What if  I told you that even working the top, the middle, and the bottom of your marketing funnel, you have been missing out? Yes, marketing strategies have always been in constant evolution, just like the market as a whole, but perhaps not as fast-paced as in this day and age (Geometric Progression rather than Arithmetic Progression). There are so many tactics, tools, methods and strategies that, if you go by just a few days without studying, chances are you’ll feel left behind.

A more optimistic way to approach this whole evolution is to understand that with the evolution of the terms and processes, you also evolve as a professional – and can take your company to the next level as well.

The newest evolution for the area of marketing and sales comes in the new shape of the old marketing funnel, namely: the hourglass.

From the funnel to the hourglass: the new view on marketing interaction possibilities.

The old sales process

The work of a salesperson used to be the one of creation of a prospects list, trying to reach these prospects, rating the opportunities, negotiating, selling, and then managing different customers.  It is a lot of work for just one person, right? Yes, in fact, that model was known as the one-man-band model.

The funnel-based sales process

Nowadays, that same process is carried out by at least 5 different areas. While the marketing team is in charge of coming up with new clients, the pre-sales team is in charge of reaching out and qualifying new clients, the sales team is responsible for closing deals, the implementation team activates those accounts and the customer service team takes care of retention, upselling and cross-selling. Do you realize it? What was once a one-persoon job, now is a complex work of different areas of expertise, and different metrics altogether.

The Marketing Funnel

If one side of this change has rendered a higher, more refined level of specialization and quality, as teams get LASER focused in only A FEW parts of the process. On the other hand, it has brought a greater need for communication and synergy among different areas. Such areas must fall perfectly in line when it comes to the processes, definitions and mainly to the final goal – which they all need to meet, together!

Would you like to know how to automate marketing accross such areas? Read more: 10 Reasons to use Content Marketing Automation

The evolution from the funnel to the hourglass shape

The marketing funnel concept has emerged as a way of illustrating the steps through which a customer has to go until they close the deal on a service or a product. However, the sales journey does not end with the sale. It goes on after the sales with customer service and customer retention. Seeing this is not so hard: if the customer journey were like a video game, the moment of sales would represent clearing a stage.

At the after-sales stage, the goals change, other challenges emerge and countless opportunities with them. In other words, a new moment in the relationship between the company and the customer begins.

Understanding this process as a whole, brings about new practices, such as:

  • The inter-dependent commission – that is, not only the salesmen get a commission, but the pre-sales, implementation, and every other team involved with the account.
  • The term Smarketing – which is precisely the alignment meetings with different teams in the same company with the intention of getting everyone on the same page.
  • And, finally, the company’s hourglass, which is the graphic representation of the sales journey from the first contact with the customer to the moment where they will also become a sales agent for the company, by referring it to their friends and acquaintances.

The Company’s Hourglass

Therefore, if the idea of a funnel represents the customer’s journey, it must include all points of contact and all areas involved in the process until the ultimate goal has been achieved by everybody, from marketing to customer success, not only marketing and sales.

Read further at: The Starter’s Guide to Process Automation

The hourglass-based content strategy

The hourglass model, makes the participation of all areas throughout the customer’s journey even clearer and bespeaks the need for all these areas to contribute to the same end.  To illustrate even more the power of this synergy, let’s take the content front as an example.

We could spend days discussing the reason why marketing teams should use content. In any case, we can assume that the explanation is a bit self-evident. Both because of the web format and the fact that customers are looking for information online before making any decision in terms of buying stuff, the practice was first used to draw visitors to the companies’ websites. That is, the focus was on the prospection, what would involve mostly a better positioning in organic searches and SEO.

But, the role of content in your company shouldn’t absolutely end there. The idea is to understand that the client, going through all the steps in the relationship with your company, is trying to get information during the whole process. So, we can say that:

  • The visitor is attracted by the informational content and end up getting educated to the point where they become the business opportunity.
  • After being approached by the sales team, this opportunity is converted into a client.
  • As a client, this individual keeps on getting informed about how to take better advantage of the product or service that you are offering.
  • Still as client, they may want to refer your company to a colleague.

To envision this client throughout all these steps makes it easier to understand the importance of a follow-up strategy. This follow-up can be done one-on-one, with consulting talks, it can also be done through support material. Be it written, spoken or visual material, the point is that your client is still consuming content throughout the whole journey and not only on the “attraction” stage, ok?

Read further: What’s Killing Your Content Marketing and How to Save It

In Conclusion

Even if the whole control of the process lies on the marketing team, it is utterly important that the pre-sales, sales and support teams are engaged in the definitions of the goals and strategies. This engagement may happen via suggestion of topics, sharing content or even the production of material. The most interesting thing is that, if on one hand our vision in terms of ways to nourish our clients must follow an ascendant curve, on the other hand, each new way of approaching and having a relationship with a client is a new opportunity for all kinds of new businesses, regardless of the size, budget or the market.