Best Practices for Marketing and Sales Alignment: Working Through the Funnel-Part I

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In a recent webinar, Pete Gracey, co-founder & president of AG Salesworks joined Act-On CMO Atri Chatterjee to discuss Best Practices for Marketing & Sales Alignment: Working Through the Funnel. This webinar is packed with information; we’ll discuss Part 1 in this post, and then cover Part 2 in the next. If you’d like to skip straight to the webinar, you can watch it here.

Best Practices for the Funnel – Every business has their own version of a marketing and sales funnel. This one starts with raw names, ends with customers, and looks like this:

funnel

 

 

 

Having a funnel is just the beginning; you need to know how to use it. Atri outlined a set of best practices for managing the cycle on the marketing side:

1)      Build your database -Buy permission-based names and engage in data capture. Capturing data from your own efforts with content is typically two to three times more effective than acquiring names from a data vendor.

2)      Attract attention- Have a strong story to tell and tell it in a way which will entice your audience. Multimedia content tracks at a much higher rate than a simple content document.

3)      Content strategies – It’s not only important to have strong content, but to deploy that content strategically. Whether you’re using a blog, social media or a website, tailor your content in a way which will target your audience.

4)      Coordinate campaigns – The first step is to build an editorial calendar.  If someone has never heard of your company you’ll need to introduce them to your product or solution. After the initial introduction you should provide the potential buyer a call-to-action that they can benefit from, perhaps a test or a survey.

5)      Scoring – Some activities are valued more than others. It’s important to be able to allocate a higher score to an activity that indicates a greater level of sales-readiness, so marketers can identify them and then pass to sales at the opportune time. This also means that building curriculum not only on the marketing side, but on the sales side as well is paramount.

6)      Feedback – Topics and trends are constantly changing and you should be too. Strive to keep content fresh by measuring, tracking and modifying it based on the data results you see.

7)      Customer retention – Marketing activity should continue even after the sales organization has taken over the leads. Once an organization has become a customer, you should modify the message but continue interaction.

8)      Benchmark the right analytics and metrics- Track activity, reach out based on certain criteria, refine, adjust and update messaging accordingly.

9)      Website presence – Track who’s coming to your website and which pages they visit. Know if they are existing customers or new visitors and what they’re looking for. This gives your company actionable insight into visitors’ behaviors and motives.

Inbound/Outbound Content Strategies - One key to Internet-based marketing is having great content. “You can’t have successful marketing programs unless you have good content,” says Atri. The goal for your business should involve creating a hub of compelling content and repurposing it for various online channels and audiences. Find ways to modify the content in different ways that will work for your business. If you don’t have the resources to write and deploy your own, you always have the option to co-sponsor compelling content with third parties.

When you have captivating content, make sure you deploy it across multiple channels and not just your site; this includes email and social media. A recent study by MarketingSherpa showed that buyers rely on social networks to gain insight and read reviews before making a purchasing decision. Make sure your content is visible and easy to find by prospects.

Automating Nurturing Programs – As a marketer you should have a mechanism for nurturing and scoring leads based on activity. Understand the key drivers for your conversions by automating the lead qualification process to more effectively nurture your leads through the sales funnel.

Optimizing Marketing and Sales Handoff – By measuring data from initial contact to close and everything in between, you can measure key indicators and improve programs based on your results. Capture prospect behavior such as content accessed, time spent, and actions taken on the website and use the insight to highlight points and empower sales.

Look for Best Practices for Marketing & Sales Alignment: Working Through the Funnel-Part 2 next week which will cover seven critical areas that inside sales should focus on when preparing to deal with the flow of quality inbound leads.

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