Marketing and sales funnels — why you need both

While the terms ‘marketing funnel’ and ‘sales funnel’ are generally used interchangeably, they are two very different beasts. In this article, we’ll look at what each funnel represents, and why your business needs both to function like an Olympic relay team that beats all the competition.

The marketing funnel is the entire journey a person takes — from becoming aware of your company to being a committed customer. The sales funnel, on the other hand, is at the end of the marketing funnel and deals with intent, evaluation, and purchase.

A simplified funnel might include awareness, consideration, and conversion — while a more segmented funnel might include awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, and purchase. Whichever way you slice it, there is often friction between marketing at the top and sales at the bottom of the funnel. And it has to do with leads.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to keep it simple and focus on a marketing and sales funnel with three stages.

1. TOFU — Top of Funnel

The top of the funnel is owned by marketing. This is all about lead generation — making prospects aware of your product or service. The tools you can use include:

  • Blogs
  • Webinars
  • Campaigns
  • SEO
  • Videos
  • Events
  • Infographics

2. MOFU — Middle of Funnel

The middle of the funnel is responsible for lead nurturing. This is where marketing creates and shares content that give warm prospects the ability to evaluate your products or services. It can be done through the following content:

  • Paid ads
  • Email marketing
  • White papers
  • Case studies
  • Offers or specials
  • Quizzes

At this stage of the journey, marketing passes qualified leads onto sales. But tension often arises because marketing and sales see leads differently. To avoid friction, you need to be clear on the difference between marketing qualified leads (MQL) and sales qualified leads (SQL). While an SQL is ready to purchase, an MQL is not yet in the buying stage and needs to be nurtured as a hot prospect.

3. BOTU — Bottom of Funnel

The bottom of the funnel is driven by sales — who must provide content and tools that ultimately turns a hot prospect into a committed customer. It’s all about closing the deal, and is typically done through content like this:

  • Product demos
  • Sales collateral
  • Product spec sheets
  • Testimonials
  • Customers

Why it matters

Funnels are not an exact science, but they give you structure to drive growth and measure success. Most importantly, you can foster better collaboration by showing marketing and sales that they are part of the same ecosystem. No tension here! By working together, teams can see what works and what doesn’t work — at each stage of the funnel, based on your ideal customer profile.

Final thoughts

A marketing and sales funnel means nothing if you don’t have a clearly defined customer value proposition (CVP) and an ideal customer profile. Be clear on the value your product or service adds — and how that value is positioned in the mind of your customer.

How we help

Communicating your value-add to potential customers in a crowded market is not easy. We use stories, graphics, and analogies to help you land your message — whether you need to align your sales and marketing teams or reach your ideal customer. Reach out for a complimentary discovery call and we’ll show you how we can help create clarity and the simplicity you need to capture your audience’s attention.

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About Garth Jemmett

Garth Jemmett is the founder of We Explain Stuff. He helps business leaders escape complexity by making strategies, processes, products and services easy to understand.

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