Three Things You Can Learn from the Process of Planning and Nurturing

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of a collaborative project headed by Craig Rosenberg of Focus called The Book of Funnels.  In this book, I (along with 13 other B2B marketing experts) was asked to contribute my thoughts on how to best approach the Lead Funnel, and provide insights on how it relates to sales pipeline.  I’m looking forward to the ongoing dialogue around lead management that this project will generate.

As a follow-up to the participation in this project, the contributors were asked to offer up what they learned while putting their funnels together.  This project reaffirmed some valuable insight, insight that we reinforce with our clients every day.  Below are three thoughts that I took away.

1.  Starts Planning at the End: Your Revenue Goal

Launching a marketing campaign with no idea on how it will contribute to revenue is an exercise in shooting in the dark that prohibits marketers from measuring success.  As seen in the funnel produced by The Annuitas Group (see image at the end of this post), the Lead Planning Process should begin with marketing determining the amount of revenue that they are expected to generate.  Once that number is determined (and agreed to by both marketing and sales), the rest of the planning process can continue.  Working backwards from the revenue goal, plan how many responses, qualified leads, etc. are needed to reach the goal.

One of the other benefits of starting with the revenue goal and working backwards is that it gives marketing keener insight in how to determine their budget.  Knowing exactly how many responses are needed to meet the revenue number will help marketing very quickly determine if they will have the necessary budget to meet the response goals.  This exercise is a great way to build a business case for budgetary planning.

2.  Lead Planning Helps Align Marketing & Sales

Many have made a good living at trying to solve the marketing & sales alignment problem.  However, misalignment of these two groups is not the heart of the issue.  It’s only a symptom of a greater problem: a lack of process.

When marketing and sales come together to work through the lead planning process (i.e. develop the funnel), the alignment begins to happen.  Why?  Because they both begin working towards a common goal.  Yet the lead planning process, while important, will not solve the alignment issue on its own. It must be combined with other components of the lead management process such as lead qualification, lead nurturing and lead routing.  Developing these component processes should also be a collaborative effort between marketing and sales.  Doing so will bring them into alignment, resulting in improved return on marketing and sales investments.

3.  The Lead Funnel is About Buyer Relationships

Many companies approach their lead funnel creation from a linear perspective.  In other words, they view the lead planning process solely based on conversions from one stage to the next (Responses to Leads to Qualified Leads to Opportunities, etc.). This approach places too much emphasis on conversions, and ignores the important step of nurturing those “non-conversions” at each stage in the funnel.  A better approach is to incorporate the nurture process along every stage of the funnel.  This includes nurturing at the marketing, sales and customer stages.

By incorporating the nurture process into your lead funnel, it drives an organization to determine how they will engage their buyers, build 1-1 relationships that will move them faster through the buying cycle, improve conversions at every stage, and ultimately increase revenue contribution.

Developing a lead planning funnel is one of the key processes in the Lead Management FrameworkTM.  When done correctly it will provide valuable insight into the overall success of your marketing initiatives and show just how much marketing is contributing to the bottom line.

Lead Planning Funnel

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