Yes, You Need One; Every Company Should Be Looking At Combining Inbound Sales And Inbound Marketing Into One Revenue-Driving Effort
In November, I wrote an article about full funnel marketing and sales. The article was so well read that it made sense to follow up with an article about what a full funnel agency looks like.
After all, the agency community is getting extremely crowded and the number of different types of agencies is also increasing exponentially. Today there are digital agencies, inbound marketing agencies, social media agencies, search agencies, paid media agencies, website design shops, strategic marketing firms and marketing messaging agencies, not to mention all the traditional advertising agencies.
I can see how selecting an agency is getting increasingly more difficult. When the agencies don’t know what they do and what they do well, how are you expected to select the one that meets your specific goals? In this article, I’ll explain what a full funnel agency is and help you decide if this might be right for you.
What Does 'Full Funnel' Mean?
Google “full funnel agency” or even “what is full funnel sales and marketing” and you’ll find that while the listings are robust, a little pointing and clicking uncovers that very few people actually know. Even the agencies using the name “full funnel” have little or nothing on their sites to help us understand what exactly it means.
The article on our website does make a nice attempt, but now 60 days later, I’m looking to do an even better job of explaining it to all of you.
Full funnel has two meanings. First, you’re doing so well with your sales and marketing execution that you have a full funnel. Having more prospects at every step of the marketing and sales process means that your cup (or in this case, your funnel) runneth over.
Second, you’re applying inbound sales techniques and marketing tactics to ALL aspects of the funnel to deliver an efficient funnel. This means that your funnel might not be overflowing, but it is producing the right number of new customers and revenue at the bottom, so that you blow right by your revenue goals.
We prefer the second definition because a lot of crappy leads is no better than not enough leads. In fact, it might be worse, because you’re not investing a ton of time following up on people who will never hire or select your company.
What Executables Would A Full Funnel Agency Deliver?
Now that we have a better idea of what a full funnel means, let’s look at what a full funnel agency does. Looking at a complete funnel means looking at the top of the funnel, or the people visiting your website. This is clearly the very top of the funnel. A full funnel agency would need to be good at driving new people to your website from all the relevant sources. That seems like an obvious first step.
The agency would then need to help you create a website that delivers an amazing experience, because without it, you’ll have no hope of converting any of those visitors into prospects. Again, if it’s a full funnel agency, then it needs to provide services at every step of the funnel.
While a great website is wonderful, getting people to move from anonymous visitors into prospects or marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) requires content on your site so that people want to convert and share contact information with you. The full funnel agency would need to help you create the content, use it on the site to drive conversions, and be able to optimize both content and conversions to continue to fill up your funnel.
The agency would then be around to help you turn the MQLs into sales-qualified leads (SQLs), right? That would require solid understanding and the ability to deploy nurturing campaigns and offers on the website that encourage people who might only be a marketing-qualified lead to ask to speak with one of your sales reps, turning them immediately from an MQL to an SQL.
Now that sales has the SQL, a full funnel agency should be around to optimize that sales process too. It should be able to help with communication, disruption of the status quo so the prospect takes action with your company, educational information and sales process improvement. After all, a full funnel agency should be able to help you convert SQLs into sales opportunities.
The agency should also help you turn those sales opportunities into customers. That might entail reviewing your proposals, the way you give recommendations, your presentation decks and your contracts — all the important assets at the back of the funnel that sometimes make or break your chances to close the deal.
You can see that full funnel agencies would need to be extremely experienced in a wide variety of techniques in both the sales and marketing area. Such an agency might also be able to help with the application of technology like CRM selection, implementation, configuration and optimization, or marketing automation selection, implementation and optimization. In short, if software tools can add efficiency, data and improvements to the prospect’s experience, the agency should be helpful in this area too.
What Business Results Is A Full Funnel Agency On The Hook For?
This is a great topic and a wonderful question to ask any agency you’re talking to. Today’s funnel is filled with numbers. We mentioned some of them above, like website visitors. This is the ultimate top of the funnel, so your full funnel agency should be accountable for the top of the funnel.
But it should also be on the hook for all the numbers that move down into the funnel, like conversion rates at every step of the funnel and the actual leads moving through the funnel, like MQLs, SQLs, sales opportunities, proposals submitted, number of new customers and revenue from new customers.
This is the scorecard any full funnel agency should be producing on a monthly basis, and you should be looking for improvements month over month in the stage numbers and the conversion rate from stage to stage.
How To Know If You Should Be Looking For A Full Funnel Agency
Remember, a ton of agencies are out there. They comes in all shapes and sizes, and they do all kinds of work. You might only need an agency to help you with your website or to write some content to help you get found on the search engines.
If you think a full funnel agency is right for you, then you should be looking for a team that can help you with marketing and sales execution. In addition to helping you fill up the top of the funnel with website visitors, it should also be able to help you close those visitors that filter down and become sales opportunities. Is that something you want help with? Are you willing to change the way you sell your products or services? Because that’s what a full funnel agency should want to do.
A full funnel agency should be looking at your sales process, your sales documents, your sales emails, your CRM, your reference process, your final contract documents and how you get the signatures on those. It should be looking at your entire sales and marketing activities with a microscope and giving you recommendations to make the entire process more effective and more efficient.
How To Select Or Evaluate A Full Funnel Shop
Assuming you like the sound of this, now you’re ready to identify, screen and select the right full funnel agency for your company. Since you’re looking for more than marketing and more than just sales support, your job might be a little more complicated.
You want to make sure your agency has experience delivering both sales and marketing services. Most have just started delivering sales services, so digging into this area is important. How many sales engagements has the agency done? With what clients? What results have those clients seen? How long did it take to get those results? How many people at the agency specialize in the sales enablement area vs. the marketing area? These questions are great for helping uncover the agency’s true level of expertise.
You’ll want to look at a variety of other criteria as well. We’ve included a handful of suggestions and recommendations on our “evaluating agencies” page, so check it out. The bottom line is that you need to know what you want and what you’re looking for before you get started. Once you have three or four agencies in the mix, it might be hard to differentiate them from each other, but if you’ve prioritized what you want and how you want to work with them, it’s going to be easier to pick the one that works best for you.
Regardless of what type of agency you’re looking for, make sure business results are at the core of the outcomes you expect. Everyone knows how to blog, but do they know how to blog to increase visitors month over month? Everyone knows you need a website, but do they build websites that convert and drive leads? Everyone knows you need a CRM, but do they help you create deal stages, email templates and then manage the funnel to drive improved conversion rates over time?
If the agency can do that, it can go by any name it chooses — full funnel, inbound, digital, etc. The bottom line is that you’re getting the results you expect and the agency is working with you to improve your business.
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