Enjoy A Demand Funnel Cocktail

Michael Brenner on Oct 19, 2010 in Demand Generation

I was recently asked by the good folks over at Focus to participate in an exciting project and the first edition of the “Book of Funnels“.  The challenge was this: put all your thoughts on the marketing and sales funnel into one page and use a picture to tell your story.

I have to admit that this project was a lot of fun. At the time, I was leading a large online demand generation program and had some thoughts about the state of the marketing and sales funnel. And I agree with Craig Rosenberg at Focus, that “every organization should make the effort to depict its revenue funnel on one page. It serves as the basis for your sales and marketing strategy.”

I also need to mention that I cannot take credit for my funnel depiction as there was much discussion by the leaders in our organization about the shape of our funnel and the need to increase the velocity of our demand activities by moving from a wine-glass shaped funnel to one shaped more like a champagne flute or a shot glass.

The use of the drinking metaphor is too alluring so to all of you who have used this before, thank you for the inspiration. Now there were a few main points I tried to get across in my submission:

  • The division between a marketing and sales funnel is a myth. Marketers sell stuff and sales people market stuff. The funnel is a useful way to analyze the rate at which we are capturing and managing demand.
  • To our customers there is no funnel. I believe we should align our efforts to customer needs.
  • There is no beginning and no end. We should have a continuous level of activity in the marketplace. This way we are engaging prospects earlier in the buying process and never stop engaging them even (or especially) after they purchase from us.
  • The earlier engagement and continuous activity level will create more efficient demand management by delivering against customer needs. Our customers will tell us when they are ready to speak to a salesperson. For most B2B buying experiences, they expect to speak to a salesperson at some point in their journey.
  • By engaging with customers on their terms, when they start the buying process and throughout their relationship with your company, you create a thinner and taller demand funnel. Conversions increase. Marketing spend is much more efficient. And customer lifetime values increase.

Now there are many great examples of funnels in this book and none of them are wrong. Some suggest the funnel is obsolete, one of my favorites is Barbra Gago’s “hourglass” that suggests we start with the community to drive customer evangelists. I also like Adam Needles “Buyers 2.0” demonstrating that buyers chose their own path and Steve Woods comments about valuation of leads and analyzing marketing impact on revenue. But whichever funnel “speaks” to you, I hope we gave you something to think about and also some direction on how to analyze your own marketing efforts.

Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.
Showing 2 comments
  • kenny madden

    AMEN!!! This is great stuff.

    Turn that funnel into a circle 🙂 🙂

    The funnel principles that usually ( did they really ever work?) work now don’t. The old closing obsessed VP of sales who say things like “if I need to double revenue growth, I need to double my sales force to drive it.” Or I need to generate 1000 “leads” to generate 1 sale. Therefore 2000 leads will generate 2 sales. This doesn’t make logical sense. The math doesn’t add up and Management confuse correlation & causality. IT Vendors who subscribe to this model may as well claim: “Christmas Trees cause Christmas”

    • Michael Brenner

      Kenny, thanks as always for your support and encouragement. And I love your causality vs correlation analogy (as you know)!