You require a well-structured B2B marketing funnel to generate new sales leads, nurture existing ones, and close more deals.
On the other hand, the route through the B2B buyer’s journey can be lengthy and challenging, involving several supplier engagements and too many marketing channels.
B2B sales cycles are frequently too long in contrast with B2C. It requires prospective customers to be nurtured for months and even years before they become sales opportunities or actual customers.
Digital marketing and automation systems have expanded the potential for providing accurate and personalized solutions to your potential customers (prospects and leads) across all engagements. Thus, an optimized B2b marketing funnel will create a sustainable purchasing experience at each stage of the buyer’s journey, guiding them toward the eventual purchase.
Using a marketing funnel enables you to run a clean, smart, and effective B2B marketing operation, raising lead conversion rates and generating more revenue.
What is the B2B marketing funnel?
The marketing funnel definition expresses the graphical portrayal of the B2B buyer’s purchase journey. The marketing funnel diagram depicts the various stages of an entire customer buying experience as they progress through the marketing and sales processes.
The funnel diagram is often referred to by names such as customer funnel, purchase funnel, customer experience, and conversion funnel in the industrial sector.
In plain terms, the marketing funnel monitors a B2B customer’s progression from lead to prospect to a loyal customer.
For instance, a prospective B2B customer may discover you by searching for a specific phrase, an online advertisement, or social media. He finds the knowledge (technical content) he seeks while browsing your website and registers to download additional resources.
Once a subscriber is added to your list, he is nurtured through the lead nurturing process until he decides to purchase your product/service. He then becomes a pleased and loyal customer who tells his colleagues and associates about your brand.
The process is repeated when new B2B leads are generated, nurtured, and converted to paying regular customers. For B2B marketers, the marketing funnel illustrates critical steps that guide us to move prospects through the sales process.
Marketing funnel model in B2B marketing
The B2B marketing funnel comprises two phases: lead generation and conversion. While the lead generation stage can be automated, the conversion stage requires personal interactions. This is because the B2B sales cycle includes many decision-makers throughout the process, from lead qualification to negotiating mutual conditions to clinch the purchase.
Marketing and sales teams should collaborate to develop an effective marketing funnel for B2B transactions. Unfortunately, that is frequently far harder than it sounds. However, technology enables the dismantling of boundaries between sales and marketing, eliminating waste of time, enhancing inter-team communication, and simplifying everyone’s job.
More importantly, it allows seller companies to provide the seamless purchasing experience that B2B customers demand.
B2B marketing funnels can be used to automate virtually any customer engagement on your website. You need a marketing funnel if you want to increase brand awareness, generate new leads and sales growth. Therefore, the funnel strategy is an effective marketing tool for highlighting each stage of your business relationship with the customer.
Measurable and quantifiable
Quantifiable metrics are one of the most crucial benefits of a B2B marketing funnel. The funnel might indicate where you’re losing consumers, allowing you to refocus your marketing strategy. For instance, if you’re losing potential customers before they reach the second stage of your funnel, you require a stronger brand recognition campaign.
Because the funnel is quantifiable, you can forecast sales volume as it progresses through the funnel. Digital marketing is inextricably linked to numbers. They can aid in the improvement of existing strategies and the development of new ones. A funnel enables you to forecast your volume by indicating how many clients advance to the subsequent phases.
You can also use a marketing funnel to discover trouble areas. A funnel model can assist in detecting problematic products or services. When potential buyers quit the funnel, their exit point can be traced back to their left stage, revealing the cause. This information can be used to develop an effective marketing strategy.
Marketing vs sales funnel
The distinction between the marketing and sales funnel is significant; however, these definitions are frequently confusing and difficult to recognize. The only important difference between these B2B marketing tools appears to be their purpose and context of use.
Sales and marketing are typically two separate activities. Each has its own distinct journey map outlining the path taken by a prospective customer. Interest is generated by marketing, and the bottom of its funnel corresponds to the top of the sales funnel. As a result, the sales funnel is fueled by marketing efforts that raise awareness and drive demand for the product.
Many organizations, however, are combining these tasks, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between the B2B sales strategy and marketing approach. Additionally, businesses are developing bespoke phases for each funnel to expedite their operations. As a result, the distinction between marketing and sales funnels has become blurred.
A deep and lengthy discussion on the difference between a marketing funnel and a sales funnel can go on all day. It’s worth noting, though, that marketing and sales are quite similar in many aspects. For example, both are psychological activities that need financial investment and are aimed toward profit.
A marketing funnel promotes a product (good or service) to persuade leads to purchase. On the other hand, building a sales funnel focuses on your prospects (from the marketing funnel), persuading them to buy not just once but as repeatedly as possible.
Advantages of B2B marketing funnel
While the B2B marketing funnel has evolved, it remains important. Any B2B vendor (manufacturer, supplier, dealer, or wholesaler) should use this effective tool. Implementing this tool can assist with the following:
- Convert leads generated from inbound marketing to customers
- Ensure that your sales and marketing activities are in sync.
- Enhance your branding by implementing techniques that are more sensitive to the demands of your buyers.
- Increase your lead generation and customer acquisition performance
Barriers to overcome by sales and marketing
Sales and marketing departments should handle the following challenges to get the purchase.
- Produce tailored technical content that appeals to and meets the customers’ requirements
- Develop and sustain interactions with prospects
- Convince prospective customers to conduct business with you by developing persuasive B2B sales and marketing techniques across several channels.
By capturing the unique requirements to improve the sales pipeline, the B2B marketing funnel enables businesses to analyze their marketing efforts and reach their target audience more effectively. As a result, sales prospecting and lead generation success rates increase significantly.
B2C vs B2B marketing
Before we continue, it’s critical to define the differences between B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) marketing.
Typically, the marketing funnel is focused on introducing a brand to a range of prospective customers. Its primary objective is to attract leads on behalf of customer acquisition.
Once such leads are found and demonstrate an interest in the product (good or service), they are directed through the prospecting funnel. The lead then converts to a sales prospect. On the other hand, the B2B funnel flow chart demonstrates the process by which a sales prospect progresses from the initial marketing stage to conversion.
1. Purchasing behaviour in B2B
Decision-making behavior is maybe the most significant difference between B2C and B2B marketing. Most B2C consumers travel through the funnel alone or with a limited group of advisers (such as family and friends), whereas B2B buyers work with a broader, cross-departmental purchasing team.
In other words, a prospective customer in a B2B scenario typically consists of a team of highly analytical and competent actors who determine whether or not to make the purchase.
B2B customers keep staring for solutions that will help them grow their business and increase their profits. That is why B2B customers place a premium on factors such as the value of your product, your brand reputation, and your after-sales customer service.
As a result, you must establish your value offer and cultivate relationships with key individuals within a target buyer company.
On the other side, B2C buyers aim to enhance their own or their loved ones’ lives. Nevertheless, the purchase is for personal use. The incentive can be the product’s utility. Still, it can also be pleasure, attractiveness, prestige, reputation, or any other psychological motivation.
Consumers often make purchasing decisions by themselves in the B2C market. While people may be swayed by friends, family members, or social influencers, the final choice is ultimately theirs.
When it comes to B2B customers, purchases are frequently made in groups.You must appeal to a specific demographic within a prospective company. This could be a board of directors, a department, a committee, or upper-level management.
Even though a single individual makes the ultimate decision, the purchase will be examined by a group. You can target a broad range of customers in B2C since virtually everyone might be a possible customer.
However, with B2B marketing, you must focus on decision-makers and other critical individuals who impact those decisions within a business.
III. Decision process
B2B purchasers make purchasing decisions based on logic and reasoning. However, on the B2C side, decisions are frequently made emotionally and on the spur of the moment.
B2B clients must examine the value of your product/service and its impact on corporate operations and performance. To be evaluated, you must demonstrate that your solution would increase the company’s productivity, efficiency, economy, and profitability.
However, the primary deciding factor is the ROI (Return On Investment). Because each purchase made by a business is an investment, the return must be larger than the cost. Therefore, B2B purchasers will research your solutions with an eye toward ROI.
Additionally, digital marketing can assist in delivering the appropriate information to the relevant people in the proper time to stimulate purchasing decisions. That is why digital marketing tactics such as inbound and account-based marketing have proliferated (ABM).
2. The B2C cycle is shorter than the B2B cycle
Consider the following scenario to demonstrate the B2C cycle. A buyer enters an e-commerce platform, notices a suitcase, reads customer reviews, perhaps solicits approval from several buddies, and buys the product. It’s completed.
On either hand, B2B customers demand a lengthier sales cycle. For instance, a production manager of an industrial facility recognizes the need for an automation system and begins researching.
Finally, he discovers a company that offers what he is looking for, finds different competing brands that broaden his research, convenes company stakeholders to consider the purchase, contacts a sales representative, requests additional information, and decides whether or not to invest.
However, the cycle is not complete at this time. (It is never completed!) So this brings us to our final point.
3. Customer retention aspect of B2B
According to the scenarios above, customer retention is less important in B2C settings than in B2B. For example, once the suitcase lady has checked out an item from the company’s website, she may or may not contact the brand again.
Unless she lodges a complaint or requests a refund, the company has little to no need to communicate with her except to sell her a new product.
These distinctions become apparent when we go into the intricacies of the B2B sales funnel. While there are some parallels, we have to design the marketing funnel primarily in terms of B2B.
Perspective of B2B marketing strategies
Both outbound and inbound marketing are critical functions that enable B2B companies to improve their market presence and establish a competitive advantage.
Even so, a marketing funnel is a structure that takes prospective customers through their whole purchasing journey, from their initial interaction with a brand to the point at which they acquire the desire to purchase a product or service.
B2B marketing funnel is well-known for letting organizations envision their buyer’s journey and develop an effective marketing plan inside a regulated environment. It is separated into two distinct segments:
Lead generation for sales includes the development of marketing strategies aimed at increasing brand awareness. For example, trade exhibitions, inbound marketing activities, technical content marketing, industrial publications, online advertisements, direct email marketing, and whitepapers are all utilized to sell a company’s products (goods or services).
The following stage is lead nurturing once a sales lead expresses interest in a brand (or products). This is the stage at which a company attempts to develop a fruitful relationship with a prospect.
The prospective customer is educated towards the product or service through customized information designed to entice them to purchase. For example; the concept of B2B content marketing funnel can be used to educate potential customers about a brand.
B2B marketing funnel stages
1. Awareness Stage
This stage is about attracting all potential clients into the funnel by increasing awareness of your company’s brand, product, and services.
Your marketing plan should incorporate any measure that enables you to connect with new prospects on appropriate channels to raise awareness. This can be accomplished by using sponsored marketing on social media and search engines or through organic growth.
However, for the best results, I normally suggest combining paid and organic marketing. For instance, when combined with good SEO, PPC advertising on Google may help you generate visitors to your website and increase brand memory and trust by ranking first on the result page.
Guest posting on industry-specific sites where your potential customers spend their time is another excellent way to raise exposure among the existing customer base and potential customers.
2. Interest stage
After leads are produced, they go to the interest stage. They discover more about the organization, its products (goods or services), solutions, and any useful information or research provided by the supplier company. This is a chance for B2B companies to build rapport with the individuals in their prospect database and introduce their proposition.
Marketers may nurture leads via email, more tailored material based on sectors and brands, courses, and newsletters, among other methods.
Interest is the initial step of the purchasing process, during which confidence is established. At this phase, lead nurturing is focused on improving the buyer’s perception of your organization.
3. Consideration Stage
Leads have been turned into MQL (marketing qualified leads) at the consideration stage. They are now considered prospective customers. Marketing team should educate prospects about products and offers with marketing funnel automation while nurturing them with valuable technical content, field case studies, and free trials.
4. Intent stage
Once a lead reaches the intent stage, they will interact with your sales team. This may involve product demos, sales presentations, and clear communication demonstrating that you grasp the buyer’s problem points and are interested in assisting them in coming up with a solution.
The nature of correlation and trust that you establish at this point is critical to the sales lead proceeding to the next stage of the funnel.
Prospects should indicate an interest in purchasing a company’s product (good or service) to get to the intent stage. This can happen during a questionnaire, following a product demonstration, or in an industrial exhibition.
Intent stage is a chance for marketers to create a compelling argument for why their solution is the best alternative for the prospective customer.
5. Evaluation stage
During the intent stage, you’ve solidly determined the buyer’s interest. Now is the moment to demonstrate how your solution is the ideal fit for their requirements. To further establish trust, now is the time to inform customers if your offer is not optimal for them.
Integrity at this stage may pay an award in the long run, even if your product or service does not currently fulfill the customer’s requirements.
Prospective customers make a purchase decision during the evaluation stage on whether or not to purchase a company’s product or service. Typically, sales and marketing teams work closely to affect the buyer’s decision-making process and persuade the customer that their company’s offering is the best option.
6. Purchase stage
Purchase is the final stage of the B2B marketing funnel, where a prospect decides to purchase and becomes a customer. This is the point at which the sales team handles the purchase process. Again, a pleasant buyer experience results in customer referrals that feed the top of the funnel, and the cycle repeats.
The purchase stage is the final phase in a conventional funnel. The PO (Purchase Order) is created, or the purchase commitment is approved. However, simply because money and product exchange hands does not indicate that the B2B marketing funnel has come to an end.
Not only does post-purchase interaction keep the customers satisfied, but it also fills the funnel and is critical for creating a B2B sales pipeline. That’s because the vast majority of B2B sales begin with a referral from an associate or colleague, and a referral sales lead converts 35% more effectively.
Conclusion on B2B marketing funnel
It’s almost certain that the methods customers use to locate information and the overall marketing funnel are evolving. Now, gaining a better understanding of our customers and the target market, their entry points into the buyer’s journey.
The intent behind their requests will help build each company’s unique funnel and how they convert prospects to customers and possibly brand advocates.
Always keep in mind that in B2B, you can only succeed by effectively educating your prospects about their challenges and the solutions you’re providing, not by leaving them in the darkness.
Therefore, throughout your B2B marketing funnel, ensure that you provide the greatest materials to educate your prospect, guiding them to the next level and eventually becoming loyal customers.