Planning B2B Lead Generation Around the Sales Funnel

If you are planning b2b lead generation campaigns and haven’t thought about your sales funnel, it’s high time you did. For those new to the term sales funnel, it essentially defines the journey your prospective clients go through from the point at which you acquire them as a prospect, to converting them into a sale.

This is classically depicted something like this…
Sales Funnel and Marketing
At each stage of the sales funnel you have a different objective for your marketing communications.

Stage 1 – Top of the Lead Generation Sales Funnel

At the top level you should be thinking about awareness building. Therefore broader media relations, advertising or event led campaigns might be appropriate. Once a prospect is aware of your business and or product they enter your funnel and you need to tweak your campaigns and messaging appropriately.

Stage 2 – From Visitors to Leads

Next your objective should be more about increasing the prospective customers’ interest in your product. You might do this through a direct mail piece outlining the core benefits your are offering. Include a call to action to drive your targets to a website landing page with more detail to increase the impact of your piece. Alternatively you might host a series of webinars where your sales or pre-sales teams can go into a little more detail about the product feature sets and the benefits to the customer.

Stage 3 – Increasing Desire

Assuming all is going well and your targets are moving through the funnel, your next objective is to heighten the desire of your targets to purchase your product or solution. This might be achieved by providing a case study about how one of their peers, or even one of their competitors, used your product. The case study might focus on how they achieved massive sales growth, or significant cost savings, or XXX, simply insert the key drivers that motivate your customers. You might integrate this with a strong call to action to view a demo of your product online, or to meet with you.

Stage 4 – Marketing Qualified Sales Leads

At this point your sales funnel is nurturing hot leads who have a greater willingness to purchase and it’s time to pass the lead over to your sales team (if you haven’t already). The sales manager will step in with a carefully timed call and invite your target to meet and discuss their needs in more detail.

Your marketing communications must now support the sales manager in convincing the target to take action and buy your product. For example you may need some printed sales collateral, or perhaps a customer experience centre for them to visit, or maybe you have some hospitality lined up.

Now those still paying attention may have noticed something quite important here. In moving your targets through the sales funnel, you’ve actually employed quite range of marketing communications tactics. To reiterate:

Gaining awareness to fill your pipeline

Media relations

Developing their interest
Direct mail piece
Website landing page
Webinar series

Increasing their desire
Customer case study

Taking action to make a purchase
Sales collateral
Customer experience centre / demo

Of course it goes without saying you need to ensure your communications and campaigns are consistent and well integrated. In other words, the messages you communicate in your advertising at the top, need to match the sales collateral at the bottom of the funnel. The materials you use should look and feel as though they are all part of the same brand and campaign – a strong brand identity and a good designer will help with this. When pulling your messaging together, consider your target customers needs and wants rather than your products’ feature sets.

Hopefully what you can start to see here is the b2b marketing mix in action, with marketers using a suite of different communications materials to kick start your sales. Not only that, you need to use a different tactic depending on where your prospects are in the sales funnel.

When you next think about new business try to consider a range of tactics to not only fill your sales funnel at the top, but crucially to nurture leads as you move them close to that all important purchase order (or of course to qualify out the time wasters).

Next stop in the funnel is post purchase. What tactics can you employ here to encourage repeat business, referrals or cross-sell and upsell?

  • http://imnewsdesk.com/products/can-online-shopping-be-that-exciting/ Ali Bell

    I’m looking for some help putting a short ebook on the topic, would it be OK for me to use a post from your blog?

    • Andy Bargery

      Hi Ali, sure, as long as you fully credit the content to me, include a link to this blog in the ebook and send me a copy…

  • http://cidlookup.com Thomas

    Interesting ideas. Do you think the traditional sales funnel will last through out time?

  • http://www.adriaday.com/hr/novalja.html novalja smjestaj

    very clear and simple graphical explanation about sales.these four steps around the funnel,will help you to become a successful salesman.Firstly the awareness and secondly interest of the prospect. And the other two stages are also important.

  • http://www.gadgetgybe.com eZwerge

    Thanks for your post. The traditional Sales funnel and corresponding marketing objectives still hold in this day an age, but the parameters have changed. Prospects base is far more divers and the marketing channels far more fragmented. This means that the scale on which you need to operate is far higher than ever and the payout per hour spent is far less than they used to. Hence we need to operate smarter and find a way to go through the steps faster, broader and at the same time in a less expensive way. I suggest automating lead nurturing and qualifying as much as possible as well as leveraging syndication tools to ensure you have a consistent message.

  • http://paypalfee.info/ Muhammad amjad butt

    first of all, i am happy to read your blog posts and read some obstacles.There are common blocks to achieving revenue breakthroughs in any organization. By breakthrough I mean a result that is unexpected, unusual, BIG.

    Those obstacles are:

    1. Market/product factors
    2. Time restraints
    3. Budget restraints
    4. Skill gaps
    5. Relationship gaps
    6. Process / technology gaps
    7. Alignment gaps

  • http://www.badtimesbustersite.com Webentrepreneur

    Generating leads to a sales funnel may seems complicated at first but it quite obvious that it offers a detailed method of seeing your potential prospects become a sale and returning cutomer…the End Goal of every business.

  • http://www.cat-illnesses.org Cat Illnesses

    The good old sales funnel and AIDA model. This stuff was valid 100 years ago, it’s valid today and most probably it will still be valid in 100 years time. Sure, nowadays there are lots of techniques to increase conversions (like video on the landing page), but as look as the general sales funnel model is not correctly understood and applied, all other things won’t help a lot.

  • http://www.techlotips.com Rafay Baloch

    Thanks for such a nice information, The way you explain it is very unique and awesome

  • http://www.ianbrodie.com Ian Brodie

    Hi Andy – good to see the link between the AIDA model and the pipeline.

    My advice to people considering creating a pipeline model for their business is that rather than having the pipeline stages represent the internal steps in your marketing and business development process – have them represent the stages your client goes through in his or her buying process.

    So for example, one phase might be “client regognises issue”. Another might be “client decision-makers on board”, etc.

    In this way progressing between phases of the pipeline represents genuine progress with the sale – not just completion of your busines development tasks. it forces you to think through the stages your client must go through to be ready to buy in their terms – not just the traditional marketing activities you carry out. That let’s you identify what you really need to do to progress the sale.


  • http://www.sbp-romania.com DanM

    Sales are a constant work, you have to take the first step and always think about the next steps you’re going to take. It’s not that easy as 1,2,3; as I see it it’s more a work of anticipating the client’s needs.

  • http://www.westparkdentalcare.org/ Mark Taylor @ Dentist in birmingham

    Yeah, this has some great stuff. Some useful information my friend, thanks for adding this blog. I think it is important at stage 1 at the top level to be thinking about building awareness such as using social media, advertising etc.. However, these are some obvious points for a business to consider, @Video Marketing Guy, I think video’s would be a great source for advertising purposes but not on a landing page. That would not look very professional, you can use ‘Youtube’ to do this. I would recommend flash, instead of using a video on a landing page. You should check out our website. For West Park Dental Care http://www.westparkdentalcare.org/

    Kind Regards,

    Mark Taylor

  • http://videomarketing.su Video Marketing Guy

    Good old stuff, always good to remember. However time is not standing still, and we are looking forward to see an article about using video on a landing page to supercharge your sales funnel