Tag Archives: buyer’s journey

Align to Buyer’s Journey then Flip the Switch for Marketing Automation

I recently read another great post on the Marketing Automation Software Guide.  The article entitled, Close the Gaps to Close More Sales with Marketing Automation, was written by Sharon Drew Morgan who has written and spoken passionately about the need for new sales models and processes. The central theme to Sharon Drew’s article is that marketing automation systems (when used properly) enable companies to align their marketing and sales efforts to the buyer’s journey. This in turn improves conversion rates and sales effectiveness. Ms. Morgan made another insightful point that I want to comment on later.

But first, the best-practice of aligning marketing and sales to the buyer’s journey isn’t new. It was creatively exposed  in 2003 in  Hugh Macfarlane’s book, The Leaky Funnel. Yet the majority of B2B companies still don’t get it, which Sharon Drew clearly points out in her post. I come face to face with this reality when I coach companies on how to align sales and marketing. Oddly enough the concept of aligning one’s revenue-generation engine to the buyer is  foreign to most companies, but slowly smart sales and marketing executives are “getting it”.

Once sales and marketing processes are aligned to the buyer’s journey then it’s time to turn on the marketing automation system, integrate it with CRM, develop the content strategy, and go into action.

Sharon Drew emphasized that sales and marketing managers must work together to identify the real buyer and get the entire decision-making team on board at the prospect company .

I was reminded when reading her article that marketing automation systems make it possible to offer and efficiently deliver role-specific content to everyone on the decision-making team. Marketing automation systems can even aid the sales team in identifying buyer roles by tracking what type of content they consume.

A check list.

  1. Identify the buyer’s journey.
  2. Align marketing and sales processes to it.
  3. Intelligently use marketing automation integrated with CRM to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time with the right frequency.
  4. Identify and bring to the “table” all of the buyer’s team.
  5. Leverage the marketing automation system to drive a lead scoring process that turns over leads that are ready to engage with you.
  6. Measure. Measure. Measure.

Reset the Sales Funnel for Revenue Forecast Accuracy

In case you didn’t notice your customers are buying differently today than they did last year.  The differences could be subtle or obvious, but if you observe closely you’ll see that the process they follow to make a buying decision–the buyers’ journey’–has changed.

If your selling process and sales funnel structure haven’t adapted to the buyers’ journey the efficiency of your sales and marketing efforts will be down and so will the accuracy of your revenue forecast. This is what I call the new “Funnel Economics”.

Here are the major variables in a sales funnel (which I am now going to refer to as the revenue funnel because it should be co-owned by marketing and sales).

  1. Stages of the buyers’ journey
  2. Lag time between stages
  3. Leakage rate at each stage
  4. Advancement rate at each stage
  5. Number of meetings required in each stage
  6. Number of meetings that each sales person can expertly handle in a week
  7. Number of available sales people
  8. Average revenue per order

Any change to any of these variables has an impact on how many deals get closed in a period of time.  The marketing and sales effort required to generate a level of revenue last year is very different from what it takes this year.

If you’re still trying to plan and forecast based on last year’s funnel structure, you’re not just flying blind you’re flying with the wrong instruments.

Reset your revenue funnel by analyzing and observing the customer’s current buying process and  behaviors.  Dial in the new metrics into your revenue funnel and monitor carefully over the next several months.  The accuracy of your revenue projections will improve.  What’s more, you’ll  have a more realistic preview of what type and level of activities are necessary to achieve a certain revenue outcome.