Part 1: Mapping the Buyer’s Journey to the Funnel

Jess Cody

“Marketing ops customer is sales,” says Chris Willis, Marketing Operations Leader at Trimble. Marketing ops teams are responsible for delivering the right leads at the right time with the right context to their sales teams. And, as Chris pointed out, “in a system that is easy to use.”  

And, on the flip side, Chris shared, “sales teams need to understand what marketing is doing. They need to be as versed in marketing campaigns as the VP of Marketing.” 


Creating sales and marketing alignment requires understanding and communication on both sides. Driving alignment involves discussing priorities together, setting up helpful and relevant lead management systems, holding each other accountable through SLAs, scheduling regular meetings, and tracking the right metrics (more on all of that here 😉).To help drive more robust sales and marketing alignment, we are kicking off a three-part series covering tried and true ops plays. First up – mapping the buyer’s journey to the funnel.


Mapping the Buyer’s Journey to the Funnel

A great starting point in your lead management infrastructure is mapping the buyer’s journey phases (awareness, consideration, decision - quick refresher here) to lead management stages in the funnel. “There is no wrong way. It is dependent on your organization,” says Hana Jacover, Director of Marketing Technology at Unreal Digital Group. The key is aligning sales and marketing teams and always having the buyer’s journey in mind to drive towards the right actions throughout the funnel. 

Below is what we’ve seen to be typical in many organizations, but different industries, company sizes, and more may have different ways of dividing up the funnel (or flywheel or any customer lifecycle shape/diagram you prefer). 

Mapping the Buyer's Journey to the Funnel


Technical Plays to Map the Buyer’s Journey to the Funnel

Here’s how we suggest putting that into practice to track engagement across the buyer journey and understand how it impacts your funnel overall.

  1. Tag content based on voice and offer. This initiative may fall under another function like content marketing, but it is important for marketing ops to be involved and, at a minimum, understand the mapping to apply it to the funnel. Starting small is better than not starting at all. “Don't worry about tagging everything,” says Drew Noel, Head of Professional Services at MadKudu. Consider the content types and offers you have in your content library – think blogs, webinars, ebooks, website pages, and more. Get a list of links and resources and categorize them in a spreadsheet to then start attributing to stages in the funnel (awareness, consideration, decision) or if you’re interested in another framework, I really like this search motivation framework from John Bonini, Director of Marketing at Databox.
  1. Add a buyer journey stage (Awareness, Consideration, Decision) as a custom field on the Campaign Object in the CRM or as a tag in your marketing automation platform. 
  1. Add buyer journey stage to custom UTM parameters. Include tags in inbound links from paid channels, content links, and emails.
  1. Create a program or campaign in your marketing automation platform to listen for inbound tags.
  1. Update Campaign Membership in your CRM Based on tags so that you can see engagement points across the buyer journey. 

Drew suggests building a campaign with campaign members report in Salesforce to report on the operational components you've put into place.

Get the full playbook for more technical plays to drive sales and marketing alignment.

Defining Funnel Ownership

While mapping the buyer’s journey phases to stages in the funnel, it is also an opportunity to define funnel ownership, including marketing areas of responsibility and sale areas of responsibility.  

While the division is not black and white (it is a shared initiative), understanding the primary point of contact helps drive the right actions. This exercise also helps set the stage for further lead management and, ultimately, SLAs, understanding who is responsible for what. 


Defining Funnel Ownership


Technical Plays: Lead Routing & Assignment 

  1. Use a tool like LeanData or your CRM to set assignment rules.
  1. Trigger logic to bridge your marketing automation platform to your CRM (especially for PLG companies).
  1. Utilize queues to manage ownership and visibility and enable a 1:1 relationship between your CRM and your MAP. Use queues if things aren’t ready to be assigned to reps directly.
  1. Track the history on the lead owner in the CRM.
  1. Set date stamp workflows for Last Lead Assignment Date (people only - exclude queues).


Whether you already have robust tracking to map the buyer’s journey to the funnel or you’re just getting started, hopefully, this gives you some ideas to take your sales and marketing alignment to the next level. 

Stay tuned for part 2 on setting and defining lead status and stages! 

Can’t wait for part 2? Get the complete sales and marketing alignment playbook for a deep dive into lead management, SLAs, meetings, metrics, and more. 


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