Sales focus versus marketing focus
This post is called lifecycle marketing through the sales funnel because the Marketing team need to carry out lifecycle marketing which encompases the whole customer experience to foster brand loyalty. Sales on the other hand will be more interested in the stages of the sales funnel.
Both Sales and Marketing in a B2B environment need to work very closely together to achieve sales success. Business activities will be complimentary and customers will have touch points with sales and marketing.
Lifecycle marketing factors in the entire experience a customer has from the beginning throughout the customer’s life, rather than just the sales stages. That includes a customer’s first touch point with the brand, their interest and investment in the brand, followed by loyalty and retention.
The last part of lifecycle marketing through the sales funnel is one of the most important. For Marketing this means encouraging cross selling through newsletters and other activities. Customer reviews and referrals are encouraged as well as case studies from existing customers. Marketing will also be developing other content to encourage further interaction with the brand. The content should add value as well as understand typical pains the customers will be experiencing in their daily professional lives.
For the sales team it’s all about account management and developing the personal relationship and trust with the customer. It’s easier to get repeat business from existing customers rather than new ones and so the return on investment is better. Furthermore if customers take a suite of products it makes it harder for them to switch to a competitor. Hence account management is important to encourage all this.
Stages of the sales funnel
The sales funnel typically has stages (although not every customer will go through these stages chronologically):
Interest – finding out about the brand from events, content, social media and word of mouth.
Research – finding out more information through more content.
Decision making – such as considering competitors. Lead nurturing at this stage uses exclusive promotions, free trials, and consultations as incentives to buy. A prospective customer may even be encouraged to visit another existing customer (if they agree).
Purchasing – special offers are considered and a deal arrranged by the sales person. The challenge from here for Marketing is encouraging repeat purchases and referrals through brand engagement newsletters and reward schemes. Sales will be making regular visits and calls in the account management process.
Stages of lifecycle marketing
Lifecycle marketing has a different set of stages:
Awareness – As with the first stage in the sales tunnel contacts may need up to 7 touch points with a brand to even retain its name. Marketing will be using a whole host of methods to attract customers such as paid media, ads, research papers, content in targeted magazines and other lead magnets. Hubspot has 11 examples of these.
Intent – This is like the sale funnel’s “research” and “decision-making” stages combined. The thought behind this combo is that adding an extra step is wasting time for both marketer and lead. An example of an activity at this stage is Web Chat.
Decision – The decision stage is the same as the customer purchasing a service or product in the sales funnel.
Loyalty – Marketing at this stage will focus on messages related to the value the brand brings and the entire customer experience.
The importance of analytics in lifecycle marketing
Lifecycle marketing is concerned with analytics. Marketing will be looking at social media and web analytics to gauge which content is performing well and leading to actions. Both sales and marketing will be managing lifecycle marketing though the sales funnel via a CRM (content relationship management system).
Categorising in the customer database
A CRM is essentially a database of contacts which can be given categories according to the stage in the life cycle such as:
- Suspect – a contact that has some sort of interaction with the brand
- Prospect – contacts who have shown a certain level of interest, ie they could have had a meeting with Sales
- Customer signed up – prospect has raised a PO for the order and signed paperwork
- Customer confirmed – the product or service is up and running at the company
Marketing assets in lifecycle marketing
Lifecycle marketing through the sales funnel involves developing marketing assets for each stage of the customer journey. Examples of these are:
- White papers
- Webinars (ideally in conjunction with a customer)
- Case studies and use cases
- Reward schemes
- Brand reinforcement content
- Special offers
Contained in each marketing asset will be a call to action to encourage contacts to move through the sales funnel to the next stage.
Other activities are very important to get contacts to interact in the first place with the brand. This is where traditional marketing such as events and PR come into their own. In B2B marketing events are one of the best ways to raise brand awareness and leads at the same time. Good SEO and social media are important to encourage contacts to visit your website in the first place.
The diagram below shows how lifecycle marketing can be mapped to the sales funnel.
Sales and marketing teams can work effectively together through lifecycle marketing and through the sales funnel. Regular anecdotal feedback from Sales is important so that Marketing know what is working, this activity will complement the analytics gained from various systems.
What are your questions about how lifecycle marketing works with the sales funnel?