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Inbound Marketing Blog

    SMarketing Insight: Defining Your Sales Funnels

    Posted by Bill Faeth

    This blog was originally published in June of 2015; we have since updated it to reflect the most current and relevant information. 

    The importance of creating cohesion between your sales and marketing teams has been understood for a while.

    After all, companies that have tried to bridge the age-old gap between their sales and marketing teams experience up to 20% annual revenue growth, compared to companies who don't.

    Confusion and lack of strategy between your sales and marketing efforts can lead to the pursuit of unqualified leads, effectively wasting both teams' valuable time.

    Through defining your sales funnels, you can create uniform language and clear definitions of success for your sales and marketing departments

    Check out these steps for aligning your sales funnels and getting your sales and marketing teams on the same page. 

    Determine What a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) Looks Like

    What is a Marketing Qualified Lead, exactly? Well, it depends on your company’s particular definition, based on collected data, trends, and the type of customer you are trying to attract.

    Sam Kusinitz at Hubspot defines an MQL as “a lead judged more likely to become a customer based on lead intelligence, often informed by closed loop analytics.”

    Leads that are determined to be “Marketing Qualified,” according to your company's definition, should possess a few key traits and patterns of behavior, each of which will combine to give them a lead score.   

    You might include descriptors for your MQL such as job title, level of interest in your company, and role in the decision making process of a company, such as influencer, buyer or end user. Each of these pieces of information can help aid the process of defining an MQL for your sales and marketing departments, making it easier for everyone to envision and pursue that highly-qualified lead. 

    Determining the definition of a Marketing Qualified Lead is the key point of transition between sales and marketing teams.

    When you’ve determined the definition and attributes of a Marketing Qualified Lead, your teams can move towards defining your sales funnels.

    Implement a Service Level Agreement (SLA)

    Another important piece of the sales funnel puzzle is to establish a Service Level Agreement between your marketing and sales departments.

    The Service Level Agreement (SLA) will help determine what both departments are responsible for in the company’s overall strategy and will also help establish shared goals towards growth and revenue.

    Read More: 3 Tips for Creating an SLA for Your Smarketing Efforts

    Step 1: Determine the Marketing Department’s Accountability

    In this step, you will need to determine how many leads your marketing team must deliver to your sales team to meet an aforementioned quota.

    There are many methods you can use for finding this number. Consult historical data on how many leads your marketing team has traditionally delivered. Also note whether those leads were qualified or unqualified. Calculate the amount of revenue your sales team was able to generate from leads delivered, and scale your numbers accordingly.  


    • You can also consider what percentage of the company’s overall prospecting will be done by each department.

    Your sales department may need to be responsible for a fraction of the prospecting and for obtaining a number of the leads they’ll need to meet their quota.

    Step 2: Determine the Sales Department’s Accountability

    To determine your Sales Department’s Accountability in the Service Level Agreement, you’ll need to determine how quickly a sales rep should follow up with a Marketing Qualified Lead. You will also need to determine how many attempts at contact your sales rep should make with all MQL’s of a certain qualification.

    With this information on hand, you can determine how many attempts at contact your sales team should complete each month. This will also help you determine how many of those attempts should be converted to sales. 

    You might also place requirements on the number of highly-qualified leads your sales team should be converting to customers each month. Because these leads have already expressed interest in your company and engaged with bottom-of-the-funnel content, your sales team should be instituting processes for regularly reaching out to and converting those leads to customers. 

    Step 3: Determine SLA in Dollar Value

    In order to determine the Service Level Agreement in dollar values, you’ll need to take the percentage of sales’ quota that your marketing department is responsible for every month.

    Say for instance, this amount equals $200,000.

    Once you’ve determined this amount, you’ll need to calculate the value of each Marketing Qualified Lead. With the value of an MQL in mind, you can then determine how many leads your marketing department is required to deliver each month, to reach the total amount you’ve designated for their monthly quota.

    Each of these steps is a crucial element of success in aligning your marketing and sales departments. They can help catapult your company towards better relationships with customers and leads, better handling of Marketing Qualified Leads and more revenue overall. 


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    Topics: Sales