Top 3 Steps to Improve Your Marketing and Sales Funnel System



Steve Benson is the Founder & CEO of Badger Maps, a company that provides field salespeople with a mobile, map-based solution, enabling users to sell more in their territory.

Steve joins Renee Yeager to share his Top 3 Steps to Improve the Marketing and Sales Funnel. During their conversation, Steve explains how executives can better increase awareness to drive more leads into the top of the Marketing funnel. He also breaks down how to improve your demoing and overcoming objections in the middle of the funnel. Lastly, Renee and Steve discuss why it’s a huge mistake to neglect “after the close” activities, and shares specifics on tactics to make the customer more successful with your product so that they become true advocates of your product.

Renee Yeager: Well, welcome Steve. Welcome to the top three for tech marketers podcast.

Steve Benson: Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m super excited to be here.

Renee: And we’re super excited to have you. So as I mentioned in the intro, you are the CEO of Badger maps and I was wondering if you could tell our audience a little bit about your company and what you guys do.

Steve: Sure. So Badger, we, we help field salespeople be more effective with their time, and sell more stuff. We’re very focused on this one person, the outside slash field sales person, someone that goes out and meets with their customers face to face. For those of you that aren’t in that industry.

And what we do is we help them be more effective with their time. We build routes for them, we help them build out their schedule, figure out which customers or prospects they should be spending their time focusing on. They have a whole… They’re a very mobile group of people, and there’s a whole bunch of things that we’ve been able to take advantage of the mobile computers in their pockets, their phones, to do cool things for them while they’re on the move.

And that’s the focus of the company.

Renee: That’s really cool. And you know, so many companies use CRM tools, but there really isn’t anything like what you guys do out in the field. Right?

Steve: And that’s what we set out to do. I mean, so CR… We enable a CRM to be better for a field sales team. So CRMs are… When you look at them, it feels like they were built to be used at a desktop or a laptop, right? They’re not really built for mobile.

And so what we can do is… Because we integrate with the CRM, all the things that we do with the rep in the field, all that information and data is flowing back to the CRM automatically so that they don’t… The rep doesn’t have to then go, you know, at the end of the day and sit down and try to remember everything that happened and update all the things in the CRM.

And that’s kind of a constant rub in sales organizations is the company wants the salespeople to give them all the data from what’s going on in the field, and the rep, when they’re in the field, is like, “I’m busy man. I’m running around selling this stuff and I don’t have time to, you know, VPN into the CRM to do the updates in the middle of the day. I’ve got to keep gotta keep moving here.”.

Renee: Yeah. And that efficiency is, you know, can make or break a quarter.

Steve: Oh yeah, for sure. Well these guys, when they’re using Badger, they tend to drive about 20% fewer miles, see about 20-25% more customers, and be better focused on the right customers. So have better coverage and that flows through to being all those efficiency things, make them sell more stuff.

Renee: That’s awesome. So I’m glad we’re talking about efficiency because we’re going to talk more about it.

Steve: Good, good.

Renee: So your top three steps… No, I’m going to edit that out, Steve, just so you know.

Steve: Okay.

Renee: So your top three are… Today’s talk is three steps to improve marketing and sales funnel. And you have some really interesting perspective on this that I hadn’t heard before and I’ve been a marketer for 25 years, so that’s saying something.

Steve: Well, I have a weird… I have a different twist I think than a lot of marketers because my background’s in field sales, and I’ve been kind of running the sales and marketing operations of business for a long time. And that’s because I kind of have this integrated view of sales and marketing where I think a lot of companies… It’s really one or the other.

Renee: Yeah. Yeah. So let’s jump in. So the first step that you recommend to improve the marketing and sales funnel is around increasing awareness and driving more leads to the top of the funnel. So I think a lot of marketers would agree with that statement, but give us your thoughts on how you might do that differently or what’s important there.

Steve: Well, I mean, I think, you know for one, a lot of people… There are a lot of strategies people are using to nurture better. People that you already know that have engaged with your product on some level. You have their email, you have their phone number, things like that. There’s a lot of strategies there.

Steve: I think it’s important not to be too annoying there. I think a lot of people kind of have strategies that if they actually ask themselves, “Would I want someone to do this to me?, the answer would be no. So like the, Oh, we send them seven emails over the course of two weeks. And like I… When someone does that to me, I’m just like unsubscribe, unsubscribe, please for the love of God go away.

And you know, I think it’s important when you’re nurturing a lead or nurturing someone who has not… Has indicated that they’re not ready to engage with the sales cycle yet. You know, they didn’t do a trial, but they gave you their email, they… Whatever it is for your business, right? It’s different in every company that has this kind of group of people who are interested but not that interested.

It’s important I think not to sell them too hard, but to actually provide value to them in your nurturing activities. So give them things that are interesting. Give them resources, like, create… If you know your customer better than a lot of people, right? And maybe one of your… Maybe of 5,000 customers or something, but like, one of them gives you this, this concept, or you learn something from one of them that’s a best practice.

And that you’re able to share with everyone and, you know, and kind of make the… Giving resources and doing research on things that they need is really often very helpful. Creating articles that they would actually want to read is really is important. And I think people then associate good things with your brand if you’re actually creating valuable stuff.

A lot of people throw around a lot of garbage content I think. And really they come at people fast and furious. They give them seven pieces of garbage content within two weeks and just make them hate them. Whereas they could have sent one piece of excellent content, and then a month later sent another piece of excellent content. That doesn’t annoy people, people like that.

Renee: They appreciate it. Yeah. I mean if our goal at the end of the day is to have our sales team, our sales person become that trusted advisor that everyone aims for. That really needs to start at the marketing level, right? So we can-

Steve: I think so.

Renee: Yeah, we can become a trusted advisor by, you know, being mindful in how we market to our customers. To your point, how we help them get better, right? Through education and great resources, and not putting a lot of garbage out there. That’s really, really great advice always. And we… I’m curious for your opinion on this, we talk about this here a lot.

With so many ways to reach people now, we kind of have this thing we say here, you know, let’s meet them where they are. Let’s find out where they are most likely to engage in our content or be receptive to it and community with them there. And not to say you don’t do other things too, right? But just trying to communicate to them in a way that they are going to be most receptive to what you have to say.

Steve: Yeah. And this is such an important point. I think people… What’s… Different people, that’s a different place, right? Like, this one person, one of your customers may really want to engage with your content as a LinkedIn article. Another one of your customers may want to engage with your content as on your blog. Another one is subscribed to your emails and wants to get the access to information that you send out there.

Other people may have searched for this concept on Google and found your found your content there. So if you create a truly excellent piece of content, then you can kind of put it in all these different places. And because people consume… Maybe they’re following you on Twitter or Facebook, who knows, right? Like, they… Wherever…

We just had some piece of content that we made literally a year ago blow up in Australia like it was a fairly tailored piece of content for a…This one topic for field salespeople and it just kind of went viral around Australia, on LinkedIn now. I mean we made it a year ago.

I don’t know why this happened, but like, someone just walked up to my desk [inaudible 00:00:08:54]… Was like, “Oh yeah, we’re getting all these leads from Australia right now because this piece of content that this person made a year ago, just apparently the right person shared it or something.”.

And then it got reshared and reshared, and it just kind of flew around Australia and it’s, you know… And I’m sure when we posted that piece of content on Linkedin, we also posted it on all these other platforms. But that, you know, for some reason it took off… That piece of content took off on that platform in this one region.

And so when you make a piece of content, you can kind of reformat it and sprinkle it around all these different ways that people might consume it. And that doesn’t bore anyone. Because the person that’s following you on Twitter might not be the same… They might not also be on LinkedIn, right?

Renee: Right. Yeah, you brought up a good point too about leveraging content, right? And we talk to our clients about this a lot, you know, how can you take content that you create and cut it up for different purposes and different platforms, right?

So you’re getting your message out there and you’re able to actually extend the work that you’re doing to get more reach by just being thoughtful about, you know, when the content’s being developed, “Hey, how can I use this for Twitter? How could I use this for this? How can I use this…?”. And just trying to get… And you get more bang for your buck that way too.

Steve: Absolutely. And it’s actually really easy to convert stuff. I mean we… The hard work is coming up with a good idea that people… Is valuable enough that people really want to hear about it. And then actually building out a piece on that and then, you know, flipping it from being a blog to an article to a LinkedIn post to a presentation to a, you know, putting the link on Twitter or in an email. That’s all pretty straight forward stuff.

I thought the hard part was coming up with the really good stuff in the first place. And that’s… I think people like to shortcut that part. But if you really know your customer and you really know what they’re interested in, and what their pain points are, and you can address them, people… They tend to respond positively.

Renee: Yeah. Yeah. And making sure you build your reputation around putting good content out there.

Steve: And often you’re an expert in it too. Like, I spend all day thinking about how can our product and how can we as a company make the lives of field salespeople more effective and help them sell more stuff. And I talk to them all the time and you know, there are few people around that are thinking about field salespeople as much as us.

So, and we hear their problems. And so… And often that’s what it’s like when you service a broad group of people… And often that’s how products work, right? You made it, you solved the problem for this group of people, whether it’s a service or a product or whatever. You’re often going after a demographic of, you know, an identifiable group, and you know them better almost anybody because you don’t know… They… You know more of them than they know of them, right?

Like, because you see across their whole industry and across you know… I can compare field sales people from pharmaceutical to med device to field salespeople that sell consumer packaged goods to field salespeople that sell, you know, wine. It’s all… And they have… I can see there’s similar problems and areas where they want help, and things that they want to do better, and then we can create content based on that.

Renee: Yeah. That’s awesome. Your second step for improving this marketing and sales funnel is really, really interesting to me. And I know you said it’s interesting to you too. So let’s drop into that. So this idea of improving your demoing, and overcoming objections in the middle of the funnel. So, you know, field sales does a lot of demoing, right? So talk about that a little bit.

Steve: Sure. Yeah. Actually I have a whole hour long talk I give on this. And to my team I gave it, and also to other people I’ve given it. So I think organizations tend to be excellent at focusing on the top of the funnel. Like, they’re good at figuring out how can we generate more leads, more interest, you know, getting quality… They’re able to count qualified leads and they focus on that.

And they’re also really good at focusing on the bottom of the funnel. You know, how many closed deals are we getting, with the revenue at the bottom. And so a lot of management I think looks at the top of the funnel and counts that number, and the bottom of the funnel and counts that number, and really focuses on those two.

But what’s really driving the value is the stuff that’s happening in the middle of the funnel. And to a lot of organizations, they kind of think of that as magic and they don’t really know where to dig into it because it’s softer. There’s not numbers you can manage by as easily, but…

Renee: Yeah, but that’s how the decisions are being made.

Steve: Exactly. Yeah. The loss… The people that leak out of your funnel in the middle are harder to track. They leak out for lots of reasons, but they’re also, you know, that’s when people leak out. It’s like, you knew how many people came into the funnel. You know how much is coming out. And you know there’s a difference in those two.

Often people are very fuzzy on why that is. And there’s a ton of skills that you can have in the middle of the funnel that are really… It takes some of… They take… This is the sort of thing it takes a lifetime to develop, and you know, it’s one of these skills that, you know, great… Why is one… These are sales skills and why are some people great at sales and some not. But it’s learnable stuff, right? You can get better at it.

So that’s the… I think, the focus on the things that are happening in the middle of the funnel is something people tend to neglect, and tend not to focus on enough, and find harder to train and harder to, you know, hold a measuring stick up to.

Renee: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Do you have best practices or recommendations that you’ve experienced either about your maps or in your past history of how this can be done better?

Steve: Yeah, I mean, so I’ll… This is a deep topic because you know, it’s the expertise of a certain… This is how to do sales basically is what we’re talking about. So I can totally run through some important concepts.

So one thing I see people doing, I see them spending way too much time when they’re demoing a product or in that sales cycle focusing on the product and not focusing on selling and the customers problems and the customer’s viewpoint. Even during an actual sales meeting that is sensibly for demoing a product. I think you should only be demoing like 25% of the time and the rest of the time should be spent on the selling.

And when I say selling, I mean the listening, the understanding of what their pain point is. You know, it’s doing things like taking a step back and asking why are we in this call? And what is the problem that you’re looking to fix? And things like that. Really building out whether your product solves the plan that they’re trying to do.

So that’s one… And then tailoring your demo to show them how your product solves those benefits. And you know that’s a key trick. I can go through a whole bunch of tricks of that nature.

Renee: Well, you just hit on what I was going to say, is that, you know, oftentimes companies will create this demo process of these are all the things you want to communicate to the customer, when maybe a handful of those things are really important to the customer, and they’re going to be the reason why the customer buys your product over a competitor. Right?

Steve: Yeah.

Renee: Rather than sending someone in to go and do the cam demo, and we’ve all been victim to the cam demo.

Steve: Oh yeah. Well, and that’s what you really have to avoid. And the way you do that is at the outset and maybe even before the actual demo, hopefully you’ve done this, you often… Especially in a complex sales cycle, you have a bunch of people in the room and, you know, and when I say in the room… And kind of who have a say in whether or not the company that you’re selling to is going to move in your direction or not, and someone is on your side and you’ve…

Before you give a demo to the group or have a sales call with a group, it’s important to get that person to prep you. And even if you’re just selling to one person, before you start your demo and you can do this, you know, a week before or you can do it, you know, for the first 10 minutes of the demo. You can before you actually start talking about your company and your product and your service, you’ve got to listen to them and find out why are we here, why are you talking to me?

What is the pain that you’re trying to solve? And I like a thing called the figuring out what their dinosaur feature is. Like, a dinosaur feature… So you know how in that… Everyone’s seen Jurassic Park, right? So when people… When the kids showed up at Jurassic Park for the first time, they didn’t take them right to the lab and show them how they made the eggs, right?

You got off the… You arrive at Jurassic Park and they show you a dinosaur. And like, they let them put their hands on it, right? Like, and that’s what gets them excited. And you have to… So you have to show them right up front, you have to know up front before you start the demo, what is going to be the killer feature, the killer thing that you guys do, your company does that’s going to really get this customer excited and then you put that in front of them right off the bat.

And then the rest of the demo is already exciting to them because they’re already really into this because you figured out this is the thing they want. And that’s the thing I showed them first.

Renee: Right, right. Your third step to improve the marketing and sales funnel is about after the close. But before we jump into that, I think there’s… As you were talking, I was thinking about, you know, after the demo, right?

What does that look like? And what improvements can we make in terms of our communication? And rather than putting them back into a standard marketing flow at that point or even a sales follow up flow, it just feels like in this day and age with so much talk around account based marketing that we have to be really intentional in how we follow up with them and making sure that we are hitting on what was most important to them in the demo. Right?

Steve: Right, so I think when when you’re… A key thing to managing a sales cycle is to… As you finish the meeting, you have to get agreement on what the next steps are. So, you know, five minutes before the minute the meeting is over, or 10 minutes before the meeting is over, you have to make sure you’ve covered what they want to cover, and figure out what the next steps are.

So you can ask questions like, “On a scale of one to 10, how much have we covered what you wanted to cover?”. And when they’re like, “Eight.”, you can be like, “Okay, what else would make a 10? What is the thing that you wanted to learn about?”, right?

So that’s maybe a 10 minute out question. And then five minutes out, it’s a, you know, well so in terms of next steps we’re going to do this and this on my side, and I believe you’re going to do this and this. And that way we’ll be able to take this next step.

And everyone has to agree what the next things are. You shouldn’t be just shifting them back to marketing. To have a prospect move from marketing into sales and then to send it back to marketing is a loss. You want to… It is up to the salesperson to keep driving that deal forward and get the next steps and agree upon it and keep moving the thing through the cycle.

Renee: Yeah, for sure. So let’s talk about the after the close part too because I thought this was really interesting. So what are the activities that make the customer more successful with your product?

And you know, you’re talking about adoption here, right? And I would imagine with your business, making sure that those field reps have training on new product, they know how to use it. If anything comes up, you guys are addressing that with them so that they get really entangled with the product and want to keep… Right?

Steve: Yeah. I think a lot of people, a lot of business organizations, their processes neglect this part too. So just like they’re bad at the middle of the funnel… The end of the funnel or post sale is also an area that a lot of companies under invest in. A lot of businesses that… The real values in the ongoing business relationship, and in a business like ours it’s obvious to see, you know, because people buy our thing for $35 a month or $9 a month or $74 a month, depending on which thing they’re getting, right?

But point being, they’re paying us on a month to month basis and so if we don’t make them successful, if they don’t get value out of the product after we’ve sold it to them, then they’re going to stop paying us on a month to month basis, right?

And we want them to, you know, we want to create value so that they stay a customer and benefit from our product for years. And organizations tend to under invest in making people really successful and making them glowingly happy with your service and product. And there are a few reasons why it’s really important. One, obviously if they’re not happy with your product, not getting value from it, they’re going to stop paying you or they’re not going to make that next order, et cetera.

And those recurring customers are really… That’s the most important thing for many, many businesses. But also a lot of your best future customers are going to come from people that were referred to you by your existing glowingly happy customers. And there’s a difference between someone who’s just satisfied and someone who is so happy with your service that they’re going to tell their friends about it.

There’s… And you can imagine this in your own life, right? Like, there’s things that you use that you’re like, “Yeah, I’m glad I use this, glad I had it like, it’s cool, whatever.”. And then there’s things that you’re like, “Oh my God, Jessica, you have to know about this product.”, I’m assuming you have a friend called Jessica. [crosstalk 00:24:09].

“Jessica, you’ve got to know about this thing. I tried it out. I’ve been trying it out for the last month and it’s so awesome. It does this for me. It does that for me. Check it out.”. And getting… If your customers are really feel that way about you, you know, on a scale of one to 10 how much do you like this? It’s a 10, I love it. It’s not… It’s an eight you know, I wish it did this and this. I’m okay with it. Or it’s a seven. Like, it’s a 10 I love it.

Those people go out and actively tell other people about it and that’s what builds a brand. That’s what builds awareness. Like, then when people hear it… Another customer might… They may not just run out and buy your thing, right? Because they heard that someone else liked it, but then when they come across again, they’re like, “Oh yeah, this is what she likes so much. I heard about this. I should check this out.”.

It starts bringing you a whole bunch more really high value leads in the top of your funnel… Would have a very high probability of closure because it’s not just they didn’t… They didn’t just hear about that you existed somehow, but they got a glowing recommendation from someone that they trust.

So the after the close is how you do that. You gotta… They have agreed to try your thing out and start using it. Now the company needs to make an investment to make them, you know… And it’s a marketing investment. It’s a financial investment because you know, it keeps them on board. It’s a marketing investment because it’ll bring in new leads in the future, but the company needs to pony up, to put in the manpower to make people really successful and really love what you’re doing. And you’ve got to go the extra mile after the close.

Renee: You know, it’s so true that companies kind of forget that part. Right? The salesperson handled the close. It’s done. Maybe there’s a customer sac group, but it’s not the same as continued communications around the benefits of the product and cool things that they can… Almost like a training program. I’ve seen companies do that really, really well and it makes a huge difference.

Steve: Yeah, I think it does. It’s really important and it’s often neglected.

Renee: Well, if you’re doing all these things, Steve, I could see why Badger Maps is as successful as you are.

Steve: Thanks. We’re trying… We’re trying to stay focused on this one problem set for this one group of people and it’s working on. I mean we’ve done some things for them that are really creating value in their lives. So that’s… And it is easier to sell the salespeople because, you know, speaking of the after the close stuff, they’re really good at communicating value, right? So if you make them successful, they have the… I mean, they’re professional communicators of value, right?

That’s… If you make them successful, they will communicate to other people that you’re an awesome thing. And that’s really where most of our deals come from. Sales people who have started using us and then they told their friends, their company, their colleagues, their ex colleagues, et cetera.

Renee: And how fantastic is that? That accelerates your sales process.

Steve: Yeah, plurality’s hard to come by, but if you can get it, it’s great stuff.

Renee: Yeah. Well thank you so much for the conversation and the insight. I always ask a bonus question, my bonus question for you is, what advice would you give to someone just starting out their career in marketing?

Steve: Well, marketing careers are different than a lot of things, a lot of careers. Like, you know, it’s different than sales, for example. Sales is a very clear progression. This is the intro level job. This is the promotion one, promotion two. It’s a very… There aren’t a lot of… It’s very linear and clear.

Marketing is tricky because there are lots of areas that fall under marketing. And as you start out your marketing career, you have to kind of figure out which one of these paths in marketing am I going to take? Content marketing, product marketing, marketing technology, marketing analytics, PR.

There’s all these different areas that you could go into, right? Corporate marketing, branding, advertising. I mean the list… And these are all very different jobs. And you know the job you’re getting hired for, you know, early in your marketing career is called like marketing associate or marketing analyst or something. But those eight things or whatever that I just mentioned, those are completely different activities, and someone might be awesome at one of them and hate another one.

And so it’s really important to understand what type of marketing role you’re getting into as you start off, I think.

Renee: Yeah.

Steve: Like, is this… Am I going to be writing all the time or am I going to be riding on spreadsheets all day? Like, what am I going to be, you know, sleuthing. Am I going to be, you know, tweaking… Wordsmithing for the web website or am I going to be, you know, there’s all these different… Am I going to be living in Google analytics and ad words and advertising platforms.

These are all very different activities and someone might be good at one and not good at the other. So you have to make sure you’re going in the right direction. And so that’s piece of advice number one, understand what is this, what direction are you starting, which path are you taking to start your marketing career?

And piece of advice, number two is understand as many of the paths as you can, and get exposed to them and get at least conversational in all these different areas because to progress and grow a marketing career… Like, if you’re gonna be the director of marketing or the VP of marketing, you have to understand all eight of those roles, right?

They all pointed to you. And so to manage them… So to get to get promoted into that… It’s harder to be a director of marketing, or a VP of marketing, I think, than a lot of other roles because you’re managing all these different silos that are really very different.

Which makes it a complex role and so that’s piece of advice, number two is really get to know all those different areas, all the things that are in marketing and get conversational in them, and gain expertise in all of them, not just your silo. Like, if you’re doing content marketing, don’t just get great at content marketing. You also have to understand marketing technology, and product marketing, and all these other areas, PR, that might not…

They’re not in your job description right now. That person might be on a different team, but know that your bosses boss is the same person. And so if you one day want to reach that level, you have to understand what they’re doing too.

Renee: Yeah, yeah. So true. And it’s getting more and more complex it seems like every year.

Steve: Yeah, it’s one of the most complex areas in business today, I think. There’s just so many services, products, and concepts, and it’s such a noisy world right now. So to cut through that noise is getting more and more complex and difficult. It’s a tough one, but it’s a really interesting one and really valuable. And you know, for people it’s strategic, it’s challenging, which really makes it fun.

Renee: Yeah. Yeah. Well, Steve, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. For our listeners, if you would like to learn more about Badger maps, you can go to the website at And thank you so much, Steve, again.

Steve: Yeah. And also if you’re… You just mentioned this podcast, if you do… If you are in the area field sales or you know someone who is, if you mention… Just mention to any of our sale or customer success people or whatever, that you heard about this through this podcast. And they’ll give you two months free of the service, just as a thank you for listening to my blabbing.

Renee: That’s awesome, Steve. Thank you.

Steve: Sure.

Renee: Our listeners will love that. Well, thanks again. And bye everybody, we’ll see you next time.

Steve: Bye.