The “messy middle” of the marketing funnel is arguably the most problematic stage of lead generation for companies focused on target account selling in B2B markets. In enterprise sales, and even mid-market selling, what starts as a promising sales qualified lead  (SQL) will often stall in the Middle of the Funnel (MOFU). Sales is frustrated because the contacts at their account aren’t calling back and, even with a well-conceived, content-rich lead nurture program in place, the prospects at the account stop engaging. What are you doing wrong?

Probably nothing. In fact, it’s pretty normal. Why?

Because in the digital marketing age, the buyers’ journey is not the same as your sales cycle. When your company makes contact with a person at an account for the first time via Marketing, they are likely early in their process. If your Sales team follows best practice with a quick follow up, education–not purchase– is most likely the prospect’s goal.

The truth is, what we all really want is to rush from Top of the Funnel (TOFU) to Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) and skip the MOFU step, visualized nicely here by Marketo. But that’s not realistic in most cases.

MOFU

When a sales representative creates an opportunity based on a promising SQL, that’s a big step. The person who represented the SQL is now a contact at an account. In B2B sales, an account is rarely represented by one person. Instead, there are a group of individuals, working for the same company, that have to collectively come to the conclusion that:

  • They have a problem
  • They agree on the nature and importance of the problem
  • The problem is one they really need to solve
  • They need to solve that problem now
  • The best way to solve that problem is to buy a product or service like yours

When a person, or a of couple people, at an account stop talking to your sales rep, the most likely explanation is they are talking to others internally and wrestling with these issues. CEB published a good article on the Consensus Sale in the Harvard Business Review. A key finding is that the number of decision-makers is an average of 5.4 people. Add in all the participants that may influence your sales process, and it becomes pretty daunting. That’s why MOFU can take a while for your buyers to sort through.

As B2B marketing professionals, Journey Mapping is critical to helping our sales teams AND our prospects get through this phase and into the BOFU where deals get done. Journey Mapping is the process of researching our past account wins in detail, and enables us to discover the kinds of internal challenges our prospects face as they go through their buying process. With this understanding, we can equip our sales teams with both in-depth understanding and effective sales tools that facilitate the buyers’ journeys in the types of accounts we sell into. This process also arms marketers with deeper understanding of the common and individual needs of buyer participants (or personas) so we can create content that captures their interests, in a voice that resonates, and helps guide the influencers and decision-makers towards internal alignment. With the insights that come from Journey Mapping, we can do a bang-up job of Account Based Marketing (ABM). And, when we do that, the buyers’ journey will be able to progress and chase away those MOFU Blues.

Interested in learning more about how Akoonu can help you chase the MOFU blues away? Learn more about Akoonu’s Journey Mapping, Messaging, and Content Planning modules for successful Account-based Marketing (ABM).