Tag Archives: marketing funnel

What Really Excites me About Marketing Automation

More of the right marketing activity to the right contact at the right time

Up to now I’ve been intrigued by how marketing automation systems can enable a resource-limited marketing department to execute more lead generation and lead nurturing activities, more systematically, with more rhythm, and do a better job of capturing metrics along the way.

To my way of thinking that represents a pretty strong value proposition—more of the right marketing activity to the right person at the right time. I can see immediately how a marketing automation solution contributes to revenue growth when the system is used to support a funnel management strategy agreed to by both Sales and Marketing. (I can also see how a system could fail if it was implemented before a funnel management strategy was in place).

All marketing automation solutions have an Achilles Heel. They need accurate contact information. Contact names have to be input from a database, or generated via some marketing response vehicle (800#, web form, etc.).

Marketing to the Anonymous Majority

Today’s marketing executive recognizes that there is an  “anonymous majority” of potential buyers for their product or service who are researching solutions and vendors online and in social networks in secret well into their buying process.  A multitude of buyers are out there, invisible to the vendor because they are concealing their identity and/or their purchasing role. Without a name, purchasing role, and contact info these valuable buyers cannot be systematically marketed to via Marketing Automation system and outbound tactics.

However, what is exciting me about Marketing Automation today (okay, call it 2.0 if you must) is how some solutions are able to reveal the identity of these anonymous majority buyers.

A caveat before I go further. I am not an expert on marketing automation tools or systems. Neither am  I a professional product reviewer.  I don’t live and breathe this stuff. I don’t make my living from within the category. This is not a product review round up.

Marketo , and Manticore Technology, to name just two of many marketing automation vendors, provide anonymous web visitor identification functionality.  By cross referencing the domain name of a web visitor with domain registration information and contact databases such as LinkedIn and Jigsaw these systems can basically point you in the right direction. You won’t know for sure who visited your site, but at least you’ll know that someone from a specific business location visited your site and it could be one of half a dozen people that work for the company and surfaced in LinkedIn and Jigsaw. This is great information for an inside sales team to use.

It’s also very valuable information to turn over to a company such as ReachForce who is extremely proficient at identifying people within an organization that have the right roles for purchasing a specific product or service, and can obtain accurate contact information for those individuals.

With Marketing Automation, a little data mining and elbow grease it’s  possible to continually harvest for the funnel fresh names who just days before were anonymously browsing your site.

This excites me. If your site receives 10,000 visitors a month and only 2% fill out a web form or send an email identifying them that means 9800 visitors come and go every month without electing to identify themselves. Certainly, not all anonymous visitors are worth chasing down, but shouldn’t we be interested in proactively engaging with those who spent, say, over 1 minute on our site and who visited a certain set of pages? If just 30% of 9800 anonymous visitors met this test, we’d have an opportunity to identify and add up to 2,940 new names to our funnel every month using Marketing Automation and our own inside sales team, or a lead qualification service.

LeadForce1 is a relative new comer (2008) to the Marketing Automation field. What intrigues me about their product is how it evaluates a visitor’s behavior and activity to assess the visitor’s intent. When the visitor’s intent is known we have a better understanding of what stage in our funnel the visitor should be placed (and how we should interact with the contact).

I envision using a system like LeadForce1 to:

  1. Automate the process of identifying anonymous web visitors (this can’t be completely automated; it requires some human touch and decision making).
  2. Score or classify each contact based on intent and behavior
  3. Place the contact in the appropriate stage of my funnel
  4. Automatically initiate outbound marketing/sales tactics to that contact that are appropriate based on the funnel stage level.

Chasing down anonymous web visitors must be done tactfully, with a good heart, and in compliance with your site’s privacy policy.

I’m looking forward to hearing from practitioners who are using Marketing Automation systems to identify and connect with anonymous web visitors.


Nearing Quarter End: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

As I write this the calendar tells me there are 16 days until the end of March and the end of another fiscal quarter. For those responsible for revenue generation it is a tense time. It’s also a time for some healthy retrospection.

If your company didn’t experience a breakthrough in revenue performance, or even a healthy incremental increase, why not?

Could the lack of stellar performance be because different results were expected from doing the same old things in Sales and Marketing (only with fewer people and resources)? Isn’t expecting different results from doing the same thing the very definition of insanity that we all chuckle about?

Take a quick inventory. Call it an insanity test if you want, but if you answer no to more than two of the questions you will begin to see why revenue growth is caught in neutral.

  1. Are Marketing and Sales working from the same revenue-generation action plan?
  2. Is Marketing generating at least 24% of the revenue opportunities for the company?
  3. Is Marketing spending more of its budget on lead generation than on brand awareness?
  4. Are Sales and Marketing tactics aligned with the buyer’s journey rather than the company’s internal sales process?
  5. Are contacts and opportunities that don’t progress through the funnel being recycled systematically?
  6. Is the lag time of each stage in the sales funnel being measured and reported?
  7. Are Sales and Marketing in total agreement about when a prospective buyer should be handed over to Sales?
  8. Does the CEO, CFO, head of Marketing and head of Sales all know the conversion ratios for each stage of the sales funnel for the company’s major products?
  9. Does a Marketing manager attend Sales staff meetings?
  10. Does a Sales Manager attend Marketing staff meetings?

If you would have given the same “no” answers to these questions three months ago as you answered just now, welcome to the asylum. You’re expecting dramatic changes in revenue performance by doing the same things over and over.

Should Marketing Be Measured on Conversions?

Good question. Up until recently I thought the proposal conversion rate belonged to Sales and therefore Sales performance should be based, in part, on the rate of proposal wins.

After attending a FunnelAcademy(tm) workshop lead by Hugh MacFarlane, I have changed my way of thinking.

The percent of proposals  won is directly related to the quality of the buyers that marketing places into the revenue funnel and advances through the early stages of the funnel.

Yes,  Sales should still be measured, in part, on their effectiveness in closing deals, but so should Marketing.

What better way to put Markeing and Sales on the same page than to have both evaluated for the same key business metric?

Do You Know How Big Your Funnel Is?

Here are five fundamental questions that too few B2B sales or marketing execs can answer and as a result they are flying blind.

  1. What is your average (or mean)  deal deal size expected to be in 2009?
  2. How many deals-contracts-orders do you need to win to achieve your revenue objective?
  3. How many weeks does it take to convert a name into a deal?
  4. What percentage of your  names leave the sales funnel during this period (leakage)?
  5. How many names do you need to put into the funnel, at what time, in order to achieve your revenue objective?

I’d say 80% of the companies I speak with cannot answer more than one  of these questions.  Such room for improvement.

Deep in the Heart of the (Sales) Funnel

(This is a copy of a post I made on my other blog, One Riot – One Ranger)

When the going gets tough, the tough fine-tune their sales funnel processes for greater efficiency and effectiveness.

So many companies today find themselves trying desperately to succeed with fewer marketing and sales people and with less budget.  I like to think of this situation as having to step into the OK Corral with only four  bullets in my gun instead of six.  Every bullet has to hit its mark. No room for waste or ineffectiveness.

Marketers and sales people realize this, but it does raise two questions:

  1. What should we be doing more of?
  2. What should we be doing less of?

If a company’s sales funnel has been designed around the buyers’ journey, and if both Sales and Marketing have aligned their strategies and tactics to this journey then they will find the answers to both questions in the metrics that result from a well managed sales funnel.

If there isn’t alignment around the buyers’ journey then sales and marketing are likely working at cross purposes to one another and there is an unacceptable level of trial and error in the tactics.

Research* has proven that companies who have aligned their marketing and sales activities to the buyer’s journey win 38% more of their proposals, lose 36% fewer customers each each year and grow 5.4 points of growth more than companies who aren’t aligned.

Not all sales funnel processes are equal. Most are too simplistic or are centered on the seller’s journey not the buyers’ journey.  A rock-solid funnel model factors in lag, leakage, and recycling–there’s nothing “simple” about the dynamics of a funnel.

There is a way to mine the  sales funnel expertise of major corporations around the world. You simply need to plug into the minds that developed the processes for these global brands and built the tools to support the processes.  That is easy.  The world’s leading authorities on sales funnel management and performance are at MathMarketing. They now offer black belt workshops  that teach companies and marketers how to do this.  Known as the Funnel Academy(tm), these workshops are now available in the U.S. CEO’s should make these programs  mandatory for every B2B marketer and sales manager. For that matter the CEO’s should participate, too.  This is the best B2B marketing training on the planet.