A quick Google search will prove how the sales funnel – and who owns it – is an oft-discussed topic – and quite frankly, it’s been a bit over-debated. The war between sales and marketing is irrelevant and (to put it more bluntly) the focus shouldn’t be about who “owns” the funnel, rather how the funnel is driven by many different elements.
Consider this analogy: the funnel is like a child. A child’s success is not solely dependent on his/her parents; there are many other aspects such as socioeconomic level, education system, peer groups, and the media that shape a child’s experiences and decisions, and pave the way for his/her achievements in life. In parallel, the funnel is formed and influenced by different technologies that work together to drive traffic, conversions, and revenue. Therefore, there is not one specific thing that’s responsible for the funnel’s outcome.
The amount of money spent by organizations on implementing new technologies to optimize the funnel is staggering. IDC forecasts spending on CRM applications will reach $31.7 billion in 2018, while marketing technology spending will increase from $20.2 billion in 2014 to $32.4 billion in 2018. But why are these numbers rising? Because companies, especially B2B, want to keep a stable pulse on their marketing, sales, customer experience, or any data that can push leads in the right direction and help increase revenue.
If we take a closer look at the funnel, then the technologies used across it can be split into two main buckets– marketing and sales. In the top of the funnel (TOFU), marketers use many technologies including SEO tools, Google Adwords to help increase the traffic coming into the funnel, and in the middle of the funnel (MOFU) marketers use marketing automation platforms to better nurture the leads through email marketing. Toward the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), salespeople implement various technologies such as Salesforce to capture data on leads, manage selling opportunities and close more deals.
Going back to the analogy earlier: while there are many aspects that influence a child’s success, parents are the primary predictors. So while there are different pieces of software that form the funnel and help marketing and sales succeed at their activities, there is one ultimate discipline that plays a major role in every stage of the funnel and is utilized by both marketing and sales — that’s social media.
The Role of Social Media in the Funnel
Today, social media is a key channel in spreading brand awareness, amplifying a company’s message, connecting with prospects, and collecting data on customers. It is thus a fundamental aspect of every single part of the sales funnel – the TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU.
In the TOFU and MOFU marketers utilize social media to distribute their brand content including blogs, guest posts, case studies, webinars etc. in order to drive more traffic to the company’s website. Using a social media management platform with a built-in advocacy solution, marketers can start the funnel strong by easily providing customer facing employees, such as salespeople, with the relevant content to share on their personal networks in order to amplify the company’s reach while positioning themselves as thought-leaders. As a result, sales people will make the most of social media at the BOFU to attract qualified leads and turn them into customers.
The bottom-line is that sales and marketing need to work together to leverage social media properly. Salespeople serve as valuable brand advocates in that they humanize the perception of the company, and make customers feel that there’s a real person out there to provide them with a solution. However, it is up to marketing to create content that aligns with salespeople’s network. Their combined effort will help to increase traffic and conversion rate across the funnel, in turn helping the company increase revenue-flow.
Your Data Shouldn’t Live In a Silo
At the end of the day, taking advantage of the power of social media to improve the sales funnel is one of the most important decisions that a company can make. But, in order for marketing and sales teams to do a better job, the data gathered from social media needs to be integrated with the rest of the company’s softwares. For example, a marketer using Google Analytics can view the number of website visits, but he lacks the data to be able to attribute those visits to social media, let alone to a specific network, profile, or post the visitor came from.
With all of these technologies at their disposal, one of the major issues companies face is data-flow. Siloed data prevents organizations from painting a bigger and clearer picture of their marketing ecosystem and stops them from optimizing their processes at every stage of the funnel.
By implementing a data-centric social media management platform such as Oktopost, B2B companies can bring marketing and sales’ efforts together and enable integration between different softwares. On one hand, marketers will natively connect their social lead data with any of the major marketing automation platforms such as Marketo, Act-On, Eloqua, Pardot, and Salesfusion, for enhanced lead nurturing and scoring programs. On the other hand, salespeople will be able to incorporate social data to their CRM tool for better communication with leads and higher selling opportunities.