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ABM Pillar #1:The Bow-Tie Funnel Effect – And Why You Should Care

Carlyn Manly
,
June 29, 2018

With 84% of B2B Marketers believing that Account-Based Marketing (ABM) delivers higher ROI than any other marketing approach and juggernauts like Microsoft embracing the trend – it’s clear that ABM is here to stay. For those who have managed to escape the meaning of the once thought of “buzzword,” the acronym refers to a set of B2B strategies that guide sales and marketing in aligning their efforts and in developing long-term relationships with prospective customers.

Here at Folloze, we believe there are 6 core pillars that are fundamental to executing a successful ABM Engagement strategy: “The Bow-tie Funnel Effect,” “Marketing and Sales Synergy,” “Personalized Experiences Build Sustainable Relationships,” “Ensuring Time to Value,” “Running it at Scale,” and “Always Delight your Customers.” Over the course of this blog series, we will uncover the significance of each of core belief, beginning with the “Bow-Tie Funnel” approach – the first pillar, that we address today.

OUT with the One-sided “Funnel” – IN with the Double-sided “Bow-Tie”

Old vs New

“Marketing and Sales Alignment” – terminology that we’ve heard a million times before – how synergy between the two teams is critical to engaging customers and winning accounts. But traditionally, Marketers have worked with Sales on leads in the conventional "funnel," trying to push those leads through the various stages and through to closed-won. However, in today’s digital marketplace, where practically everything is sold as a service, the days of the one-sided "funnel" are obsolete. Now in this new world, where customers start small and subsequently grow, 70% of organizational revenue actually comes post-initial sale. However, with most marketing activities occurring before the sale, versus after the win, this creates a major disconnect.

Today, to optimize for and sustain revenue growth, Marketers need a new approach. They can no longer allow customers to "exit the funnel” and simply leave them in the hands of Account Executives after they sign a deal. But rather, they need to look at customer lifetime value holistically – enter the “Bow-Tie.” The Bow-Tie approach – essentially, an infinity loop for marketing efforts where a customer is always treated like a lead – ensures that marketers, together with Sales, are constantly providing value and engaging at each stage of the relationship, before, during and after the sale. This meaningful engagement that is responsive to the customer's needs in real-time is what ultimately takes customer relationships to the next level, and has customers advocating on behalf of the brand.

Embracing the Bow-Tie Funnel – An Uphill Battle

Unfortunately, in the current state of digital marketing, most Go-to-Market teams (in part due to organizational structure) are still hard-wired to focus solely on lead creation and landing the initial deal. In fact, only 40% of companies focus equally on both parts of the Bow-Tie funnel. Marketers today can no longer be “missing in action” when it comes to the post-sale revenue cycle. They must change their way of thinking by also marketing for expansion, marketing for customer satisfaction, and marketing for renewals.

Additionally, while valuable new customer success best practices and software solutions have been created to help manage the renewal process, these have in turn reduced sales/marketing’s attention on opportunity development and customer lifetime value. Instead, organizations need to work cross- functionally, in a holistic and collaborative way, to ensure sustainable customer growth.

Lastly, while customer marketing is an increasingly popular function, regrettably it is practiced very minimally at most companies. And when it is, it’s generally centered around providing product and event updates and requesting loyalty – simply tapping customers as references for sales/marketing/PR opportunities. Organizations need to also invest in activities and solutions – like customer advocacy platforms such as Influitive – that can truly turn their best customers into advocates and brand ambassadors. And with automation, the cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) tools working in tandem, even a small company can run a comprehensive ABM operation serving the largest possible clients.  

The Bow-Tie Funnel Effect: Customer Lifetime Value Reigns Supreme

Simply put, today Marketers need to continue working hand-in-hand with Sales and Customer Success long after a prospect becomes a customer, by replacing the traditional funnel with a Bow-Tie and focusing on continual retention and expansion. While embracing CLTV or the “never-ending buyer’s journey” methodology is key in developing forward-thinking and growth-oriented GTM organizations, the practice certainly cannot live in a vacuum. To truly insight an ABM sales and marketing revolution, teams need to also address and adopt additional ABM fundamentals.

Check out the Folloze Board for The Bowtie Funnel Effect for the latest resources.

Stay tuned for our next post in this series, where we will discuss the value of a new connected and synergistic Marketing-Sales strategy.