May 05, 2016
Too many B2B marketing teams fail to consider the bigger picture. The main mistake is focusing on just one relationship stage in the marketing to sales lifecycle. Successful inbound marketing assesses customer experience at each stage in the buyer journey.
In defining the marketing to sales lifecycle for your enterprise, consider first the stages your customer is experiencing. This model exemplifies a B2B technology provider’s customer lifecycle.
Defining your enterprise’s lifecycle, or buyer continuum, can assist the efforts of all teams involved in generating leads and revenue. This process could begin with examining where customer needs are being met and identifying areas of weakness that are hurting customer experience at all stages of the lifecycle.
For most B2B businesses, the following core stages will resonate:
Aligning marketing and sales team involvement in the service and solution stage, merging support into this stage of the lifecycle, can help with analysis of conversions and retention and improve in lifecycle definition.
Mapping activities through each lifecycle stage and integrating these activities into marketing automation stages will help both marketing teams and sales teams better understand their value and progress over time.
Workflows and email nurturing within an automation system can be used to scale marketing activities and conduct smart, metrics-driven communications.
Consider an example from the Hubspot blog, where Lead Nurturing Workflows are used to deliver content via email over time to a user with TOFU, MOFU, BOFU.
Example above is from Blog.hubspot.com, 6 Essential Nurturing Workflows For Every B2B Company, by Olivia Allen.
The divisive approach that focuses on initial marketing as one stage and the sales period as another, doesn’t take into consideration the ongoing need to improve retention and build customer happiness across the entire B2B lifecycle.
Taking a more holistic view and involving sales and marketing teams in defining, servicing, and providing feedback into the marketing and sales lifecycle can deepen the enterprise’s understanding of its customers’ needs and perspectives.
The discussion involved in defining lifecycle also enables shared definitions of “lead” reducing the angst in marketing that sales doesn’t convert and the grumbling in sales that marketing’s leads aren’t up to par.
Each lead needs to be managed differently by sales and by marketing, but only when the enterprise understands its lifecycle and its criteria for defining where a lead falls in the cycle stages, will customers get the focused, appropriate attention that matches their needs. There needs to be a common definition of what constitutes a subscriber, lead, MQL, SQL, opportunity, and closing as a customer. Also, contacts need to be clearly segmented according to their current lifecycle stage--and these segments should be shared between marketing and sales.
Tools to consider when implementing your marketing to sales lifecycle within your marketing automation system:
B2B Lifecycle: Ideas in Action:
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