The marketing industry has a new buzzword – flipped sales funnel or account-based marketing (ABM) sales funnel. The concept gained more traction during a marketing event in Atlanta.
What is this flipped ABM sales funnel and how different is it from the traditional sales funnel?
As B2B marketers are already aware, the traditional sales funnel flows like this:
In the awareness stage, prospects notice a pain point and want to find out more about it.
Here’s a neat way to understand what happens in the Awareness stage:
- Recognize a need
- Research and seek information
- Refine the problem (make it clearer and more specific)
It is important to take the necessary steps to ensure that your brand is visible and can be picked up on a potential customer’s radar. Putting out content that answers common questions asked by prospects in the awareness stage is one way of attracting them.
Prospects have narrowed the problem down and are learning about possible solutions. Prospects will also begin to check out the products/solutions of possible vendors(including your company), and they compare which one fits their needs best.
This summarizes what leads do in the Consideration stage:
- Estimate potential impact
- Explore valid solutions
- Evaluate each option
Decision or Purchase
Prospects have chosen a solution and are comparing potential vendors. The final stage when your target becomes a buyer.
These key points best describe the Decision stage:
- Compare solution providers
- Consult all stakeholders
- Choose a vendor
The flipped ABM sales funnel works similarly, but the focus is different. If in the traditional sales funnel you focus on prospects and try to qualify them, the flipped sales funnel encourages marketers to focus on the company’s decision maker within an account and engage them, so they become your brand advocates.
A Closer Look at the Flipped ABM Sales Funnel
Just like the traditional sales funnel, the flipped ABM sales funnel also has four stages – identify, expand, engage, convert.
Let’s take a closer look at each of them:
Identify companies and contacts
As mentioned earlier in the article, this kind of funnel focuses on several decision makers in your target accounts. In other words, you have to identify and profile multiple points of contact.
First, determine how many accounts match your ideal account profile (IAP). An IAP is a company that perfectly fits your solution. Then, identify who the decision makers are and the role they play in the purchase process.
This visual guide goes over the process of selecting and profiling high-value accounts.
Expand contacts within target accounts
Once you created the dream company (account) you have for your solution, you need to expand by adding more contacts to it. The contacts are the people who will use the products and service you have.
It is indeed the exact opposite of the traditional sales funnel where you have to start outside (qualifying the leads) and inside (create the account). More so, the flipped sales funnel shortens the process because you start with the key person.
Engage prospects using a multi-channel lead generation approach
Engagement is the primary step in traditional marketing to make your prospect aware of your brand; however, it comes third in the flipped sales funnel. Like in traditional marketing, you have to utilize all the marketing channels at your disposal to engage your prospect.
At this point, you already know who your key target contacts are; thus, you can personalize your campaign and target their needs, pain points, and motivations more specifically. And that gives you a better chance of winning them to your side.
Convert into leads, customers and brand advocates
Nurture and follow up each interested decision maker in order to move them into later stages of the sales process. Make sure to leverage marketing automation to deliver personalized messages in context.
Giving your customer a tailor-made experience as they journey through the sales process makes the journey enjoyable. Moreover, the personalized service makes them feel important. Consequently, a happy customer will tell others about their experience with you, making them an advocate of your brand.
Meeting Halfway for Better Success
The principle presented in the flipped sales funnel is perfect; however, there’s not a lot of evidence that can prove that it works perfectly and brings more results than the traditional sales funnel. But that doesn’t mean we will scratch the idea. No one should be more open to new ideas and strategies than marketers.
Joseph Jaffe, one of the speakers in that event, has a better suggestion – integrate the traditional and flipped sales funnel together. Jaffe, as if by a stroke of fate, wrote a book a few years earlier with the same title – Flip the Funnel.
Although it’s not exactly as the flipped sales funnel, the idea he presented in his book is similar. In his book, he mentioned about creating new advocates but using a few resources. Instead, the majority of spending should focus more on retaining your current customers. In so doing, you are building your customers to become raging fans. And we all know how passionate fans are, especially if you can capture their hearts and minds. They become your advocates, your brand evangelists – look at how Apple fanboys and fangirls.