Find and fix those leaks in your sales and marketing funnel
Marketing and sales alignment is all about creating a flawless customer journey that guides prospects through each stage of the marketing and sales funnel. It may sound simple enough, but this can be incredibly hard to pull off.
Getting it right requires a well planned approach for the top, middle and bottom of your funnel. As well as knowing how you’re going to transfer prospects from one stage to the next. Probably the most challenging of all, it requires sales and marketing to work closely together and be completely aligned.
Sales funnels are rarely perfect from the get go. In fact, they’re usually the result of years of testing, learning and continuous polishing. In this post, we’ll explore the tell-tale signs that you can use to recognise issues in your funnel. We’ll also offer some recommendations for how you can correct these issues and build a smoother path to acquire.
Signs you’ve got leaks in your sales funnel
Low or falling conversions at the top of funnel
This is an obvious one. For leads to progress through the funnel they first have to get into it. Most organisations will generate leads a number of different ways, through their website, by going to events or conducting outreach, to list just a few.
If the number of leads you’re creating drops away, or wasn’t high enough to begin with, then increasing the number of leads you’re generating, without compromising the standard of those leads, should be your first priority. It's also worth reviewing all your possible lead sources and ensuring that all leads are actually entering the funnel process.
Leads that aren’t being followed up on
Every lead is an opportunity. But on average, 80% of leads drop into the gap between marketing and sales, never to be followed up on. The move between marketing and sales is a key pinch point and one that needs to be as smooth and reliable as possible if you want to deliver consistent results.
Bottlenecks in the funnel
One of the useful things about the sales funnel model is that it’s sequential, provided you have a subdivided sales pipeline, which means with a bit of analysis you can quite easily identify where issues are. You basically look for the points in the process where leads aren’t developing from one stage to the next.
Continuously monitoring conversion rates from one stage to the next is a good method for you to identify issues and correct them. You should also be observing overall conversion rates on an ongoing basis. If those rates start to fall, it’s time to find those problems and resolve them.
Inaccurate sales forecasts and missed targets
Sales forecasts aren’t always bang on the money. But your forecasts must be, overall, in line with performance. If you’re continuously overestimating your sales or not reaching your targets, that’s a signal that you need to take a look at the buyer journey and your forecasting methodology.
Why have you got leaks in your sales funnel?
If any of these issues sound familiar to you, you’re probably wondering what’s triggering them. Here are a few potential culprits.
Your value proposition is no longer relevant
Your value proposition is the basis of your entire business and especially your marketing and sales. If it’s not obvious, specific or relevant enough to your customer and their priorities, that can sabotage all of your marketing and sales work.
You’re chasing the wrong metrics
The KPIs you set your team will determine how they spend their time and marketing budget. Those metrics ought to be in line with what has proven to generate revenue, ie. website inquiries, event attendees and successful sales follow ups. Metrics like social followers or ad impressions are nice to have, but they don’t actually impact the bottom line and should be a secondary priority.
Marketing and sales aren’t aligned
Marketing and sales need to be on the same page. Crucially, they both need to have the same definition for what establishes a quality lead for the business. Without this, marketing can end up casting the net too wide, providing sales with leads that aren’t worth following up on.
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The processes that control how marketing and sales interact also need to be mapped out and documented. Key transitions such as the sales hands-off are instances where leads are often dropped. Just improving that one point in the funnel can have a big impact on overall conversions.
Poor processes and sales management
The overall processes for lead qualification and management (usually taking place in some kind of CRM) should be distinctly defined. A CRM can be a greatly powerful tool, but only if the data stored in it is meticulously maintained. Housekeeping tasks like keeping customer records up-to-date, logging interactions and ensuring that lost deals are marked as closed massively increase the value of your customer data.
How can you fix it?
You’ve identified the problem, you understand the reason. Now you need to fix it. Here are a few ideas to help you deal with a leaky funnel.
Address the scope of the issue
If you’re a business with multiple locations or teams, start off by finding out whether the problem is specific or general. If the problem is isolated to one group of people or one rep, then you should work with those people to help improve their performance. If it’s more wide-spread, you need to look at your entire sales and marketing activity.
Review your value proposition
As mentioned earlier, your value proposition is integral to your entire lead generation process. It’s crucial to review it periodically to check it’s still aligned with your customer’s requirements. Find out how to review your value proposition.
Address blockages in the funnel
By analysing where in the funnel your leads are falling off, you can identify problem areas. Once you’ve identified them, you need to review the activity in that part of the funnel and ask yourself what’s missing.
Focus on the customer experience. What information would people be looking for at that point in the decision-making process? What contact would they be grateful for from your business? What are your current processes for that point in the funnel and are they aligned with your customer's needs?
Bring sales and marketing into closer alignment
Marketing and sales need to have shared goals and a agreement around how they will work together to achieve those goals. Before you get caught up in looking at the process, look at the basics: what is the definition of a quality lead for our business? How many leads do we need to generate in order to meet our sales targets? Who is responsible for what?
Once you’ve answered these questions and got both teams to dedicate themselves to the answers, then you can look at the processes that govern how teams will work together.
Building a reliable sales pipeline is an reoccurring process that requires constant monitoring and adaptation. Customer behaviour changes over time, what worked last year won’t work . By analysing your overall conversion rates you can identify problem areas and correct them. This process of continual refinement will give you a better idea of what works and what doesn’t and make sure that you’re not wasting time and effort in tactics that aren’t delivering.
Download our guide, Making Marketing ROI Work For Your Business, for a deep dive on how you can measure your measure Marketing ROI to improve the effectiveness of your sales and marketing.