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By Kristy Sturgill • March 9, 2018

Marketing Funnel Vs Sales Funnel: Why You Should Be Tracking Both

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Here are two important questions. Did you meet your sales or revenue goal last quarter? And, were your marketing efforts successful last quarter? For many companies, they could answer the first question without hesitation. However, the second question is tricky.

They might say yes or no based on productivity, visits to the company website, the new contacts or leads gathered or a plethora of other metrics. The problem is that measuring marketing requires more than just a dollar figure like sales, but both teams need data because it’s critical for accountability -- and ultimately growth in your organization.

We’ll be quick to point out, though, that marketing and sales share the same funnel. The two teams are just positioned differently. Marketing typically champions the top of the funnel by attracting new leads to the website via content, educating the prospect until they’re positioned to buy.

The next step is critical: the hand-off. Like a relay race, the marketing team passes a promising lead to their sales counterparts. Then, it’s up to them to reach the finish line and close the deal.  

We spend a lot of time measuring the results, like who crosses the finish line and how fast they do it. But, we can’t forget to also consider the individuals who nurtured leads before they landed on a sales desk. An underperforming marketing team can be a source of distress for a sales team. Similarly, an underperforming sales team is frustrating for the marketing team.

A company will see the most growth when the different teams are working in step together. How do we drag our main focus from the finish line to instead evaluate the entire process? It begins by measuring success throughout the sales and marketing funnel and not just the outcomes. 

Top of the funne

The Company will Expand its Reach

It’s easy to not value the top of the funnel as much as the bottom of the funnel because that’s not where you make money. However, the first steps of a prospect’s journey is just as important as their decision to purchase.

The top of the funnel is where your marketing team completes tasks like blogging, social media management and creating copy for web pages. A little further down the funnel, leads are viewing even more content like ebooks, worksheets, white papers and webinars.

The top of the funnel is vital to success in later interactions with customers. You’ll have to assess if your content is high quality and generous enough for prospects to find it valuable. Your measurements will help you find new opportunities or areas of improvement.

Here are a few things to measure at the top:

  • How many visitors do you have to your website each day/month/year?
  • Where are people discovering your brand? (Facebook, Twitter, traditional advertisements, word-of-mouth, Google search, etc.)
  • What content does your target market consume the most? (a specific e-book, blog topic, webinars, etc.).
  • How long do visitors spend on your website?
  • What is your lowest performing type of content or topic?

After you gather up the data important to your organization, you can start asking questions like “Are we attracting the right customers to our brand at the right time?” If not, what could you do differently to start targeting the right buyer persona?

Finding the top performing types of content will help you replicate success moving forward. Similarly, knowing what isn’t working with your audience will help you avoid poor performing topics or media platforms. With added focus on the top of the funnel, you might snag more leads, and give yourself room to be picky about who you should invest time and resources pursuing.

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You’ll Find the Leaks

Why are people leaving your funnel and going elsewhere to find solutions to their problem? If you’re overly focused on the outcomes of your sales and marketing funnel, you might be missing valuable insights on customer behavior.

Every funnel has leaks, where are yours?

Top of the Funnel Leaks

  • Targeting the wrong buyer persona.
  • Irrelevant message because the right people aren’t receiving the right message at the right time.
  • Your message is confusing because there are too many points in each blog or content offer.
  • The call-to-action is weak and not persuasive, creating low conversion rates.

Middle of the Funnel Leaks

  • Unqualified leads progress through the funnel.
  • The leads aren’t receiving the right amount of nurturing.
  • Too many distractions on a form designed to capture contact information.

Bottom of the Funnel Leaks

  • A messy hand-off from marketing to sales. (Losing information or not following up with MQLs.)
  • Inadequate onboarding system leaves new customers confused on how to use the product or service.
  • Limited follow-up prevents customers from transforming into evangelists.

When you’re taking the bird’s eye approach to evaluating your sales funnel, you’ll have the chance to plug some of the leaks in your funnel and capture more revenue.

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Put the “A” in SMART Goals

Company and personal goals must be attainable. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. When you’re looking at the entire sales and marketing funnel, you have the opportunity to address what is and isn’t attainable for the next quarter or year.

Furthermore, rather than having only revenue goals, you can create goals for every stage of the funnel. When you know the amount of time and effort is needed to find a marketing qualified lead, and how many of those turn into customers, you can create data-driven expectations for both the marketing and sales team.

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Create Consistent Accountability

Speaking of goals, tracking the marketing and sales funnel will help create consistent accountability throughout the organization. When both teams recognize they are equal partners in the company, they can work together seamlessly.

Open the door for collaboration.  

Make sure marketing and sales are meeting regularly. They could meet once a month, every other week or weekly. Just determine what’s best for your company and make it a habit. These meetings are perfect for creating cohesion.

The group should discuss problems and solutions. Every issue should be fair game, and the agenda should be open-ended to allow for conversation. As a general rule of thumb, the CEO and other managers who’d add pressure to the meeting should not attend to keep the meetings from turning into a space of praise rather than problem-solving.

Create shared definitions.  

To improve measurement at all levels of the funnel, make sure the team is talking the same language. If you have to, create a company dictionary, and make sure everyone understands the lingo of the industry.

Everyone commits to the pipeline.

Both the marketing and sales teams should own responsibility in revenue generation and company growth. The best strategy to create alignment is to make sure everyone is working toward shared goals. The only way you can create an environment of shared goals is if you’re tracking both the marketing funnel and sales funnel.

Finally, no marketing and sales team will always be 100 percent aligned, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time and effort to create a collaborative environment.

Are you trying to find better ways to track your sales and marketing funnel? Download our free ebook, it’s serves up some great resources, worksheets and brainstorming questions to improve your pipeline.

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