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One of the greatest challenges we face as marketers is knowing what’s wrong and why in our sales and marketing funnel. I thought I’d share a useful guide I’ve relied on in order to understand what challenges your organization might face in its marketing.

Let’s start with the three broadest categories of marketing metrics: audience, leads, and sales. We know that audience is driven by PR, media, and advertising. Marketing is about getting qualified members of the audience to raise their hands. Sales is about getting those qualified people to buy. These are the broadest, most gross generalizations, but they’re a place to start.

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Let’s assume then that you have the metrics and analytics from each stage in the funnel, and you’ve broken them out into roughly good and bad categories, based on whether period-over-period growth is positive (green) or negative (red). If you’re going gangbusters and everything seems super with period-over-period math, then you might need to do rate of change calculations in order to detect problems.

Scenarios 1 and 8 are the most obvious. When everything is working great, optimize, but don’t be in a rush to fix what isn’t broken. When everything is broken, fix the fastest, easiest things to get some momentum – any momentum – going. You need wins on the board, and frankly anything will help.

Scenario 2 is a situation familiar to many marketers, and it’s the age old sales vs. marketing argument – the leads are weak vs. you sales people can’t sell. This is a case where the problem may in fact be in the audience itself. An audience that converts to a lead but can’t buy is a targeting issue. Make sure you’re bringing in the right audience via PR and advertising. To ascertain this, you’ll need to look in your sales CRM data to see why opportunities aren’t being created.

Scenario 4 leads to Scenario 7. Scenario 4 is when you’ve tapped out your audience. The audience you have is converting, which means marketing is working, and sales is selling, but it’s only a matter of time before you decline into Scenario 7. The pipe at the top is empty, which means that in a short while, you will run out of leads, and ultimately the funnel breaks down. To remedy it, you’ll need to change up audience capture strategies, using advertising and perhaps hiring a PR firm.

Scenario 5 is a case where your PR and advertising are working, but nothing else is. Start at the bottom of your funnel and figure out why sales isn’t selling. You’ll spend a lot of time with your sales CRM doing that, but it will be worth it. That will get you to Scenario 3, where the bottom of the funnel is converting again and the top is being fed, so it’s just a question of getting your marketing systems optimized and repaired to close the loop.

Scenario 6 is a rarity – rarely do you see marketing flourishing when there’s a decline at the top of the funnel. The exception to this rule is when you have a strong outbound sales force, folks who are going out and networking and building their own pipelines. When you see scenario 6, you know they’re spending too much time sourcing leads and not enough time closing deals. However, fixing the top of the funnel will alleviate this problem in the long-term, giving them leads to call. Start there.

These scenarios are only starting points, but they’re a useful way to begin testing hypotheses about what might be wrong in your sales and marketing funnel – and where you start to fix it!


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