Although it’s tempting to regard your sales funnel performance as the most important objective, understanding customer behaviour is the ultimate goal and it requires an overview of both the buyer’s journey – how they found you and what were their actions leading to a sale- and the sales funnel – how they converted from lead to customer.
In this article, we’ll show you how you can correlate your content marketing efforts with your sales efforts, in an overall inbound strategy.
But first, a quick recap of the buyer’s journey
The buyer’s journey is the active research process a buyer goes through, leading up to a purchase. Used as a starting point for your content marketing strategy, this journey allows you to understand where and when you can reach strangers to turn them into visitors and what type of content you can entice them with in order for them to become leads. It also helps you plan the various ways in which you can convert these leads into actual customers and future promoters.
Here’s a compelling visual overview of how you should organize and map your content, according to the three different stages of the buyer’s journey (courtesy of HubSpot).
Now, onto the sales funnel
The sales funnel focuses on the purchasing experience. Because it’s a great way to track the volume of customers at different selling stages, it can be an appealing go-to when measuring the ROI of your marketing efforts.
However, this is just one part of the overall customer experience and cannot be used as a sole reference of how well you’re performing in attracting new customers. In order to correctly quantify your marketing & sales success you have to take into account not only the purchasing experience, but also how that person found out about you, how they interacted with your product/brand and how your product/service became part of their lives.
How a customer behaves along this whole experience is what we’re trying to determine by bringing the buyer’s journey and the sales funnel together.
Bringing the two together
The Buyer’s Journey is divided into 3 main stages: Awareness, Consideration and Decision, while the Sales Funnel is usually divided into: Prospects, Marketing Qualified Leads, Sales Qualified Leads, Opportunity and Customer.
If you want to bring together your content marketing efforts and your sales efforts, you have to overlap them and look at the customer experience from a combined perspective.
In order to succeed, your Marketing and Sales teams have to work together during every step of the customer’s experience. For example:
- As the Marketing team is defining your buyer personas, your Sales team will provide relevant information based on existing clients and market know-how;
- Sales prospecting can leverage digital social networks that provide key insights and targeted access to the right people;
- The content offers created by your Marketing team for the Consideration stage of the Buyer’s Journey can serve as great assets in addressing common questions in a sales meeting;
- Marketing leads who are considering your product and actively connect with you in the online environment can benefit from the product & service information that the Sales team has to offer;
- Customer delight is perhaps the most obvious intersection of Marketing and Sales, where customer service as well as customer advocacy require a fine-tuned mix of engagement and assistance.
To ensure that this collaboration is fruitful and that the leads-qualification process runs smoothly, you should have a Marketing and Sales Agreement in place that clearly defines what a MQL is, what a SQL is and how the handout process will go, from one team to another.