How to Optimize the B2B Digital Marketing Funnel

There’s a lot of talk out there about how to understand value from the buyer’s perspective. New companies are trying to engage with prospective clients in ways that provide them value instead of just showing the value the company thinks it has.

The most recent guest on the B2B Revenue Executive Experience podcast was Joe Apfelbaum, CEO at Ajax Union. As Joe says, “The right strategy will save you a decade,” and “energy without strategy is useless.” That’s why you need to understand exactly what the B2B digital marketing funnel is—and how to optimize it.

energy without strategy is useless.

What We Mean By the “B2B Digital Marketing Funnel”

A lot of people are “doing” social media, or “doing” SEO. But can anyone tell me what that actually means?

People say they want more traffic, but the wrong traffic can actually lose you money.

In Joe’s words, the difference between the B2B and B2C marketing funnels is that B2C is transactional, for the most part. You can have the relationship aspect, but most of the time it works like this: “Walk into the cleaners, clean the shirt, then leave.” It’s people giving you what you paid for and then yelling, “Next!”

B2B is very different. You’re relying on clients that will hopefully give you residual income. You’ll have to build a relationship. The time from when you build a relationship, to when they turn into a lead, to when they turn into a client (and hopefully stay a client), is a long-term play. It’s not something you just “do.”

When it comes to a marketing funnel, it’s either “I get a customer, they buy from me, they leave,” or you identify a persona, craft a value proposition that aligns with their specific values, and find the problem you’re going to solve.

Not everybody cares about money. Not everybody cares about quality, or moving fast. Everyone’s needs are different.

Think about the difference between the fanciest furniture store in your neighborhood and IKEA. You always seem to have to drive to the ends of the earth to get to IKEA, and your furniture might not even last you that long. But you buy furniture that’s cheaper than you can get anywhere else—even if you have to build it yourself.


The bottom line is that IKEA built a huge business based not on convenience or quality, but on price.

Signs That You’re Ignoring the Funnel

Many people in B2B don’t have the opportunity to find out what a buyer finds valuable. But at the organizational level, there are signs that an executive could look around and see to know that the company’s not paying attention to the funnel.

1) Churn

What’s your churn rate? If clients are going in one side and out the other, you’re obviously not focused on your value proposition.

Also, remember the 80/20 rule: 20% of your clients will produce 80% of your revenue, and 20% of your bad clients will produce 80% of your headaches. Think about where your headaches are.

Most people don’t make that calculation: they just want more, more, more. When they get more, they want more of more. They don’t care about the quality, just the quantity of sales. If it moves, get it as a client.

2) Confused, failing sales reps

If you have 100 sales reps, and only 10 are really successful, that’s a red flag. You don’t have systems and processes where you can put anyone who has a good enough personality in, because you don’t have things aligned. You’re looking for the “cowboys”—and they’re not scalable.

And, if your customers are leaving, it’s because they don’t align with you.

Your sales reps should not be complaining that you’re too expensive. Joe just had a sales rep come up to him asking if they could lower their hourly rate. He said sure, if the buyer wants to pay for longer. He can deliver the same quality in double the time if that’s what they really want.

The guy who spends six months cutting down a tree doesn’t have to do that: all he has to do is sharpen the saw for two hours and get the whole thing done in a day. Joe says it’s the same with sales reps who cold call people they know will never answer the phone.

“You’re either wasting money or wasting time,” he said. “Decide which one you want to spend.”

You're either wasting money or wasting time; decide which one you want to spend.

(To hear Joe get in-depth about the B2B digital marketing funnel, check out the rest of his interview.)

What is most effective when someone is trying to sell to you?

We like to ask all of our podcast guests this question. Here’s how Joe responded:

“The best way to get my attention is to leave me a voicemail . . . because I will never check it ever.

[Laughs] “If you want to get my attention, connect with my on LinkedIn, on Facebook, on Twitter, send me an email, send me personalized messages, add value to my life, and you’ll see what happens. Start by adding value. Most people try to sell you, sell you, sell you and give up after the first try, when the sale is made after the twelfth try. When I want to get someone, I’m relentless.

“If it’s worth your time to be relentless, you will get a call.”

Acceleration Insight

In each episode of the B2B Revenue Executive Experience, we ask our guests for one nugget of wisdom they would impart to a sales professional. Here’s this one:

“Start reading books about developing yourself. Jim Rohn said, ‘Work harder on yourself than you do on your business, and you will grow in ways that you can never imagine.’ Most people are so busy working on their skills, they’re not working on their mind. Work on your mind first; your skills will come. With the right mindset, you can pick any skillset.”

This post is based on a podcast interview with Joe Apfelbaum from Ajax Union. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.

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