Understanding the marketing and sales process – how to go from lead generation to a closed sale – is absolutely critical to the success of B2B startups. A good, but oversimplified way to understand this process is the traditional graphic of the sales funnel, with leads at the top and sales and the bottom. Steve Patrizi, a veteran marketing and sales executive, has a great blog post about the changes in the B2B marketing and sales process.
Why I say this funnel is an oversimplification is that it ignores the players in the sales process: the end user (the person who actually uses the product or service), the economic decision maker (the person who actually cuts or approves the check or P.O. for the purchase) and influencers, those within the buying group who have a say in selecting the product, such at the IT department when it comes to software.
The exercise I give to founders is to put numbers into the sales funnel: how many leads can they generate (and what are the marketing tools to generate those leads) and how many sales will eventually result from those leads. But how to do sales projections is the subject for another post.
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