track of high-level metrics. Executives are not interested in email open rates, SDR call rates or how many clicks a social media message garnered. They need to know numbers associated with each stage of the funnel stage to identify bottlenecks or problematic areas.
What are the key marketing and sales metrics you need to report on? Here a helpful list:
Visitor to lead conversion rate
Lead to MQL conversion rate
MQL to SQL conversion rate
MQL to opportunity conversion rate
Opportunity to customer conversion rates
Lead to customer conversion rate
Visitor to customer conversion rate
Sales cycle length
Cost per sale
These marketing and sales metrics will help you identify problems and adjust priorities. It could be that you’re driving loads of traffic, but your leads are stuck. If this is the case, it might be a good time to invest some effort in lead scoring and email nurturing.
Defining your marketing and sales funnel is just the start.
Once you have clear definitions of how your web traffic turns into customers, start optimizing any of the trouble spots to keep your marketing machine running efficiently.