The sales team is perfect for engaging prospects at the point of readiness, answering questions, making presentations, overcoming objections and ultimately getting the final contract signed. Before all that, the “mad men” in marketing should be doing the heavy lifting.

When we think of what sales people can do to improve their funnel, it starts with working closely with marketing. Contrary to popular belief, the marketing team isn’t there to be an emergency hotline for a piece of collateral. They can be best leveraged in the strategic planning process to proactively plan and deliver messaging, tools, software and tracking that enable sales to succeed.

Here’s what our list would be if we were making a to-do list for keeping the funnel full:

  1. First, Think Like the Client — You would be stunned at how many sales people do not think about their solutions in terms of audiences and pain points. Instead, our self-interested sellers frame everything by their own products/solutions. Start boosting your funnel and plugging the leaks by taking a step back and figuring out the track your prospects are on, the journey they will take to discover your type of solution, and what they need to understand to determine if your version of the solution is best.
  2. Inventory Your Bag of Tricks — Once you’ve better defined your prospects’ points of view in step 1, it’s time to see what resources and tools you have to attract, engage and convert them. The good news is, you may have content that needs to be re-cast to address their needs at certain points in the journey. For example, you may have a case study, but you really need a checklist that can be used at the top of the funnel. In your inventory, start with what you need, then list what you have, and finally identify what’s missing.
  3. Fish in the Right Pond — When you have gone through the processes identified in 1 & 2, you’ll have an excellent sense of the “fish” you want and the “bait” you need to catch them. Now it’s a matter of where to find a big enough population of prospects that can benefit from your solutions. Instead of using search engine marketing strategies or following the difficult path of cold calling, take an outbound focus where you’re creating campaigns that attract your key audiences.
  4. If at First You Don’t Succeed — Companies often have a gold mine in their inactive lead lists. Their databases are chalk full of potentially qualified prospects who may have been lacking in one area of “BANT” (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing), but would still be highly relevant to engage and nurture. Why not get those “oh so close” leads out of sight, but not out of mind, with a re-engagement campaign? You can even set scoring rules in your marketing automation platform that measure their “readiness” so you know when to follow-up for optimal timing.
  5. Be Like E.F. Hutton — When you talk, people listen. Don’t just be a cheesy Glengarry Glen Ross sales person who’s annoying and always shamelessly pitching. Stop and take the time to offer insights, commentary, and analysis, both your own and in relation to industry goings-on that key audiences care about. Build your own personal brand with LinkedIn posts, articles on your company’s blog/newsletter, decks on SlideShare, etc.
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“Always Be Closing” sounds great, but the mindset doesn’t always lead to high sales.

Are you getting any bites on your B2B sales line?

Keeping your B2B marketing plan on track with a full funnel may not be a walk in the park. However, it can be a much more manageable initiative with the suggestions here made possible by marketing automation software like Act-On. With the tools in a system like Act-On, tasks like creating personalized targeted emails, lead nurturing/scoring, and cross-channel tracking bring you closer to making sure leads don’t slip through the cracks. As Comlinked rightly said, a CRM is a key success factor in maintaining a full B2B sales funnel.

With the integration possibilities for marketing automation software with a CRM, you can automate your sales and marketing processes with easy-to-build smart campaigns. Start beefing up your B2B sales funnel with the help of smart strategies and the right tools.