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Chapter 5: Creating a Unified Funnel

A unified funnel brings together the entire customer journey.

It is a comprehensive model that encompasses every step of the journey, from initial brand awareness to post-purchase customer satisfaction and retention.

Let's look at that in a bit more detail 👇


Instead of viewing marketing, sales, and customer success as isolated departments with distinct objectives, a unified funnel takes a holistic approach and aligns these functions.

The Importance of a Unified Funnel

Enhanced Collaboration 

As Jeff Ignacio pointed out:

"You need to have regular operating rhythms where sales and marketing overlap and collaborate regularly. They must feed each other in terms of both giving feedback to the marketing team, discussing the definitions of MQL, the persona of the ICP, and discussing what is and what is not working."

A unified funnel ensures that all departments involved in revenue generation are on the same page and working toward the same goals.

Most companies use three categories for their customer journey funnel: lifecycle stages, lead statuses and opportunity or deal stages.

Within each of these, numerous names exist for each stage and status, which can lead to confusion and wasted opportunities.

Additionally, each team will have a different understanding of how the pipeline functions.

With a unified funnel, teams share a common understanding of the customer journey. This ensures that messaging, metrics and communication are consistent.

As the business grows, a unified funnel ensures scalability. New team members can quickly integrate into the workflow with standardised processes and automation.

Better analytics and resources

With a single funnel, collecting and analysing data throughout the customer journey becomes easier.

Analytics and reporting generated from the unified funnel allow teams to identify areas for improvement.

It can help companies allocate resources more efficiently by eliminating redundancies. This can lead to cost savings and improved ROI on marketing and sales efforts.

It also improves data visibility, which enables teams to spot trends and opportunities. With improved data and analytics, companies can create more accurate revenue forecasts, define their ICP more accurately and anticipate potential churn risks.

Optimised customer journey

A unified funnel also ensures that customers receive consistent messaging and support throughout their interactions with the company.

When customer success is integrated into the funnel, it’s easier to identify and address issues that might lead to customer churn. Proactive customer success efforts can improve retention rates.

How to create a unified funnel

1. Audit your current strategies and their outcomes

A comprehensive assessment will offer valuable insights into your customer’s journey, from their initial discovery of your business to the point of purchase.

As a result, you can pinpoint any issues that might deter potential customers from progressing through your sales funnel.

Natalie Furness, Chief Revenue Officer at RevOps Automated, highlighted the importance of this:

"The biggest thing I'm seeing is that businesses don’t seem to have their life cycle stages mapped throughout their software."

"When we talk about revenue operations and the bowtie methodology and the importance of tracking lead to MQL, SQL into an opportunity, into a customer, no one is defining or tracking them across their whole stack."

“There’s no orchestration to allow every platform to report on where people are in their journey with the brand. And that’s the biggest challenge that I’m really seeing and really wanting to help businesses overcome is just having a view of where your contacts and accounts are in this life cycle with your brand.”

Look at the following:

Ensure your content addresses your customers’ pain points and equips them with the necessary information, such as the advantages of choosing your products and services over those of your competitors.

Ensure that your website is designed to enhance lead generation and conversions.

Assess your existing marketing strategies to determine which strategies yield the best results and which areas require enhancement in the future.

2. Get buy-in and commitment from key stakeholders  

Ensure everyone in marketing, sales and customer success understands the value of a unified funnel.

Jeff Ignacio stressed the importance of this:

"I think sales and marketing could be a strong humming working together engine, and I think part of it is driving together around planning."

"Thinking through how companies can sit down, set targets, and use a combination of maybe a top-down bottom-up motion to align both sales and marketing."

3. Create a visual representation of your unified funnel

Clearly define each stage and the responsibilities of each department at each stage. Identify the handoff points and touchpoints.

4. Use common terminology and metrics

Many companies lack a standardised definition of their stages - making it hard for different teams to understand exactly what is meant by each term.

Stages are often defined using vague terms rather than measurable facts, so individuals are left to interpret which stage the prospect is at based on their personal understanding of the definitions.

Ensure that everyone speaks the same language when discussing leads, opportunities, and customers.

5. Use a CRM system

It’s essential for managing and tracking leads, prospects, and customer interactions.

Implement a CRM system like HubSpot or Salesforce to manage leads and opportunities efficiently.

Choose a CRM that can accommodate your unified funnel and integrate it with marketing and customer success tools.

6. Integrate your systems

Ensure that you integrate your marketing automation, CRM, and customer success tools. This will facilitate data sharing and help teams access the information they need at each stage.

Utilise APIs to connect your different tools and systems, creating a data flow that supports the entire customer journey.

7. Create dynamic customer segments

Use predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms to identify ideal customer profiles.

Assign a lead grade to prospects based on behaviour, demographics, and firmographic data. 

Automation platforms like Marketo or HubSpot can automate lead routing; categorising leads into groups like MQLs or SQLs.

8. Define SLAs between marketing, sales, and customer success

These agreements outline response times, lead handoff criteria, lead volume and quality and responsibilities at each funnel stage.

These can also include deliverables, communication protocols and shared targets.

9. Deploy customer success management tools

Gainsight or Totango automate onboarding, product adoption tracking, and customer health scoring. These systems ensure a streamlined customer experience post-purchase.

10. Continuously gather feedback from all departments

Be open to making changes to optimise the funnel and continuously track and monitor for any problems. 

Leverage business intelligence tools like Tableau, Power BI, or Google Data Studio to analyse funnel metrics and generate comprehensive reports.

Charlie Saunders, Chief Revenue and Operations Officer at CS2, highlighted the importance of funnel tracking:

"Funnel tracking isn’t just an analytics exercise; it’s a business process exercise that you’re then getting analytics on. So you’re able to see that sales handoff. You’re able to see those stage transitions, if there are drop-offs and if there are issues so you can further optimise."

“This allows you to do what we call revenue growth architecture. Analyse how you’re capturing intent, how you’re capturing buyers, how you’re handing them off to sales and how sales is working them and turning that into pipeline and revenue.”

Use data analytics to track the performance of the unified funnel and monitor key metrics.

Closing thoughts

A unified funnel enhances collaboration, improves efficiency and analytics and optimises the customer journey.

It improves decision-making and eliminates redundancies and bottlenecks.

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