Is it time to consider appointing a Mid-Funnel Agency of Record?

If your mid-funnel is messy, mismanaged or misunderstood, it’s likely you’d benefit from the help of a specialist.

The mid-funnel is where top-of-funnel inquiries are processed and converted into sales-ready leads. It can span months, or even years.

In days gone by, Sales owned the mid-funnel. Marketing simply made the ads, ran the events and printed the brochures. Sales nurtured the relationships with diarized call-backs and the occasional golf day.

Then research revealed that business buyers were self-educating online and forming opinions and making decisions without even talking to a Salesperson. Marketing staked its claim for owning the mid-funnel, introducing sophisticated technology to ‘read’ digital body language and trigger automated lead nurturing programs.

The mid-funnel is a mess

Here’s the challenge. Lead scoring programs and predictive models may be getting more sophisticated, but until you pick up the phone and speak to someone, it’s actually impossible to know if all that digital activity actually signals an intent to purchase.

Most of the lead development teams making those calls are still managed, or at least paid for, by Sales. As such, their sole mandate is to identify sales-ready leads. Make a simple binary determination: lead or non-lead? Follow a linear process: pass the lead forward to Sales, or back to Marketing.

If a contact or account is valid, but not yet ready to buy (and let’s face it, that’s the majority), the lead development team is rarely trained to identify other influencers within the account, they are not set up to make multiple call-backs, and they are not enabled (or incentivized) to capture the data points that could help a marketing team subsequently address the prospect in a more targeted, relevant way.

This siloed approach results in a disjointed experience for the buyer and a highly inefficient marketing model, where leads are lost and have to be re-acquired many times over. Everyone’s a loser.

Shared ownership of lead development

The answer is to think differently about how digital and telemarketing (or Marketing and Sales) work in tandem to provide a single, connected conversation – across channels and over time. The linear lead development process is replaced by a continuous cycle of education and learning, that will eventually result in a highly qualified opportunity.

Build a mid-funnel machine to perpetually nurture leads until they are sales-ready.

In this framework, telequalification is no longer about making 5 ‘sweeps’ in 14 days, before moving on to the next batch of responders. It’s about starting and continuing a two-way conversation to identify needs, determine fit, provide assistance, and facilitate a next step.

Similarly, digital marketing no longer stops when that conversation starts. Instead, it continues to complement, reinforce and amplify the message, while gathering further behavioral data to prompt and provide insight to calling teams.

Sounds good, right? But creating an always-on, data-informed, buyer-centric, mid-funnel machine to perpetually process and generate sales-ready leads is hard. So who do you turn to for help?

Enter the Mid-Funnel Agency of Record (AOR)

There are generalist agencies and there are specialists. Generalists offer a broad range of services under one umbrella, but lack the focus required to master the complexities of the mid-funnel. Specialists may offer deep expertise in a particular marketing channel or technology, but briefing and managing them can be a job in itself.

MarketOne’s specialism is the mid-funnel. We bring together the full stack of capabilities required to make that nurturing machine purr: the data, marketing technology, digital and human conversations, operations and analytics.

It’s no surprise that we’re seeing an increasing number of RFPs from clients seeking a single vendor who can help them master their mid-funnel – whether as Agency of Record, or Advisor in Chief. These companies are choosing to outsource for strategic advantage, not just for cost-savings or flexibility.

5 reasons to choose a single global AOR

  1. Accountability. If there are too many cooks in the kitchen, you’ll find nobody is willing to take responsibility for the taste of the soup.
  2. Infrastructure. The enabling platform: data, technology, website, all operate globally – so should your partner.
  3. Efficiency. There’s no point trying to solve the same problem in different ways across multiple audiences, business units, or geographic markets.
  4. Consistency. When it comes to execution, you’ll benefit from a standardized approach, readily-shared best practices and rolled-up reporting.
  5. Flexibility. The ability to shift spend between geographies or tactics, or between platform or program investments, as the need arises.