B2B MARKETING GUIDE

Combining Sales &
Marketing Funnels

Overview

The goal of every business is to make sales, no matter the industry.Sales are the engine that a company uses to move forward and grow. In B2B and manufacturing, sales can come in many different forms; you have supply sales, distribution sales, and service sales. However, while the goal is obvious, the path to success is the part that becomes unclear. Due to the numerous sales types, you must be creative when creating a sales strategy. How does a business make sales? With a sales team. And how does a sales team find the people that would be interested in buying? With marketing. So, how can a manufacturing business connect the two, sales and marketing, to work in tandem to be efficient and effective in helping the company grow? This paper will discuss the benefits of connecting sales and marketing and the process of doing so.

So, what are the benefits of bringing together sales and marketing? Well, the first benefit is better communication. Better communication leads to a better understanding on both sides, creating greater efficiency and productivity. Streamlining processes means higher cost savings and returns. Historically, sales and marketing have always had the same goal... but how they achieve this goal of growing the

business has differed. Sales look to make quotas and close deals, while marketing looks to grow the brand andexpand the company’s reach to new sales opportunities. When sales and marketing teams are brought together to understand both sides of a sale, it will inevitably create better cohesion. When marketing understands the sales side, it can lead to more lead conversions and shorter sales cycles. When sales understand marketing, they can better understand the customer.

How can a business connect the two sides? Well, it’s more than just having the sales and marketing teams sit down for a meeting to discuss. Luckily, in the modern age, plenty of tools can help businesses through this process—one of the leading and most effective technologies is an integrated CRM or customer relationship management. A CRM is where your marketing and sales teams will live. With a CRM, the sales team can convert on sales, track leads, and manage their process. For marketing, a CRM allows them to run and manage campaigns, track the customer journey, and reach the customer at their touch points to drive leads to the sales team. Some of the top CRMs in the industry right now are Salesforce, Hubspot, and ZOHO, to name a few.

Seven-Step Process

Define Goals

Create Personas

Outline Customer Journey

Launch CRM

Nurture Leads

Convert Mqls Into Sqls

Increase Customer Loyalty

Developing a Persona

The Basics

Consider the following traits: age, occupation, income, location, status, and characteristics. How could these factors impact their decision-making?

About

How long have they been in the field? What’s their educational background, any special interests or passions?

Goals

Would they like to be promoted to leadership, become a mentor, reduce lead times, or get a new certification?

Pain Points

What are some limited factors? Do they struggle to keep up with new technology, have limitd resources, tight deadlines? How could your product/service help?

Knowing Your Audience

After defining your goals, the next step is knowing and understanding your audience or ideal customer profile.The critical step in this process is persona development. This means understanding the ideal person you are looking to sell to. Considering manufacturing is primarily B2B, some might think defining a persona would be fairly straightforward. However, sometimes, the people you have to convince are not the people who will make the final decision. Because of this, your business will have to do in-depth research on all targets that have a role in purchasing decisions—for instance, researching geographically where the potential customer is located within the U.S. or the world.
This doesn’t necessarily mean by location like state or city but could be by the type of area they live in. Do they live in the suburbs or the country, or do they live in a house or apartment? When defining a customer, narrowing it down as far as possible without missing potential customers is crucial. Research will also have to be done on customer

demographics. Things like age, gender, education, average household Income, etc. Find the groupings that statistically define them as a person(s) and how likely they are to purchase the product or service. The next piece of research that needs to be done is on psychographics, i.e., how the potential customer thinks. Things like their values, what they like, what they dislike, even so far as other places they like shopping. All of this research is combined to create a customer persona. It is important to note that a business can have several different personas depending on the customer base and return on research, especially in manufacturing. You should try to keep them under 4-5, though, remember you can’t be everything to everyone.

The importance of persona development is to know who a business is talking to. This is not only important for marketing but also for sales. Once a customer persona is defined, the message can be coordinated to speak directly to that audience. This allows you to connect with them on a much deeper level as you know where the potential customer is and what they value the most. Persona development provides focus. This focus is essential because not everyone can be addressed at once. For example, a large steel supplier wants to develop their next strategy. There are steel

toolmakers that could be interested in buying steel in both Illinois and Wisconsin. The company could spread a wide net and target people in both states. However, that will cost much more money with much more uncertainty. The business needs to find a way to focus their efforts to get a bigger bang for their buck (ROI). Instead of going after both Illinois and Wisconsin, they find in their research that six steel toolmakers in Wisconsin produce most of their products with high-speed steel. From this information, they can create their persona and tailor their messaging to these steel toolmakers looking for high-speed steel. Maybe they could focus on machine shop owners who offer and sell a large selection of parts for saws and lathes. While this is an example, it shows the importance of focusing on the right things to discover how it can save money and build confidence in the marketing and sales efforts.

An excellent way to test for proper focus is through the “five whys method.” When trying to solve a problem or come up with a solid solution, ask why five times. If the “why” can be answered five times, then the source of the reasoning has been found. For example, the “why method” could be used to test the strategy in the previous example.

Case Study

A Steel Supplier Needs to Focus Efforts

Q: Why won’t we be targeting as many people?
A: To save money.

Q: Why will it save the company money?
A: We are going to target fewer people and focus our efforts
on improving our return.

Q: Why won’t we be targeting as many people?
A: We are going to focus on six steel toolmakers in Wisconsin

Q: Why are we only focusing on six steel toolmakers in WI?
A: We are going to focus on six steel toolmakers in Wisconsin

Q: Why are we targeting them now?
A: They may want a large-scale steel supplier to diversify
their supply to increase their high-speed steel part
production reliability.

Mapping the Customer Journey

After developing personas, the next step is to define thecustomer journey. This process involves mapping out each step of the customer’s process, from the time they hear about the business to the time they become a customer, all the way up until they stop being a customer. The first step is to decide how you will initially reach the potential customer. This could be through targeted advertising on social media or a search engine. The next step is determining what you want the customer to do. Do you want them to view an advertisement and visit the company website, or should they be directed to a product or service? Whatever it is, some sort of call to action should be used to get the potential customer interacting and learning about your business.

Funnel Alignment

Overlapping Sales and Marketing Funnels

Aligning sales and marketing teams is more seamless than you might think, seeing as how closely their funnels align to one another.

Following this, the potential customer should continue to be targeted with remarketing ads to ensure the company is top of mind. This messaging should be based on the previously defined personas. Now that the customer has been educated on who your company is and what you do, the next best step is to try to contact them directly. The key to this is that the customer needs to provide information, such as an email address. This could be done through something like signing up for a newsletter or direct mail updates. If they provide the proper information, you should continue to reach them with remarketing and direct communication.

These leads should be driven towards the sales team to hopefully close on sales. Even though this is a rough overview of creating a customer journey, it shows the importance of the journey and how it can improve leads. Depending on the business and strategy, there can be several tactics to reach the customer at a number of different touchpoints and moments in the customer journey. The mapping process is also referred to as a sales funnel or a marketing funnel. While a sales and marketing funnel are very similar, the two have some distinct differences.

When bringing together sales and marketing, you are combining the two funnels. The main point of combining the two is to convert potential customers into sales at a higher rate. Looking at both funnels, some similar sections appear, and even some sections support each other. Walking through it, you have the top of the funnel, awareness. For the steel supplier, this could be after a toolmaker has seen ads for the supplier. You have interest, evaluation, and consideration in the middle of the funnel. At this point, the toolmaker has looked into products and pricing or has even ordered a sample. You then have conversion and sale, which you don’t get to without negotiation and decision. For the steel supplier, the toolmaker is in contact with a salesperson or representative and is ready to purchase or has already purchased. Finally, at the bottom of the funnel, you have loyalty, which leads to renewal or repurchase and then, ultimately, advocacy. At this point, the toolmaker has returned and made further purchases and may have recommended the supplier to other shops. Even in a basic exercise of comparing the two standard funnels, we can see how having the marketing and sales team on the same page is beneficial. The easiest way you can manage it all is with a CRM.

Using a CRM

As previously mentioned, a CRM allows the sales team to convert on sales, track leads, and manage their process. Marketing teams utilize CRMs to run and manage campaigns, track the customer journey, and reach the customer at their touch points, ultimately driving leads to the sales team. The concise definition of a CRM is that it’s a tool that lets you store customer data, identify sales opportunities and leads, manage marketing campaigns, and track service requests. The CRM will help move potential customers down the combined funnel as it’s where your marketing and sales teams, strategies, or funnels will live. The CRM will store the data it gets from customers, allowing you to automate messages from the sales force and send customers marketing messages. It can also help identify issues within the sales funnel. Maybe you notice a drop-off of people signing up for the newsletter. Your messaging could be a problem; you may want to consider updating it. The CRM’s job is to turn leads into MQLs or marketing-qualified leads. Being diligent with your CRM is especially important for manufacturing companies as it’s not like selling sunglasses, where you have many opportunities to find customers inside large businesses.

Validating MQLS

An MQL is based on persona development combined with the channels they have interacted with or the marketing channels they have come from. An MQL is a lead that has indicated an interest in your company or product. Maybe a manufacturing company requested product information or a quote. At this point, they are more likely to purchase or decide to move forward.

Companies can have differing definitions of an MQL based on how their team defines them. However, it is crucial to make a solid distinction so your marketing team is sending the leads most likely to convert to the sales team.

This relationship is created through quality communication, which was discussed earlier. To define MQLs, you need to decide what actions the customer makes that define them as a customer more likely to purchase. Was it that they interacted with a specific campaign or piece of marketing? Is it that they are within your target audience or represent your persona? Are they members of your mailing list or subscribe to your weekly newsletter? These questions will help you weed through the clutter and make your sales team more efficient.

Nurturing Leads

Lead nurturing comes after you validate an MQL. It is the process of creating a relationship with the customer. Whether that comes from the sales team or your marketing, it is vital to maintain lead nurturing throughout the entire customer journey. The most substantial lead nurturing will come directly from your sales team. This can be done through automated approaches. For example, when a person signs up for a newsletter, they receive an automated message from a salesperson asking if they have any questions. Throughout their journey, they should be targeted with email reminders or opportunities. Examples of opportunities include deals, promotions, services, or sales contacts.

In the steel supplier example, long-term contracts take a lot of nurturing; it’s not like buying a new pair of shoes. Salespersons are heavily involved, especially when selling steel, as they are the ones who make and confirm the deal. With steel, the buyer will require much information regarding the steel’s qualities and uses. They will also need information about pricing and order size. Because of this, they will have to be connected with a salesperson or a representative and

likely a salesperson dedicated to that potential customer. Using a CRM, you can set up automated messages from that specific salesperson, so when the customer is ready to make a purchase, they have a trusted point of contact. This sort of thing can be set up in several different ways depending on the defined customer journey and MQL definition. Lead nurturing can also be used in manufacturing after purchasing a sample product or requesting more information. Tools like Hubspot, Pardot, and ZOHO are good for setting up advanced workflows and automated messages to move the customer down the funnel.

It’s essential to stay in front of the MQL because they will always be your strongest leads in the early stages of the funnel. It’s also important to stay top of mind for the customer. You don’t want them to go and find a competitor because you didn’t try hard enough to convince them. You want your messaging to solve their issues, and if you’re the company that they think of to solve their problems, then you want to maintain that until they become a Sales Qualified Lead or SQL.

Lead Nurturing Workflow

The SQL Handoff

An SQL is similar to an MQL, but the sales team has vetted or communicated with the prospect somehow and decided to pursue the possible business. It is someone who, like an MQL, has interacted with the business but now has been identified by the sales team with an intent to purchase. A significant difference between an MQL and a SQL is usually the intent or ability to buy. When an MQL turns into an SQL, it is determined by the sales team after the MQL handoff. A few ways

a sales team could make this determination could be: Analytics. Using your website analytics, you can see what site pages they’ve visited and interacted with. CRM. You can track what sort of marketing messaging they have interacted with. Persona. Is this the kind of customer you have been targeting? Timing. Are they ready to buy?

Once an SQL has been identified, the sales and marketing team will work in tandem to push this potential customer toward the final purchase. They should develop a game plan so they are on the same page with how they are interacting with the customer. Bombarding the customer could make them agitated and therefore uninterested. You want to make the process easy for them. Always keep in mind they could be looking at other options; you don’t want them to move on to another company due to an overly extensive or confusing process. The marketing and sales teams need to be on the same page regarding what the customer knows. This transitional phase is made possible through the use of a CRM. It allows your two teams to stay organized and have the answers to crucial questions regarding the customer. Questions like, what information have we already provided? Are they ready to buy, or do they need to discuss with a sales representative? Having the answers to these questions makes the customer’s journey easier and moves towards a sale faster.

Value of Customer Loyalty

We’ve talked a lot about the customer journey and how the customer will engage with your brand, but other than landing the conversion, why is it important? If you have good products, what does it matter? The culmination of the customer journey and engagement is CX or customer experience, and it’s more important now than ever. Amidst ongoing industry advancements and the added challenges brought about by the pandemic, consumers increasingly demand quicker production and expedited shipping, exerting more significant pressure on businesses to meet these expectations. Manufacturing companies are expected to have advanced services such as fast shipping, online ordering, in-depth websites, and on-demand customer service. You have to guarantee a quality customer experience because that keeps customers returning. In a competitive market space, people have no issue finding other suppliers.
A good example is our steel supplier scenario, but looking at it from the toolmaker’s perspective. There are hundreds of steel suppliers, but they always go back to the same one. Why? Because they provide a quality product, yes, but it’s also because of their service.

Maybe they’re fast, or the sales team is friendly. Perhaps they have a straightforward website and fast shipping. The service is just as important, if not more important, than the product itself. Imagine this toolmaker went to their favored steel supplier and got their regular steel order, but they received it later than expected, and the customer service was unhelpful. Would they be as likely to return to that same supplier next month? Probably not; they would try another steel supplier. That steel supplier has just lost the toolmaker’s customer loyalty and given it to another business. It’s the same in every industry; customer loyalty is crucial to success. You need customer loyalty to grow your business. You need to have customers returning to grow. Yes, you could continue to gain business, but it will just be a revolving door of new customers coming and going. That’s not growth; that is a flat line. It’s also a dangerous game to play. What happens when the new customers stop coming in? What every business needs is to build customer loyalty. Some customers buy more frequently, while others only buy a few times. Ideally, all customers will keep coming back, buying more, and increasing their LifeTime Value (LTV).

LTV is the estimated total revenue a customer will provide throughout their time as a customer. This can vary depending on the industry and can be more crucial for some than others. It is especially important for manufacturing companies that work based on contracts. To calculate LTV, you need to know the average purchase value of a customer. You also need to know the average length of time a customer will remain a customer. By multiplying these two values, you can estimate the total revenue of the customer. Using the steel supplier as an example again, if they have a customer who wants to buy $500 worth of product every other month and based on previous experience, customers like this usually purchase a year’s worth of product. This customer would have an LTV of $3000.

Having a quality CX can increase your LTV. If you have a quality CX, you can more likely retain customers. You may even entice them to increase their average purchase value. Maybe on their first purchase, they only purchase a small amount to test the experience, but because of the CX, they come back to purchase more. Increasing either variable in the equation with a quality CX will increase LTV.

Evolving

Now that the sales and marketing teams are in sync and working together to drive and convert leads. They now understand what each side is doing and have a solid process in place. The next step for the two teams is to prepare for evolution. What does it mean to evolve within a CRM? Taking what you have learned so far, analyze the data you have gained, discuss the strength of your current market, identify new markets you may want to move into, and open up to new technologies that may be emerging.

Working in a CRM and connecting a sales and marketing team is not a static solution. It should constantly be tweaked to avoid missed opportunities. Just as research was done the first time around, research should continue to develop new strategies and targeted demographics. You may also find that once your original strategy is implemented, it’s not performing as expected. You may have discovered some hiccups in your customer journey or may find that your sales team received some feedback from a client that is making things difficult. These are the sorts of things that force/ enable you to evolve. In terms of technologies that are improving this process, it’s not exactly surprising to say AI is one of them.

AI in Sales & Marketing

  • Lead Assessment
  • Forecast Customer Lifetime
  • Scheduling Automation
  • Performance Analysis
  • Lead Assessment
  • Forecast Customer Lifetime
  • Scheduling Automation
  • Performance Analysis

Pros of AI in CRM

  • Improved Decision-Making: An AI can analyze large amounts of data in a short amount of time and can identify patterns that may have been overlooked. This advanced analysis can lead to more informed decisions.
  • Safer Data Management: With AI’s ability to analyze data efficiently, it can help you keep it all organized as well as segment customers.
  • Easier Development: AI can help in the development of workflows as well as basic coding if necessary.
  • Improves Sales Performance: AI can support the sales forces in customer communication and updating sales data.
  • Customer Engagement: AI can improve customer engagement by creating personalized recommendations based on customer feedback.

About

Concept Co. is a business growth agency, and we offer a unique balance between brand, marketing, and sales. We have expertise in several different industries in both B2B and B2C. We are a small team, and we like to get our hands dirty getting fully involved in your business. We are made up of programmers, creatives, and storytellers ready to help your business succeed. If the content of this white paper is something you would be interested in implementing into your business, we can help.

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