Customer-centric B2B 

What’s all this funny talk about funnels?

Some “new” B2B sales and marketing schemes make total sense, even if you didn’t find the time to read the latest books or attended those special seminars. Lately, for example, there have been some rather innovative ideas about funnels.

Many years ago, somebody used a funnel to illustrate the famous AIDA formula: Starting in the wider, open end, moving the intended buyers from Attention to Interest to Desire to Action. Much like in an industrial refinery.

Sometimes the respective stage was also related to a certain type of media/activity, and to the differentiated contact cost or value of that activity. If, for instance, one ad exposure in a business magazine was valued at one dollar, a received or opened direct mail unit may have been ten dollars, and a qualified personal presentation a hundred (or a thousand) dollars.  

A far from perfect mechanism

The funnel concept was fine as a crude sifting mechanism, to identify the companies qualified for costly personal intervention. But it was far from perfect:

  • Many B2B-selling companies have relatively few, and easily identifiable prospect companies to start with. Sales already know who they are, so they don’t really need that funnel.
  • In many cases, the bulk of the business within reach is to be found with existing accounts, through cross-selling and up-selling.
  • At best, the funnel provides a potential entry point. It doesn’t say anything about all the people involved in the internal procedures towards a possible finalized deal.
  • The funnel doesn’t take the dynamic communication streams and interaction between all these people, throughout the buying journey, into account.
  • It does not do anything to help align marketing with sales.

A more productive customer journey

Then somebody (or maybe several different people) turned the funnel upside-down and said:

  • Let marketing and sales focus on the same accounts – customers and qualified leads.
  • Learn as much as you can about these accounts.
  • Try to reach everyone within the organization, and make them share your views – all the time. You simply don't know when it would make a difference.
  • Adapt your content and messages to their priorities and interests.
  • One more thing: Don’t “sell”. Let them reveal who's interested, and what they want to talk about.

Focus, learn, enter, expand and spread the word. Monitor the response, adapt you messages and bring sales up to date.

Rolf Andersson
Senior Writer & Strategist at Freya News

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