March 16, 2011
How To

B2B Marketing: The FUEL methodology outlined

SUMMARY: The B2B Marketing/Sales funnel is complex and covers lead generation through the actual sale. Too often, B2B marketers focus on lead generation in quantity, but neglect elements such as qualifying and nurturing those leads. Elements that provide Sales with prospects who are ready to buy.

Jen Doyle, MarketingSherpa's Senior Research Analyst, has created a practical, four-stage step-by-step methodology for B2B marketers.
by David Kirkpatrick, Reporter

Many B2B marketers focus on the top of the funnel, looking to find and attract leads, sometimes emphasizing quantity over quality. But the most effective marketers focus on maximizing efficiencies at every step of the complex B2B sale.

When authoring the MarketingSherpa 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, Jen Doyle, Senior Research Analyst, uncovered a number of challenges that were becoming more pertinent to B2B marketers:
o Generating high-quality leads for Sales
o Generating a high volume of leads
o Marketing to a lengthening field cycle
o Marketing to a growing committee of buyers

Doyle created the FUEL methodology as a direct response to these issues. This four-stage process is a practical methodology for B2B marketers.

She said, "It's really a step-by-step methodology, and it's fully comprehensive. It's not something where you want to execute one piece as a silo -- the plan is meant to be used in its entirety. One piece alone is not really going to accelerate your pipeline for you."

She continued to explain that different organizations are going to have B2B buying stages and funnels of various complexities, and the FUEL methodology was designed to be applicable to all B2B marketing efforts.

She added that marketers who are overly focused on the top of the funnel and lead generation could possibly see very dramatic results after actively working to improve the entire sales funnel by applying the FUEL methodology.

Stage #1. F -- Find and attract leads

This is the top of the sales funnel, and the focus of many B2B marketers. Sales needs leads, and Marketing finds and attracts those leads.

This stage has a number of distinct elements to improve lead generation:
o Develop buyer personas
o Develop a value proposition
o Determine inbound and outbound marketing tactics

Doyle said, "You want to consider a number of different tactics, and then we will talk to you about how you can develop your mix. How you can determine which tactics are going to work best for your organization. In this step, we actually walk organizations through developing their entire marketing mix."

Stage #2. U -- Uncover qualified leads

After successful lead generation, the CRM will be full of many leads, but not all will be sales-ready.

There are steps to take in order to rank newly generated leads and uncover the quality leads:
o Foremost is collaborating with Sales to improve Sales/Marketing alignment
o Define different types of leads, (e.g., a phone-ready lead compared vs. a phone-accepted lead)
o Sales and Marketing need to agree on qualified lead definitions
o Develop a lead scoring methodology to qualify leads
o With lead scoring and qualification in place, lead nurturing becomes important

Taken together these steps map the Marketing/Sales funnel, and define roles for each business function based on agreed upon definitions.

"Leads that come through from your lead generation campaigns that are sales-ready, that do meet the grade, those are going to get immediately passed to sales teams," stated Doyle.

"But for those that don't meet the grade, it's Marketing's responsibility to nurture those leads and deliver them with content that's going to increase their interest level until they are ready to speak with a sales person."

Stage #3. E -- Establish automated marketing processes

Doyle said, "Once you have established your lead scoring and nurturing campaigns and methodologies it's going to be very difficult to execute this manually, so you really need to establish automated processes to implement your marketing efforts."

The key element in this stage is identifying the marketing automation needs of each individual business so when that business begins evaluating various marketing automation solutions to implement they have a set group of questions to be answered by each vendor.

Doyle added an entire marketing automation stage to her methodology because managing the complexities of adding lead scoring, qualification and nurturing to the lead generation process almost always requires some amount of automation.

She explains, "If you are a one-person entity and five leads a month are enough for you, then you can probably do this manually, but for the majority of organizations, in order to effectively execute lead scoring and lead nurturing campaigns, you really need it to be automated."

Stage #4. L -- Lift results

At this stage, hopefully the hard work of improving the entire Marketing/Sales funnel pays off in lifted results.

This is also the stage where everything starts over for continued optimization. The processes through the funnel should be producing better results, but it remains important to keep optimizing your marketing campaigns to keep lifting results. Optimization is a continual process.

"It's a cyclical process -- it's not a one-and-done deal," said Doyle. "You want to continually measure your results and optimize the performance of lead generation, your campaigns, your lead scoring methodology and your lead nurturing campaigns."

Several elements help evaluate and strengthen the entire sales funnel:
o Apply marketing analytics to evaluate performance
o Review tactics that are important to Marketing's role
o Convey Marketing's value to the rest of the organization
o Continue to hone Marketing's leadership

You can learn more about Jen Doyle's FUEL methodology in the MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing Advanced Practices Handbook. And between May and October, Doyle will present workshops in six cities around the U.S. (Dates/locations to be announced soon. Please check back often.)

Useful links related to this article

Upcoming Webinar -- How to FUEL Marketing Effectiveness from Lead Generation to Sales Conversion

2011 B2B Marketing Advanced Practices Handbook

2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report

Members Library -- Getting Sales and Marketing into the Same Room: Marketing automation implementation spurs successful integration process

Members Library -- Special Report: 8 Criteria for Choosing a Lead Scoring/Marketing Automation Vendor

B2B Marketing: What to look for in 2011

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