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Revenue Operations

Funnel Fiascos! What Not To Do (And How to Fix It)

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Thank you to RevOps Co-op partner, CaliberMind, for sponsoring this roundtable on an important and often challenging topic: funnels. Join us for an expert look at what to do right at the start, pitfalls to avoid and how to fix the issues you’re dealing with in your existing funnels. You’ll hear from Camela Thompson, VP of Marketing with CaliberMind; Nic Zangre, VP of Customer Success with CaliberMind; Charlie Saunders, Co-Founder of CS2 Marketing; and Brooke Bartos, Director of Demand Generation and Operations at Invoice Cloud.

CaliberMind ran an independent survey that found the primary function of funnels was to increase efficiency in cross-functional handoffs and the sales process itself. So naturally, we hosted a Roundtable with them and other experts to divulge some of the “funnel fiascos” they’ve seen in their careers and explain how businesses use funnels to improve bookings.

Cross-functional alignment points

“If you think about a funnel, it includes a lot of teams,” says Charlie. “You’ve got the marketing team, the sales team, customer service, the upsell–and sometimes the product team.”

He says that alignment is the goal with funnels from creation to using the data after it’s developed. When teams aren’t aligned on data definitions, you don’t have a good foundation. The first step is aligning on how to capture each stage to ensure everyone is rowing in the same direction so the boat doesn’t just circle round and round.

(Yes, that vision you have of things going down the drain is accurate.)

“It’s useless if the whole team doesn’t understand the purpose, how you want to build it, and how you’re thinking about it,” he says.

Garbage in, garbage out

When alignment is missing, measurement doesn’t work.

“Not to sound trite, but it’s garbage in, garbage out,” says Nic.

While funnels used to be about sales opportunity stages and then grew to include marketing, now they include workstreams for customer success and signals from the product.

“The fallout [of misalignment] is bad measurement,” he adds. “It means arguments every time you have to create a board deck, which results in misinformed decisions based on bad data.”

Sales + Marketing = Success. Unless Sales and Marketing don’t agree, then <skull and crossbones emoji?>

Camela explains that because sales and marketing see their funnels differently, it often leads to problems.

“It’s certainly a challenge,” says Brooke. “Even more so when you add in that sales is focusing on accounts and opportunities. Marketing is looking at leads and a lead funnel. Speaking the same language is certainly a challenge.”

Adding on other technologies with other stage names or definitions that may not align with your sales organization will make things a whole lot worse.

And don’t think there’s consistency within each of these departments either.

“It is really important that SDRs are setting meetings the same way so that when the account executive picks it up and creates an opportunity, it’s tracked consistently,” says Nic.

Sales isn’t the only department going rogue. If marketing tries to create a funnel in a silo, they’ll have a funnel–but one that doesn’t align with how other departments view the world.

“And if sales is going rogue and creating opportunities in the wrong way, then you see the funnel end there,” Charlie says. “Now you’ve got a disconnected funnel and that whole process hasn’t been tracked end to end.”

Where do SDRs come in?

The panelists were asked about where SDRs (aka inside sales teams) should sit and Camela took a stab at answering.

“My answer will be a little controversial and then I’ll let other people weigh in,” she says. “I think it depends on the size of your company and who has the most time because that inside sales team are usually new to their career.”

She sees benefits in them sitting under marketing because there is real-time feedback on whether messaging is resonating and a lot of the tactics inside sales teams use today have a lot in common with what marketing does (can anyone say, “Cold email prospecting”?).

Camela may have thought she was being controversial, but Brooke agreed with her take, while adding she’s seen it be successful both ways.

“I think there’s certainly a lot more to your organization’s communication style and the executive structure that determines where that person is best seated,” she adds.

Nic agrees, saying executive alignment needs to be right in order to create the right reporting structures – be they formal or informal.

Should SDRs keep their hands off creating opportunities?

Whether AEs create opportunities solely or SDRs do so as well will depend upon how opportunities are defined.

“We’ve been seeing a rise of stage zero opportunities lately,” says Nic. “It helps them when they have one place to collaborate on a deal.”

“You create the opportunity at stage zero with maybe a 5% probability and then you stamp your stages,” says Camela. “It’s much easier to calculate a conversion rate from that meeting set to qualification.”

Charlie notes that if SDRs are creating a lot of stages for meetings or leads, there has to be some sort of governance over it.

“Either way, you’re going to end up with either a lot of ops or a lot of leads or a lot of meetings that end up going nowhere,” he says.

Favorite Tools

An ABM Intent tool is one of Brooke’s favorite things to incorporate into the top of the funnel.

“Intent information paired with advertising information for targeting and actually going out and starting to build in that top of funnel,” she says.

Her next tool is content – how it’s being promoted and distributed.

“Something like Path Factory or Uber Flip, some sort of a content hub where your content is structured,” she adds.

Personalizing and tailoring the customer journey helps build on the attraction phase.

“And then, what are you empowering your SDR and sales teams with?” Brooke asks.

How are salespeople using content to communicate? Adding a location for sales-focused content then standardizing contracts and the processes for later stage deals is mission critical.

While Charlie is thinking specifically about Salesforce, he points out the struggle of uniting information at the account level. It’s hard to create a single view that appeals to both sales and marketing.

“It’s difficult when you have a lead funnel that needs to be combined with a revenue funnel,” he says. “You’ll have to track initial interest, then the meeting opportunity, to pipeline to revenue.”

He adds that unless people are using a tool like CaliberMind (remember he’s not from CaliberMind, so this isn’t a shameless plug 😊 ) basing tracking on timestamps is problematic because they live on both leads, contacts, and opportunities (and sometimes accounts!).

“It’s very difficult to get accurate conversion rate analytics out of that,” he says.

“This is not going to work unless you have some type of backbone that has the whole timeline across objects that could be in Salesforce, a data warehouse, etc.,” says Nic.

He adds that data enrichment tools need to be added into the mix. Qualification is critical.

Look, B2B people are still people

All this data and tracking sometimes forgets what Camela brought up – “We’re still interacting with people.”

That means the individuals within the account matter. Sales needs to be aware of those who put their hands up. So when you aim to unify your funnel data at the account level, don’t forget that sales needs to know who is engaging at the account. Sometimes two funnels (person-based and account-based) are better than one.

Check out the entire video for more insights on multiple product lines, breakout groups with Q&As for those that have never set up a funnel and those with funnels that need help, and more. 

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