The funnel is a common analogy in marketing and sales, but these two groups often operate with disparate steps. This can significantly impact sales effectiveness. You need to ensure your marketing and sales teams are on the same page when it comes to the revenue funnel.

1. Understand

The revenue funnel is closely tied to the sales cycle. At its heart, the sales cycle is the number of steps an individual takes on his or her way to becoming a customer of your company. The revenue funnel starts with buyers identifying a need, researching and evaluating different options, and ultimately results in prospects deciding on a particular company and solution. While most sales professionals are aware of this concept, buyer behavior has radically changed with the advent of the Internet. In the past, salespeople could push prospects from one stage of the buying cycle to the next. Now buyers want to do their own research and start formulating opinions before they ever reach out to a sales rep. In fact, leads may be in the middle stages of your revenue funnel before you’re even aware of them.

B2B firms that work within the parameters of the revenue funnel concept will outperform those that don’t. Smart businesses start working with leads while they are in the early research stages. Other companies don’t get in touch with prospects until they are seriously considering buying or have expressed an intent to purchase. This can reduce the chances for a successful conversion.

2. Align

To avoid losing leads before conversion, the different stages of your revenue funnel need to be aligned to specific strategies to increase sales. As leads enter the revenue funnel, they are typically in the initial research phase. One of the best ways to gain authority during the early parts of the customer journey is to establish thought leadership. If your company is seen as a credible source in the industry, you will be able to improve Internet lead generation efforts, compared to taking a sales-first mentality. In the early stages of the buying cycle, it may be a better tactic to focus on providing information rather than jumping the gun with sales pitches.

Content marketing can prove to be a major boon for aligning your revenue funnel to lead behavior because it delivers valuable information without sounding too self-promotional. Prospects in different stages of the sales cycle want to consume varying types of content as they move closer to making a final decision. Blog posts can boost brand awareness, which is helpful for leads that are just entering the funnel. As potential clients learn more, e-books, white papers and case studies can be beneficial.

3. Know your role

Many B2B firms struggle with marketing and sales alignment, and this can significantly impact your ability to convert leads into customers. Your marketing team should be primarily responsible for lead generation and nurturing efforts. At the appropriate time, marketers should direct leads to the sales team, which is then responsible for closing the deal. Difficulties can arise when the two teams don’t have a clear understanding of their roles. Misalignment can become apparent to prospects, which reduces sales effectiveness.

Both teams need to maintain a clear understanding of their roles to do their jobs most efficiently. However, it isn’t just alignment between the marketing and sales team that you need to worry about. The way in which tasks are assigned to salespeople has a significant impact in their ability to close deals at a later time. For example, asking a sales rep to follow up with a lead who just entered the funnel isn’t an effective use of his or her time because it’s unlikely that the prospect is ready to talk about different solutions or pricing yet. An online marketing system can improve task assignments. Marketers should be the ones conducting lead nurturing activities, which allows sales employees to focus on tasks that directly impact company revenue growth. Marketing automation also allows you to assign leads to a specific sales rep. If you have employees with various skill levels on your team, this can help ensure the right people are handling certain activities. This approach will increase the number of deals your team is able to close.

The importance of the revenue funnel

When you have a clear understanding of the different stages of the sales cycle, align your marketing and sales strategies to the steps and make sure all employees are aware of their roles in the process, it’s a recipe for success. Marketing automation can support the three steps for sales effectiveness by giving your teams better visibility into the different stages, boosting alignment and efficiently assigning tasks.

Need more convincing of the power of marketing automation?

An integrated marketing environment doesn’t just create more targeted emails. It can boost company growth and significantly increase revenue in a relatively short period of time. Marketing automation can:

  • Generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at a 33-percent lower cost when businesses excel at nurturing
  • Contribute to a 451-percent increase in qualified leads
  • Increase revenue by as much as 10 percent in six to nine months
  • Use relevant emails to achieve 18 times higher revenue than broadcast emails


With the clear link to revenue growth and the ability to expend less time on marketing efforts, it wouldn’t be very smart to not adopt an automated platform. This solution allows you to create relevant content, keep branding consistent across multiple channels and experience better ROI.  See the differences between the militant, blunt-force and the savvy, smart marketer approach to generating qualified leads.

Do you really know which type of marketing approach you are taking today?  What to find out for sure? Get your free marketing assessment report by completing our 3 step survey. Taking this survey will give you good information as to how you are spending your marketing dollars, what gaps exist, and how you can better utilize your sales expertise.