Use the “cash funnel” to fight finance through finance

Ok, we can already hear you moaning through the computer screen

“Please, not another article on the funnel!” “

But wait, give us a chance! There’s a reason everyone has a hot view of the marketing funnel. This is because the funnel is almost certainly the most important mental model in B2B marketing.

The funnel shows how we think about everything from buyer behavior and marketing goals to budget allocation. If your funnel is wrong, it is almost impossible to do your marketing well.

That’s why countless marketers have tried – and failed – to perfect the conversion funnel. We’re probably going to fail too – but damn marketing, we’re going to try anyway!

Today we unveil… Drum Roll Please… The Cash Funnel.

Step 1: flip your funnel

For our first tip, we’re going to flip the funnel and add a missing axis: time.

Time is the most underrated measure in the marketing industry.


Because every B2B business has two customer segments: in-market buyers and out-of-market buyers. Customers in the market must buy today. Non-market customers don’t need to buy today, but will need to buy in the future, whether it’s five months or five years from now.

And as our last article explained, there is a “95: 5 rule”, which states that about 5% of buyers are in the market and about 95% are off-market at any given time. The biggest growth opportunity in B2B is to influence the 95% of “non-market” buyers who aren’t even in the funnel yet.

Marketers are in the memory business. Our job is to make sure that when that 95% of buyers hit the market, our brand “is easy to think of and easy to find” because the brand that is remembered is the brand that is bought. Marketers cannot “move” a buyer in the market, only a customer’s need can “move” a buyer in the market. And we can’t control how fast buyers move through the funnel because it is determined by the customer, not the marketer.

As Erwin Ephron wisely wrote in 2005: “The advertising itself did not make Mary buy grain. The empty cereal box did.

You need to build your funnel around this basic truth:

Cash funnel So why is our cash funnel better than the traditional funnel?

Well, first and foremost, our funnel is based on the needs of the customer, not the needs of the marketer. “Today, I came down from a buying funnel of notoriety to consideration,” no customer has ever said.

However, “I’m looking for a cloud solution” is something customers say on planet Earth.

Obsessing short-term results and forgetting about the customer are probably the two biggest mistakes B2B marketers make. We believe our cash flow funnel solves both issues.

You can’t forget the customer if your funnel is built around their needs. And it’s a lot easier to think long term when your funnel takes into account that only 5% of buyers need your product in the short term. Our funnel forces B2B marketers to focus on the future needs of customers.

Step 2: Financialize your funnel

B2B marketers can’t forget about their external customers. But we also cannot forget our internal customers.

Most B2B marketers think of sales as their internal customer. We are constantly berated for not “aligning with sales”. But aligning too closely with sales is a huge mistake, in our opinion.


Because the sales manager doesn’t care about future sales from future customers, it’s mostly how marketing creates value. Sales are paid to deliver immediate results. Future customers are not included in their quarterly quotas. Our incentives just don’t match.

But you know who cares about future sales? Your chief financial officer. You know, the person who secretly runs the marketing department.

So how do the marketing incentives align with the financial incentives?

Well, if you work in a public company, your chief financial officer cares primarily about the value of your stocks. And if you work in a private company, your CFO cares primarily about… the value of your shares, whether you were to go public or sell the company. And what determines the value of your stock?

We have two words for you: cash flow.

Obsessing short-term results and forgetting about the customer are probably the two biggest mistakes B2B marketers make.

As Jeff Bezos once explained, “If you look at university studies, you can see that stock prices are most closely correlated with cash flow. And Bezos is primarily talking about future cash flow because, by most estimates, 80% of a company’s stock value is based on the expected cash flow generated in more than 10 years. And where do these future cash flows come from, you ask?

Future clients. Or, to use our earlier terminology, off-market buyers.

So when you use your funnel to fund, you need to frame it in their language, like this:

Cash funnel B2B marketers love to complain about financial service. But the truth is, finance is much more likely to appreciate the value of long-term investments than sales, and much more likely to invest in strategies that generate future cash flow (AKA: marketing).

That’s the beauty of the cash funnel. It doesn’t just align marketers with their customers, who are mostly off the market. It also aligns marketers with finance, which controls their budgets.

Step # 3: Fill Your Funnel

Now that marketing and finance speak the same language, we can work together to determine how much growth we can expect from different investment strategies.

The finance team can fill your funnel with real numbers, like your market share, the lifetime value of your customers, and the average purchase frequency in your category. Your cash funnel will start to look like this:

Cash funnel Now the CFO and Marketing Director can see how small the opportunity in the market is and how big the off-market opportunity is. And you’ll have a much easier time explaining to the CEO why the company needs to make big investments in marketing strategies that generate future cash flow.

Strategies like… brand building.

If 80% of the share price is based on sales in 10 years and 95% of buyers are off-market, then it doesn’t make sense to spend 100% of your budget on “lead generation” in the short term. term. “

Yet that’s exactly what most B2B businesses are doing today. We like to blame sales and finance for our predicament, but maybe it is our own fault. Today, most B2B marketers position brand building as if it were an arts and crafts project. We go into meetings to talk about the love of the brand and the brand’s iconography, then act surprised when all the budgets are allocated to ‘performance marketing’ which has generated a spreadsheet filled with numbers. and dollar signs.

B2B brand marketers need to learn to play the game and fight finance with finance.

This is what the cash funnel is designed to do.

We hope it will bring you fame and fortune. If not, well you can always try one of the other 10,000 funnels …

Peter Weinberg and Jon Lombardo are the heads of research and development at the B2B Institute, a LinkedIn think tank that studies the laws of growth in B2B. You can follow rock and Jon on Linkedin.

Comments are closed.