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The sales funnel metaphor is somewhat misleading; in real life, the process never goes as smoothly as liquid down a funnel. In the last decade, digital marketing, artificial intelligence (AI), and CRM have drastically changed the process of converting new leads into customers. Given this, it’s increasingly important that business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing teams are aligned in their views on a sales funnel strategy and lead generation as a whole.
The entrance to the CVS funnel combines a massive physical footprint with a growing digital presence. CVS has about 10,000 retail stores. Eighty percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a CVS store. With the expansion of CVS’s HealthHUBs to 1,500 locations, one analysis suggests that 75 percent of Americans would live within 10 miles of a HealthHUB. In addition, CVS/Aetna has access to about 18 million Aetna medical insurance members in all 50 states. On the digital front, CVS has 62 million loyalty program members whose purchasing patterns can be tracked and who can be the target of tailored promotions.
Depending on what you’re selling and who you’re marketing to, you might answer that question in a number of different ways. For example, if customer service is a big deal to your potential customers, you may want to focus your marketing on how great your customer service is. You might want to include testimonials about your customer service, awards your customer service department has won, statistics about response times…you get the idea.
Content that introduces the company and intrigues potential customers enough to move to the next stage of the buying process. For example, a Facebook post called “Behind the Scenes at Molly Marketer’s Company. This works especially well if you have a company with a corporate citizenship mission, such as selling sustainable, environmentally friendly goods.
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Robert Izquierdo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Apple, Starbucks, and Tesla and recommends the following options: short November 2020 $85 calls on Starbucks. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
However, video conferencing and other apps offer an opportunity to engage prospects at a time and place that suits them. In fact, 60% of sales reps say they spend more time selling virtually than they did in 2015, according to the third edition of Salesforce’s global “State of Sales” study. Meanwhile, 52% of sales reps say they spend the same amount of time or less meeting with customers in person.
Sales and marketing teams need to adapt to these increasing demands. They have to work more closely together. While the marketing team still hands leads to the sales team at a point in the funnel, they have to stay involved to maximize customer retention and advocacy. The sales team needs to be involved early on, providing the benefits of their customer knowledge to help increase qualified leads and conversions.
For different types of businesses, buyer needs at the problem/need recognition stage – top of  the funnel (TOFU) – are different. If you’re running a consulting business, for example, then your clients already realize that they’re having certain problems around your service area – like a high cost per lead (if you’re in marketing) or disorganized spending (if you’re in accounting).

Armed with extensive online information, a modern buyer requires different skills from a salesperson and frequently exhibits different behavior than buyers of the past. A modern buyer may get very excited about a purchase and spend a lot of time in the research phase and then abruptly stop, ending the sales process sometimes without any reason at all. Often, modern buyers want to reduce the friction of buying and using a product to make it easy for them to achieve the value.


If you're wondering what a sales funnel is, simply imagine a real-world funnel. At the top of that funnel, some substance is poured in, which filters down towards one finite destination. In sales, something similar occurs. At the top, lots of visitors arrive who may enter your funnel. However, unlike the real-world funnel, not all who enter the sales funnel will reemerge out from the other end. 
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