understanding how the sales funnel & inbound marketing generate leads
Post on 12-Apr-2017
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Kennedy Andersson AB www.kennedyandersson.com 1
The sales Funnel &
Kennedy Andersson AB www.kennedyandersson.com 2
The sales funnel
The buyers journey across all industries and segments has evolved over recent years with the proliferation of the Internet.
According to Google research, Business-to-Business (B2B) researchers conduct an average of 12 searches before they
engage with a specific brands website. There can be between 7 12 touch points with a seller before a contact turns into a
qualified lead, according to research from Walker Sands. All of which means that companies have to try to be in front of the
buyer over a lengthy sales cycle.
If you add to this environment multiple new communication channels, an increasing number of mobile devices and the
rising influence of a new generation of consumers, its no wonder that suppliers do not know where to start. Most
companies are in a crowded marketplace, and need to assess how they can stand out.
Whether you are a start-up, giving up, or ripe for change, all businesses can benefit from a better understanding of their
customers and an appreciation of where and how they should be present during the different stages of the buying process.
If you want to upgrade your companys ability to get found, get leads and close sales, then this guide should open up your
mind to consider all the elements of a comprehensive inbound marketing programme.
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Our aim is to help you understand the importance of the sales funnel and how to use content and inbound marketing
through the different buying stages to close a sale. `
In this e-guide we cover:
1. The Sales Funnel
2. The Sales Cycle
3. Inbound marketing methodology
4. Content marketing
5. How to nurture leads along the sales funnel
6. Practical next steps
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The sales process for most industries is complex and difficult to control. The increase in the numbers of B2B buyers self
researching, it is important that your business is being found because of great online content that helps the buyers in their
decision making process.
With so many touch points now in the sales process the sales cycle is becoming longer:
o Budgets are tighter so money needs to go further
o Fear of making a bad decision by those involved
o Buyers have more options to choose from
o More stakeholders involved so different agendas and an increased complexity
o Reaching a consensus is a challenge with more people involved
o Customers want to interact differently, so you cannot reach them all in the same way
Because of these variables and the unknowns, it pays for the sales team to approach any sales call prepared with the
understanding that the customer has already done extensive research. Suppliers today need to convince multiple people in
an organisation, each having their own priorities and agendas.
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1. The Sales Funnel
We all know trying to lead an uncertain customer through the sales funnel, usually ends up with failure in either a delayed
or defeated selling process. Prematurely presenting a solution to a customer who does not identify with the problem is a
recipe for disaster.
The idea of the funnel is that the number of leads grows
smaller as they move down the funnel. At the top of the
funnel (TOFU), there are many people who you will want
to make aware of your brand. The middle of the funnel
(MOFU) is smaller, as there are less people who would
actually consider buying from you, and the bottom of the
funnel (BOFU) is even smaller, as you narrow down the
number of people who are in a position to buy from you.
MQL = Marketing Qualified Lead SQL = Sales Qualified Lead
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Sales funnel and conversions - Using the conversion estimates from SiriusDecisions you would need 1000 website visitors to make 10 sales (see below).
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2. The sales cycle.
In a recent survey, 74% of business buyers told Forrester they conduct more than half of their research online before
making an offline purchase.
There are typically a number of obstacles to closing a sale:
1. The decision challenge does the buyer have a full and robust decision-making process in place to know how to
evaluate what you are offering?
2. Switching process it is common to have customers that do not buy because they are unsure about the change
process of switching suppliers, the potential extra time, costs, resources, new technology, etc.
3. The final challenge is value is the buyer able to measure the impact of your solution, the added value that it drives?
Usually a buyer first learns about something new on offer from vendors via peers or colleagues. The second most popular
source of information is from news publications and blogs, followed by search engines and social media. Overall, buyers
trust information from their peers and other credible third parties more than anything that they hear directly from the
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What are the ways that inbound marketing can shorten the sales cycle?
1) Engage earlier in the process with customers by providing useful information to establish credibility
2) Build trust by providing value rather than always selling
3) Be visible and proactive online when they are searching using your content to attract them
4) Think about your offering as a solution to a problem
5) Give thought to the language that they would use to search on the problem
6) Align marketing messages with the buyers journey
7) Try to remain top of mind when they are at the decision making stage by establishing a role as thought leader in
your sector or business segment
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3. Inbound Marketing methodology Inbound marketing helps leads find you by educating your audience instead
of selling to them. Content marketing is the fuel for the inbound engine.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of B2B marketers are
creating more content than they did one year ago.
By creating engaging content you'll be attracting a larger audience to your
site, so it's important to create a system to qualify and nurture potential
prospects down the funnel taking them through the stages of Attract,
Convert, Close and Delight. A potential customer will start out as a Stranger
and as your nurture the relationship they move to a Lead, then to a
Customer as you close a sale and then as a Promoter to let other buyers
know what a great product or service you have.
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4. Content Marketing
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing content that is educational,
relevant and consistent to attract and retain a particular target audience. It can help you drive traffic and then engage with
those leads as your nurture them through the sales funnel. Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, content
marketing should be part of your marketing strategy.
Your content marketing can take many forms:
o Social media marketing through your posts and comments
o SEO - Search engines reward businesses that publish quality content
o PR - Successful PR strategies are those that address issues readers are looking to solve
o PPC - For PPC to work, you need great content to convert a visitor
o Inbound marketing blogging, emails, etc.
Content marketing is an on-going process to attract and retain customers, to help you grow as a business organically. It is an
approach where you are educating your customers rather than trying to sell to them.
The following chart is from Econsultancy and gives an overview of the key elements of content marketing:
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To connect your content to your buyers you should map out how your customers buy (Buyers Journey). Typically this is not
a linear process and prospects may move around the funnel. But, as they move closer to the bottom of the funnel what
they wants becomes more focused.
1. Buyer Stage at what stage is
the lead at from Aware to Decision?
2. What information needs do they have and how are they researching the subject?
3. For this type of buyer
persona, do they have a preferred format to digest the content?
4. Depending on the stage they
are at in the buying journey you will include certain keywords
AWARENESS CONSIDERATION DECISION
Research & Info Needs
Have realized and expressed symptoms of a potential prob-lem or opportunity
Research focused on vendor neutral 3rd party information around identifying problems or symptoms