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.
The last step in the sales funnel is to keep your momentum going. Follow up with all the new customers you have acquired and ensure they are happy with their product or service. A great way to accomplish this is to offer a membership-based rewards program. This will allow you to remain in contact with customers, giving you the perfect means for telling them about new deals and services.
OK, so really there are 11 steps to creating your sales funnel, but 10 just sounded more “precise”!  Lastly, your email system should tell you how successful your emails are. Use this information to tweak and improve them over time.  You should also track your blog posts, Twitter followers and Twitter activity, Facebook ad success, etc. Hubspot is a great tool for this kind of thing.
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.
“Aligning marketing and sales during the sales funnel does more than just align the teams — it creates better business outcomes,” said Mathew Sweezey, Principal of Marketing Insights at Salesforce. His stance is validated by a SiriusDecisions study that found brands with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieve 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth. The three easiest ways to ensure marketing and sales alignment will succeed is a common language, co-created shared programs, and a policy to abide by a service level agreement.
As you can probably imagine, this sort of thing is particularly frustrating if you’re selling an expensive product or service, but you can even see it happen with something as simple as deciding where to go for lunch. For example, if you’re hungry and in a hurry, you might pick the closest restaurant. But, if a friend asks where you’re going and says, “Oh, that’s where I got food poisoning last week”, there’s a good chance you’ll end up going somewhere else.
Eric Siu is the CEO of digital marketing agency Single Grain, which has helped companies such as Amazon, Uber and Salesforce acquire more customers, and co-founder of ClickFlow, an SEO experimentation tool that helps you increase your Google ranking. He also hosts two podcasts: Marketing School with Neil Patel and Growth Everywhere, an entrepreneurial podcast where he dissects growth levers that help businesses scale. Follow him on Twitter @ericosiu
One of the core concepts in the digital marketing industry is the sales funnel. While odd sounding at first, this single core concept can take a business from virtually non-existent and unknown to multi-million-dollar marketing machine with mass saturation, seemingly overnight. In fact, there are skilled practitioners who have built a career around implementing this single concept in business.  
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