Marketing Automation and the Sales Funnel

By | July 31, 2012

When it comes to marketing, I absolutely love talking about the various ways that companies can increase awareness of their products & services and then generate leads. If you are a services provider, I’m sure you do as well.

But the bottom line is this — we can’t just stop at the awareness or lead-generation stages. Our marketing efforts (whether for ourselves or for our customers) must help the company to close more sales.

Today, I’d like to chat about how a marketing automation approach can be use to help companies convert more of those inquiries and leads that you are generating into actual sales… and create more business overall for you!

Always Think of The Funnel

Oh, the sales funnel. It all starts with the top – the largest ring – the target market. And then it narrows down from there as the true leads come out of that target market. Then those leads are worked, some staying put as that funnel narrows, becoming sales.

But where does marketing automation fit into the sales funnel? At what point does the automated system kick in and help make that sales funnel work?

Here is one of my favorite charts that helps to demonstrate this process:

Image from interlinkONE: Sales Funnel and Marketing Automation

Copyright 2012 interlinkONE: ilinkONE V8 Automates your Marketing and Drives Leads

At the top of the funnel is that target market. This is the group of people you know you have a product or service that can be a benefit to.

You set up your campaign, choosing the various channels (email, social media, direct mail, phone, etc.) you wish to reach your market through, all the while ensuring that the messages remain consistent across all channels.

Each of these messages include a call to action and have personalized landing pages and direct mail as your prospects respond.

Measuring and Following Up

With automated marketing systems, your efforts across all channels are tracked and data is compiled. This data is useful for analyzing the current campaign and future campaign efforts.

But more importantly, the automated marketing allows for personalized responses to go back out to these new leads, warming them up for the sales team.

What warms up the leads is the nurturing through a multi-touch response campaign. Depending on the response mechanism used by the prospect, the next automated contact will be initiated. Perhaps the next contact will be an e-newsletter. Or perhaps it will be a personalized email with a personal URL. Or it could be a direct mailer. Each of these events are automated and each lead actually encounters multiple contacts.

Putting Data in a Centralized Location for the Sales Reps

Throughout those contacts, all data is still being tracked and compiled. The sales team is being kept in the loop and even assigned tasks that would fall in line with the automated system.

Perhaps a prospect has clicked on a personalized URL that indicates an interest in further information. The sales team will know about each contact and what the lead is looking to find out so when that phone call is made, all of the ground work has already been laid.

Treating New Sales to Excellent Customer Service

Once the sales have been made, its vital that the new customer’s experience getting started is a good one.

At that point, the customer service department can move in to help ensure a terrific customer experience. How can you help to play a role in that regard as the service provider?  Well, a marketing automation solution can often be responsible for ensuring key touch points (such as Welcome emails, Getting Started emails, Contact Information notices, etc.), are delivered on time — and in the format that the person preferred to receive messages throughout the lead process.

Succeeding with Marketing Automation Can Lead to Long-Term Success

From the top of the sales funnel to the bottom, marketing automation helps to ensure a marketing campaign is consistent, efficient and capable of being analyzed for the benefit of future campaigns.

If you can deliver those types of end-to-end solutions for customers or your own sales team, you will certainly put yourself in a position to reap long-term benefits!

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2 thoughts on “Marketing Automation and the Sales Funnel

  1. Joe Manos

    Great post John.

    One area that I feel is critical for marketers success is the development of a very tight Ideal Customer Profile and the rating of each opportunity created through marketing activities.

    That step must be taken before we start our marketing activities or we are going to find out we have created potential opportunities that consume precious sales time that will never convert to revenue opportunities.

    If all marketers start with the development of a very tight Ideal Customer Profile they will find that they will reduce wasted marketing touches on prospects that will never buy.

    This improves the overall flow of the sales funnel and the overall days to sale as well.

    Keep up the great work.

  2. John Foley Post author

    Joe,
    Thank you for the kind words and for leaving that comment! I appreciate it.

    I’m sure you see it, just like I do — in far too many organizations, there is a disconnect between the Marketing and Sales departments. They are using different software systems, different databases, and they aren’t talking and collaborating inside the office enough either! In order for marketing efforts to truly be effective — to generate qualified leads that meet the Ideal Customer Profile that you mentioned — those two departments have to work together more closely.

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