Continuing with our series on why your sales team holds the key to content marketing, we’ll look more closely at the content or inbound marketing funnel. We focus on what customers need to find (see, read, watch, listen to) to move them on to the next stage in the customer journey.

Marketers are seldom customer-facing and don’t get to spend time with clients the way the sales team does. Or customer services, account managers, service engineers and so on. There has never been a better time to work more closely together.

Sales and Marketing and the Inbound Funnel

The content or inbound marketing funnel is different to the traditional sales funnel, but will be familiar to most of you.

The traditional model of customer acquisition is: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.

This mirrors the traditional sales funnel: Suspect, Prospect, Lead, Customer.

But with the inbound funnel, we’re just as focused on what we do for the customer after they have converted, as the journey that leads them to that point. At each stage of that journey, we’ll be developing the relationship, gathering data and hopefully building insight.

ToFu – Top of Funnel

Content Marketing is used for brand awareness (the top of sales funnel, people haven’t heard of you or only vaguely know what you do). This was previously the main function of advertising. Customer Acquisition – getting people to convert – is the next function of content marketing. These people are ready to buy from you.

inbound marketing funnel
inbound marketing funnel is made up of ToFu, MoFu and BoFu


Content marketing is little, regular provocations: a post on LinkedIn, an infographic, a piece of content (such as a video or eBook) which you share on Facebook or a download from your website, and is designed to help you to keep in touch with the customer at every stage of the buyer journey.

It’s also about nurturing the customer to become a promoter, an advocate for the brand’s products and services. Working with you has made them happy, so they tell everyone else. Not only that, but if you create good content, they will share it for you.

There are different types of action you want people to take as they go through the funnel (or journey), and therefore you need to create different kinds of content for them.

If you’re looking to attract new people to your website, you will want to invest time and money in blogging, video, social media, email marketing and keywords, with a well-optimised website and good landing pages.

When someone visits your website, do you make it clear what you want them to do? Do you have good Calls to Action on your pages and dedicated landing pages designed to convert them into a sale or to sign up for something.

Sharing great stuff with them – great content, social media and email marketing – means you can sell more to that customer and encourage them to enlist new customers by becoming promoters.

MoFu – Middle of Funnel

When it comes to closing the leads, some of this may take place online, but this is often where the sales team comes in – either via email, on the phone or in person.

“The sales function is vital, and this is often how people will sign on the dotted line or make a purchase from you.”

Equally important is customer engagement. It costs businesses twenty times more to bring in a new customer, so bear in mind those costs, and the value of keeping the customers you’ve already won. It’s not just the on-sell, up-sell and lifetime relationship, but also the value of referrals.

“What’s REALLY important is the stage at the bottom of the inbound funnel.”

BoFu – Bottom of Funnel

In traditional marketing, when someone becomes your customer, the personal insight the sales person has gathered from them imay not captured anywhere. (Don’t forget, any data you store on a customer must be shared with them if they ask – this is a legal requirement).

This customer insight, how they think and feel and what makes them tick, or why they chose you over everyone else, isn’t always fed back by the sales team to the marketing team.

“Do you know what’s keeping your customer awake at night?”

The customer journey has changed

People skip through TV ads, they don’t like direct mail and are likely to unsubscribe from your company email. If this is what they’re doing, then we need to find a way to appear in their online journey at some point, with a variety of content.

The balance of power now sits very firmly in the hands of the customer.  Online reviews, on sites such as Trip Advisor, Which and Trust Pilot, help to build ‘social proof’. They are frequently visited when people are deciding on making purchases for themselves, their homes and their businesses. We all do it, and ask friends for their opinions too before making a decision.

Customers have a lot of choice and are empowered to leave reviews. This can become a spectator sport, with people making complaints without really wanting a resolution, they’re just trying to get a rise out of you. Aim to enlist your customers as promoters.

How will they know they can trust you?

Think about your customer and the kind of information they want – they want you to be more transparent and open. Everyone has been burned by something they bought online, which looked great but was disappointing in real life. Building trust is harder than ever.

You need to answer their questions somewhere, ideally on your website with a piece of content or on social media. If customers can’t find the answers, they’ll move on immediately and probably won’t be back.

Shifting sands

This power shift between consumer and brand has changed the way we do business and marketing, but it’s also had a huge impact on the way we manage sales. The sales team is in pole position, because their insights and customer experience help bridge gap.

We’ll be looking at how to involve the sales team more in your content marketing in this series of blogs.

What key insights can marketers learn from the sales team?

It’s not easy to get sales and marketing working in harmony but we share tips and real life examples from the sales and marketing teams we’ve worked with – saving you time, money and heartache.

We hope you’ve enjoyed Content Marketing and the Inbound Funnel. Why not check out the other blogs in the series:

Or if video is your preferred content type, click here to view the recording.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.


Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash