Three Key Components of a Well Designed Marketing and Sales Pipeline

Here at The Marketing Spaces, we’re a bit obsessed with making sure marketing is effective and actively contributes to the business’s results.

Too often marketing is relegated to a vague set of ‘awareness raising’ activities and then producing a load of marketing collateral to support sales activities.

But marketing is more than this…

Excellent marketing is all about managing and maintaining the whole user journey, from the first instance of being made aware that your business and its services exist to making a purchase and encouraging customer loyalty. 

What a marketing and sales pipeline is and why it’s important

Every business that wants to be profitable needs to have well-designed marketing and sales funnel. 

This funnel, or pipeline, shows the journey that your key target segment takes from initial awareness of your services through to choosing to buy from you and then becoming a loyal client. 

Their journey through your pipeline tells your prospective clients what kind of company they are dealing with – and helps them decide if they want to become your client.

Internally, well-designed marketing and sales funnel allows you to see how much potential and actual income is coming in, so you can plan and run your business effectively. It also allows you to see what marketing is working – and what isn’t.

When marketing and sales pipelines are badly designed, the business suffers. Typically, you can expect to see that:

  • You don’t know what money is coming into the business or when it’s likely to come, so it’s hard to know when to spend and how much. 
  • You’re spending too much time on marketing and sales workarounds when it comes to moving from a marketing-qualified lead to moving it on to a sales-qualified lead.
  • You certainly won’t know which marketing activities are working and why.

This means that when you decide to grow your business, your pipeline structure can’t cope

If it isn’t well designed, it can’t be scaled – and if it can’t be scaled then it can’t bring more business in without considerable pain.

So, let’s look at the three key components of a well-designed marketing and sales pipeline that you can put in place.

It is purposefully designed 

For many growing businesses, processes have grown and evolved rather than been designed to be fit for their purpose. The marketing and sales pipeline is one that is particularly vulnerable to this chaos. You can see why: 

A business starts up and it is key to get cash in. Find those prospects, nurture them, and get a sale. And marketing has the additional problem of dealing with people.

As every marketer can tell you, your marketing activities have to constantly change as you see how your audience engages and react (or don’t engage and don’t react) to them. 

To begin with, it’s hard to design your pipeline because you don’t know what marketing and sales techniques are going to work.

However, after a few weeks and months, you have that data. You can see what your prospects are responding to. You know how long they are taking to make decisions and what they want to be shown along the way.

Now you can design your marketing and sales pipeline.

The Design Phase means mapping out: 

  • The journey we think is best for our key target audience to take from first becoming aware of us, all the way through to being a loyal customer.
  • The different routes they may actually take through our marketing and sales funnel (remember that bit about dealing with human behaviour? People never totally do what is expected or wanted of them!) and checking that whatever journey they take, it still feels great and joined up for them.
  • The level of customisation at each point, e.g. how much of your marketing and sales content is automated and set, based on the prospect’s behaviour as they move through your marketing and sales pipeline.
  • Putting the right key performance indicators (KPI) in place for each key aspect of the journey, so you can quickly see how well your pipeline is performing and where any issues might be.

Purposefully designing your marketing and sales funnel like this means you can actively manage what is happening at each stage. 

Lots of people engaging with your top-level awareness content but choosing to ignore downloading gated material? Investigate!

Either you are initially attracting the wrong kind of people or they are the right kind but you are stopping them from moving forward by gating content. 

Determine the issue, resolve it, and keep a smooth flow through the pipeline.

Marketing, Sales and Account Management seamlessly overlap

Your marketing and sales pipeline should be designed and operated so that your key target segment feels like they are dealing with one organisation. 

This has to be built into the automated elements of marketing, such as emails and scheduled socials and paid ads, and also into the human element – your people and how they are dealing with each person.

This means that your marketing and sales funnel has to make sure that when the prospect goes from ‘Marketing Qualified Lead’ to ‘Sales Qualified Lead’ to ‘New Client’ to ‘Valued Client’, if they are being ‘handed over’ to different people in your business, it feels seamless to them. 

We’ve all been there while we wait for someone to look up the notes and figure out where the last person got to when dealing with us – it’s best to avoid this situation.

So, how can you make sure that marketing, sales, and account management seamlessly overlap?

First, decide internally who is looking after which part of the marketing and sales funnel. This very much depends on your business and who you have doing which role. The diagram shows some options for how this can be organised, bringing Account Management in too.

marketing, sales and account management overlap

Once that decision has been made, bring everyone together as a team to go over it and discuss it. 

In particular, look for ‘grey’ areas where it’s unclear when that Prospect moves from Marketing to Sales or Sales to Account Management. Discuss how to handle this so that it still gives your prospect/client the best experience of your business. 

Get stuck into the detail. If Sales are looking after Marketing Qualified Leads moving them from Considering to Adopting, what marketing and sales material do they need to help support them? How will they get that?

How will Sales feedback to marketing the valuable customer intelligence they will glean through their conversations so that the marketing material can be adapted and improved? 

And finally, the key part here is to make sure one person has responsibility for the whole pipeline. Their role must include ensuring that sales, marketing and account management are working well together, as well as monitoring what is happening across the whole pipeline.

Choose the right marketing tech stack for today and tomorrow

There are so many options out there at all levels of budget, functionality and quality. The first piece of advice is: to take your time choosing which marketing technology to use.

When it comes to choosing your marketing and sales tech stack, go back to your design. Start to look for the technology that can best help you build and run the Marketing and Sales pipeline you have designed.

Then, as you start assessing the different options, there are three key considerations:

  1. The quality of the experience
  2. How many resources (budget and time) does your business needs to invest now – and in the future
  3. That it can be built on as you scale and grow.

Let’s look at each in turn.

  • The quality of the experience

This is split into two: what it feels like to set up and run your marketing and sales tech stack and what it feels like to be going through it as a prospect and customer.

If you choose a tech stack that your marketing and sales people dislike or which doesn’t allow them to do what they want to do, they will create work-arounds. These work-around will be known to them and them only – causing issues if they are on leave, off-sick or move jobs. 

If you choose a tech-stack that feels clunky and disjointed to your audience – your prospective and actual customers – then it can diminish your brand’s standing. 

In short, your people need to feel comfortable using it and confident that it gives them what they need while your prospects and clients are getting a great experience too.

  • How many resources (budget and time) does your business needs to invest now – and in the future

Using marketing and sales technology to build your pipeline structure comes at an investment cost – now and in the future.

When costing out which option to choose, it’s wise to make sure you are looking at it from all angles.

Key things we advise people to consider are:

  • Do the costs of your chosen tech rise after an introductory period?
  • If you are choosing to join up different pieces of tech compared to choosing one ‘expensive’ piece of software or App, what is the overall price of the ‘different pieces’? Is it more or less than buying the one ‘big’ system?
  • How much will it cost to set up your marketing and sales tech? 
  • Who will set it up? What will it cost in terms of their time / wages / fees?
  • Who will run it moving forwards? What will that cost in terms of time / wages / fees?

Sometimes, on balance, it can be better to go for what at first looks expensive. However, it can sometimes be better to choose a cheaper tech stack that you know team members can set up and run rather than have to pay for external support or training. You can make that an informed decision.

There is no right or wrong approach – it is just considering it all and making the right choice for your company’s resources.

  • That it can be built on as you scale and grow.

Make sure it is scalable. If you choose a marketing tech stack that can’t grow and flex as your company grows and flexes, then you will get frustrated. 

Assess if it meets your anticipated needs today, next month, in the next six months, the next 12 months, the next 24 months.

Making this assessment now will save you a lot of time and hassle in the future when you want to be focussing on growth – not on rebuilding the tech that runs your marketing and sales pipeline.

To finish…

As you build and design your marketing and sales pipeline, which is essentially the journey that your audience goes on to become loyal customers (and the infrastructure around it), take time to ensure you have addressed these three key components.

This way you have in place a pipeline that is going to support your business as it grows and is ready to scale

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