Marketing

Understanding the B2B Sales Funnel 

Sohan Karuna
May 17, 2022

Understanding the B2B Sales Funnel 

When it comes to B2B marketing, qualifying your sales leads is not an easy job. Given the several steps involved in a B2B customer journey, visualizing each one as a funnel can be insightful (and actionable). It identifies what’s helping and hurting conversion rates along a prospect’s journey to becoming a customer. Which in turn, helps optimize the journey and improve conversion rates.

What is a B2B Sales Funnel?

A B2B sales funnel is a visual model that illustrates a prospect’s journey. The funnel graphically represents the proportion of prospects present in all stages. It can also represent customer engagement and break down each interaction from first-touch to deal-won. Here’s why a B2B funnel differs from a B2C funnel: 

      

  • Unlike in B2C, a B2B prospect is composed of several decision-makers who would have to greenlight an investment.
  • The sales cycle in B2B is considerably longer than a B2C one. This is not only because of the layers of approval required but also the meticulous research, review, and demos, and larger contract values.
  • In a B2B endeavor, customer retention and the need to build a long-term relationship with clients are critical for long term success. Hence, brand building is placed on a pedestal for B2B customer engagement.

BREAKING DOWN THE STAGES OF THE FUNNEL

Several terms exist for the different stages of the funnels. Functionally, however, most of them are relatively synonyms. For the sake of simplicity, a B2B sales funnel can be divided into 3 levels:

1. Top of Funnel (ToFu)

2. Middle of Funnel (MoFu)

3. Bottom of Funnel (BoFu)

Top of sales funnel

The top of funnel level deals with the awareness and interest stage in a prospect’s journey. The objective of this stage is to consistently bring in fresh, new traffic. At this stage, prospects may not be entirely aware of the problem you’re solving. From a B2B standpoint, this not only involves your advertising, but is heavily centered around content marketing, educational content creation, & building a strong organic presence.

B2B prospects commonly require significant nurturing before going further down the funnel. For example, a company like Salesforce revolves their content strategy around CRM among other things educating prospects on all things CRM related and more.

Here are some marketing efforts that are common at B2B TOFU:

1. Content marketing

2. Blogs

3. Podcasts

4. E-Books

5. Videos

6. Infographics

7. Industry statistics

8. Search Engine Optimisation

9. Online advertisements, Pay Per Click

10. Email marketing

Here’s are some ToFU metrics to look out for:

1. Number of site visits

2. Average pageview time

3. Bounce rate

4. Keyword ranking

5. Click-through rate

6. Domain authority

7. Content conversion rate

8. Email open rate

 

Middle of Sales Funnel

This level of the funnel corresponds with the engagement stage of a prospect’s journey. After creating awareness and defining the problem, prospects would now evaluate their solutions. At this stage, you would need to build your brand authority and elucidate how your solution is the superior option.

The approach to marketing changes at this level. Here, content becomes increasingly brand-oriented and employs lead magnets or gated content to bolster your brand authority. This can also be ensured by hosting webinars, events, and live-demos. MoFu blogs also tend to be more product heavy as opposed to industry-specific.

 

Here are some marketing efforts that are common in B2B MOFU:

1. Webinars

2. Product-oriented blogs and comparisons

3. Video demonstrations of the product

4. White papers

5. Newsletters

6. Email subscriptions

7. Retargeting ads

8. Surveys

9. Free trials

10. Reviews

 

Bottom of Sales Funnel

Not to be confused with the expression “being at the bottom of the barrel”. The bottom of the funnel is a crucial stage in the buyer’s journey. It’s where you would ultimately want to guide all your prospects towards. It is known as the conversion stage because at this stage prospects make a purchasing decision and possibly convert into customers.

It must be noted that bottom of funnel prospects can vary depending on your conversion goal. It could even include prospects that sign up for a demo, make an account, mail a product query, or anything that expresses high engagement with the brand or product. Based on historical trends, you could identify which conversion goal is conducive to a prospect becoming an MQL, an SAL, or an SQL. 

At this level, the sales team starts to get involved. It’s the combined effort of sales and marketing that ultimately onboard customers through promotional offers and strategies. Considering the B2B sales cycle, this is still a long, arduous process. The bottom of the funnel also helps form the ideal client profile which serves in identifying target accounts with ABM (account-based marketing).

 

In Conclusion…

The stages of a B2B marketing funnel are diverse. Each stage adopts different types of content strategy, tactics, interactions, and analytics. This makes it all the more essential to compartmentalize efforts into an organized funnel, making the process disciplined.

The funnel not only keeps track of your prospects at each level but also identifies different pain points that limit prospects from moving down the funnel. Measuring your funnel helps distinguish your leads better too, which can be quite useful given that 79% of MQL are never converted to sales.

From a B2B angle, the funnel highlights the importance of efforts like SEO, building domain authority for TOFU and long-form product heavy blogs for MOFU, etc. Given the nature of B2B prospects, all these factors contribute to the movement down the funnel.

 

Newsletter

Get the latest best practices in Marketing Analytics
delivered to your inbox. You don't want to miss this!!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.