Marketing can sometimes feel like the most under-appreciated function in a company. Many CEOs out there just don’t get marketing. As a result, they don’t think of marketers as people who help run the business or greatly impact the sales process.
Of course the truth is very different, but such perceptions are often fueled by some marketers being too conservative about taking a greater level of ownership throughout the sales funnel. In today’s crazy demand gen world, the line between sales and marketing has become increasingly blurred. Random or generic acts of marketing don’t cut it anymore (if they ever did); as a marketer, you need to be working strategically and together with other departments – particularly, but not exclusively, sales – to provide maximum value.
That’s where “full-funnel marketing” comes in. It’s a way of approaching your work by taking responsibility for the entire sales pipeline, rather than simply the top or middle of the funnel. By embracing revenue responsibility, marketing aligns its goals with sales so you can work together to engage, nurture, and close more prospects.
But although some organizations are already geared up for full-funnel marketing, for others the approach may seem foreign. It’s your job to help your CEO (among others) understand why you’re taking on a greater level of ownership and approaching marketing this way.
People say, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” There are certain questions your CEO should be asking you, but without an understanding of full-funnel marketing, they probably won’t know what to ask.
Be proactive. Be the first person to provide the information to them. Prove your value and clarify the importance of full-funnel marketing by preparing to answer these six questions for your CEO.
1. What problem are you solving?
B2B marketing guru Matt Heinz has a great parable about selling drills.
Say your customer is building a simple birdhouse, and they need to attach two pieces of wood together. What they care about is the birdhouse and figuring out how to finish it. Their problem is that they don’t know how to do it.
Rather than saying, “Hey! You need this drill! It will finish that house,” you need to approach your customer with a solution to their problem: “You know what those two pieces of wood need? A hole. If you had a hole, you could screw them together. And you know what? I have a tool that makes a hole.”
Sell the hole, not the drill.
Too often, marketing and sales teams try to cut straight to the product demo. But in that moment, your customers don’t care about your products. In fact, they might not even know what your product is at all. What they do know about, what they really care about, are their own problems. If you want to close more deals, you have to remember that you aren’t selling a product: You’re selling an answer to someone’s problem.
Take the time to consider exactly what problem your business solves, and build your marketing and sales strategy around that solution.
2. Who Is Your Target Customer? Why?
In order to generate more qualified leads, you’ll need to create a clear customer profile.
Do the research. Who are you trying to sell a solution to? Why?
You can’t solve anyone’s problem if you don’t know what it is! Take the time to find out what your customers care about, who or what influences them, and where they get their information from. A comprehensive understanding of what motivates your target customers will enable you to meet them wherever they are in the buying journey and engage with them in a meaningful way.
3. What Is Your Sales Process?
When you understand who your customer is at their core, and what solution you’re providing for their problems, you can then map out a process for engaging with them at the time when they are most likely to buy.
How much of your work is inbound? When does marketing hand off the lead to sales for an outbound approach? Instead of winging it, there needs to be a process in place for walking your prospect from point A to B to C.
Journey mapping will help marketing and sales to treat each stage distinctly, and you’ll be able to align your goals with the prospect’s needs to get a commitment at the end of the day.
4. Who Is Selling For You? How are you managing them and measuring their work?
Similar to developing a deep understanding of your customer’s motivations, you need to figure out what motivates the team around you. Whether it be an incentive program or something intangible, use the knowledge to help manage their work and encourage them along the way.
A big part of this is measuring their success. You need proof that your team’s efforts are impacting the bottom line. What is the lifetime value of your customer? What did it cost to acquire them? How are your inbound marketing efforts (content, social media, website traffic) converting? It’s not just about “closing” – measuring your results is just as important.
5. How Are You Going to Generate Leads?
An understanding of how you’ll generate leads and what your goals are is paramount – in particular because full-funnel marketing is very likely to decrease the volume of leads you generate. If your CEO is used to volume, they might be disappointed unless you can explain what’s happening instead.
It’s not enough to generate a lot of leads. In fact, having too many leads can sometimes create problems of its own. They need to be high quality. Why generate 500 leads and close two percent if you can cut back to 100 leads, but close 20 percent? In that scenario you’ve doubled closed deals, from 10 accounts to 20, with only a fraction of the work.
If you want to generate fewer, stronger leads, consider account-based marketing.
ABM helps you change the focus of your lead generation efforts in order to make them more targeted, personalized, and therefore, more likely to succeed.
6. How Are You Going to Decrease Acquisition Costs Over Time?
It’s worthwhile to understand your cost per lead. But even more effective is understanding your cost per sale. If you can combine your sales and marketing efforts to evaluate the total cost of acquiring a deal, you’ll better understand how marketing can be more effective through sales enablement.
Sales enablement is a marketing function that can decrease acquisition costs and boost productivity by giving your sales team the best possible tools for success. Using content, technology, systems, and defined processes, marketing can increase the opportunities for sales to convert leads into sales.
Great full-funnel marketers are responsible for the entire pipeline. They take revenue responsibility seriously, treat themselves like a profit center, and embrace what it means to support every stage of the buying journey and sales process.
But this concept might be totally foreign to your CEO. If yours isn’t asking you these six questions, it’s simply because they don’t yet understand they should be. Do the heavy-lifting on their behalf, and prepare the answers yourself.
Image from Unsplash on Pixabay | CC0 Public Domain