First, a common language needs to be set up to ensure marketing knows when a lead should be moved from marketing’s control, and placed in the sales funnel. There are two terms, "marketing-qualified lead" (MQL) and "sales-qualified lead" (SQL) or “sales-accepted-lead,” which all sales funnels must embrace to keep both teams aligned. When marketing has a lead ready to talk to sales, the lead should be marked as an MQL, meaning marketing has gotten it to the point where they believe sales should take over. If sales agree the lead is sales-ready, they accept the lead and move it from MQL to SQL (or SAL), and the handoff is complete. If not, the lead goes back to marketing.
One quick word of caution, though. With every piece of content you create for every stage of your funnel, you’re generating data. Though all of it is useful to your sales process in some way, it’s easy to get bogged down in data and metrics tracking instead of focusing on the few key performance indicators (KPIs) that will actually give you the information needed to make meaningful improvements.
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% new sessions: this will tell you what portion of the traffic that your site receives comes from new visitors (those who haven’t previously visited your site.) You want this metric to be high so you know that you are consistently bringing new people to your site. However, if this number is too high, it can mean that you are not doing a good enough job of bringing people back to your website. 
If you don’t know much about SEO, there’s a great course about SEO available here, but basically, this is the practice of making sure your blog posts or other website pages show up in search results when someone types in a certain phrase. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to find keywords in your industry that have a high volume of searches and a low level of competition, though keep in mind that “competition” in Keyword Planner only tracks competition for paid ads, so it might not be the best indication at competition for general search engine results. Moz is a great tool to check out if you’re interested in doing more keyword research on competition.
After you’ve mapped out your prospect’s experience, make sure they align with your team’s pipeline stages. You can do this on paper or in CRM software like Salesforce Essentials. Sales pipeline stages are stages in your sales process, while your sales funnel stages are the stages in your customer journey. Refer to our article on how to create an effective sales plan for more information about pipeline stages and how they relate to your sales strategy.
How to get started: Look through your most popular blog post, video, podcast episode and turn that content into a lead magnet. If you have several related pieces of content that perform really well, you can consider combining them into an ebook. If you don’t have content yet, think of a simple resource that your audience would value enough to give you their email address: worksheets, cheatsheets, and checklists are all easy to create and perform really well as lead magnets. Then, you can use a free tool like Canva to turn that content into a lead magnet. You can also grab the lead magnets templates included we created for you. 
But, once you have enough experience to be eligible (and are likely itching for a promotion), they start marketing to you. It might be email marketing or an email list-based retargeting campaign, but these graduate programs do their level best to get back on your radar. It’s a long-term play, but it’s one that works incredibly well because the schools know exactly when their students are “ready to buy” again.
Once you’ve collected leads, it’s time to segment, which essentially means that your splitting the list of names into smaller lists. The first an most obvious split to make is into prospects (people who might buy) and non-prospects (people who won’t buy). After that, though, you might still have a huge list of leads that never make their way down your sales funnel. Why? You aren’t segmenting!
Disclaimer: Reviews on FitSmallBusiness.com are the product of independent research by our writers, researchers, and editorial team. User reviews and comments are contributions from independent users not affiliated with FitSmallBusiness.com's editorial team. Banks, issuers, credit card companies, and other product & service providers are not responsible for any content posted on FitSmallBusiness.com. As such, they do not endorse or guarantee any posted comments or reviews. Like Ask a Question
Here, I’ll explain what you need to know about the marketing funnel, and I’ll dive into recent changes and rising challenges for marketers. I’ll compare B2C and B2B uses of the funnel, break down the hype around the marketing vs. sales ownership debate, explain how the funnel can be flipped to create more leads, and explore nonlinear approaches to the funnel.
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