Sales leaders increasingly look to marketing for total alignment with their revenue goals and robust delivery of prospects ranging from top-of-funnel names to sales ready leads SRLs.
Demand marketers also face their own leadership’s ramped-up expectations: build an inventory of content and execute a range of programs that deliver prospects from the top to the bottom of the funnel, while collecting and delivering sufficient data to validate the quality of names that get turned over to sales.
When I look for a common thread among these requirements, it’s this: Today’s demand marketer needs to be a sales partner with an unwavering focus on revenue while owning traditional brand marketing functions that are harder to peg directly to revenue. That means being a full-funnel marketer.
The full-funnel marketers we’ve engaged with—those setting the pace in this evolution—share five qualities that can inform all of our efforts. They are:
1. Laser Focus on Revenue
Any marketer who doesn’t have a funnel thumbtacked to his or her cubicle or office wall—with revenue goals beside it—isn’t spending enough time thinking about revenue. It’s not the construct of the funnel that’s so important, but rather the focus on revenue as the overriding objective of every marketing dollar spent. Even campaigns aimed at gathering top-of-funnel prospects should be thought of as future revenue, and the progression of those prospects should be tracked precisely. The goal of every campaign and expenditure must be expressed—and managed—in explicit revenue terms. Anything less and you’re setting up marketing for failure.
2. Content that Spans the Funnel
Consider this oft-cited data point: Customers engage with as many as 10 pieces of content before “raising their hand” for a sales conversation. Demand marketers looking to address this reality face two common content issues: They lack an adequate inventory of content and they do not have assets to execute campaigns that support all three stages of the funnel. In the latter case, their content concentrates in one or two stages that map to the expertise of their organization. The most efficient way to diagnose and treat this problem is to conduct an audit, assign every asset to a funnel stage, identify gaps and create a plan to fill gaps with new content. The typical demand marketing team plugs gaps by engaging with partners that can expand its network of contributors, bring complementary skillsets to bear and, most important for long-term success, build more comprehensive plans so content gaps don’t remain a long-term problem. Choose those partners judiciously.
3. Diverse Programs to Fill the Funnel
Full-funnel marketing requires a mix of campaigns geared toward each of the three funnel stages. It can also take the form of single campaigns that target more than one funnel stage. If there’s a major focus on ABM (a given in most companies), there’s still a need for net new names that can enter nurture programs with the goal of conversion in the future. You can plan campaigns that yield ABM and net new names to meet sales’ account-based expectations while ensuring a healthy flow of future opportunities. A campaign strategy that covers ABM plus net new provides a robust pipeline for short-term (revenue) and long-term (prospect driving) success. Partners are key here as well.
4. Great Insight on Names in the Funnel
What insights, exactly, does your sales team need on the names they’re receiving? Think content offers they’ve engaged with, previous offers accepted, need and buying timeframe details. Quality is always higher with more data and more insight, which lead to timely, productive conversations. Appending third-party data for additional insight beyond what your internal systems collect makes the names you deliver more valuable to sales, so factor such data into your campaign budgets.
5. Proactive Updates on the State of the Funnel
Most people don’t like surprises, especially in sales, where the goals are to deliver revenue consistently and predictably, and where negative surprises cost sales leaders their jobs as a matter of course. Operating a full-funnel strategy is one critical way marketing can prevent negative surprises for sales. Then it’s vital to have a structured communications program with proactive outreach that makes marketing’s activities—and therefore, the state of the funnel—fully transparent.
Follow a regular cadence (recommendation: weekly) so that sales can easily understand the state of the funnel—and so you can nip concerns and complaints in the bud. A regular stream of communications also creates a “paper trail” that can cover you and your team if necessary.
If you follow the preceding five steps, you’ll be a strategic revenue partner to your sales team. Has your team adapted to its full-funnel mandate?
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