I’ve seen too many lead-to-revenue initiatives underperform because insufficient attention was devoted to process. And, I’ve seen an equal number stall because the attempt to document the current state and define the future state leads to analysis-paralysis. It’s not fair to say that marketing organizations run their demand management completely without process. What most marketing organizations don’t have, however, is a consistent, end-to-end process to manage a single customer from lead origination to purchase, which is the heart of lead-to-revenue management. And for that, I blame the funnel.
The “lead funnel” (the universal model for demand management) gets well-deserved celebrity for giving B2B marketers a metaphor to communicate the relevance of marketing activities to revenue production. The funnel’s clearly defined stage gates (MQL, SQL, SAL, etc.) give marketing the basis to collaborate with sales on lead management. The funnel makes it easy to snapshot the health of the end-to-end pipeline. But, as a construct for thinking about the lead-to-revenue process, the funnel fails spectacularly. In this blog, I'll introduce an alternative metaphor, the Lead-to-Advocate Escalator. But, first, here’s what wrong with the funnel (and funnel derivatives like the waterfall).