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The Bowtie Funnel & Holistic Revenue Explained

Mary Grothe September 14 2021


Meet Host, Mary Grothe

Mary Grothe is a former #1 MidMarket B2B Sales Rep who after selling millions and breaking multiple records, formed House of Revenue®, a Denver-based firm of fractional Revenue Leaders who currently lead the marketing, sales, customer success, and RevOps departments for 10 companies nationwide. In the past year, they've helped multiple 2nd stage growth companies between $5M - $20M, on average, double their MRR within 10 months, resulting in an average ROI of 1,454% and an average annual revenue growth eclipsing $3.2 million.


Don't Have Time to Listen, Read The Full Transcription.

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Mary Grothe: Welcome to the House of Revenue. I'm Mary Grothe the Founder and CEO. I love scaling companies to their first 5 million then 10, 15, and 20. If you've reached a revenue plateau and aren't sure how to get past it, you're in the right place. Listen in as we interview CEOs and solve their most pressing revenue challenges, if you want to be on our show, or want to learn more, connect with us at

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Funny enough, and I can be pretty humble about this. I did a speaking engagement earlier this year with a group of CEOs. I was so excited about being brought in. It was one of those CEO groups like the peer-to-peer mentors, the CEO boards. I will not name the group. You guys know there are a few of them out there. I was so excited to do this presentation, I prepared this PowerPoint. I had everything set up to teach these 9 or 10 CEOs all about holistic scale. It really is a beast. It's a monster. We're redoing the ebook on our website. I think it's 30 some pages may be now, and it's about to be double. We are so focused on sharing with all of our prospective CEOs and any CEO out there, "Hey, here's what we do. This is how we scale companies, and we're passionate about it."

Going back to the story, I thought I was just going to share everything I know with this group of CEOs, which was a big mistake. I showed this presentation. I have my slide deck. I think I had like 90 minutes with them. They call us plenty of time. I've got this. Well, I proceeded to teach everything I know about the process myth methodology behind aligning, branding, marketing, sales, customer success, and revenue operations. Apparently, the presentation tanked. I had some of the harshest feedback I've ever received. In fact, I didn't even tell my team about this until today. Once I was finally able to share with somebody that, for the first time in my life, I got a bad grade on something. I had to get through that moment, so I shared it with a couple people on my team today.

I felt inspired to share this story with all of you. It is very humbling. I've been a speaker for a long time. I've become so passionate about the holistic scale and the methodology behind it. I was really excited about that presentation, but I tanked. Apparently, the feedback was bad. They said it was so detailed; it was way too much. They couldn't follow along. They didn't understand what I was saying and couldn't even hang with me in the conversation. They just felt it was too technical. I realized it took me a little bit of time to digest. "Man, this is how we always present. This is how I do my discovery calls. This is how we do the presentation, kickoff, and gap analysis when we talk about holistic scale." If I have a room full of 9 or 10 CEOs, and they can't hang out, our actual clients feel like, "Well, that's a wake-up call."

So a couple of months ago, we decided to simplify by using visuals and putting some structure around. When we talk about the holistic scale that we do. And it was exciting. We used to focus on each revenue department individually, like let's talk about branding, let's talk about marketing. Let's talk about sales CS. Then we realize, "Wait, the way that we're presenting this is very siloed. We're supposed to be knocking out silos within revenue departments." So, we started embracing the Bowtie Funnel. Today, I will share with you all about theBowtie Funnel and what it means. I hope to use you as my guinea pigs for the adaptation of my CEO presentation. So you'll have to give me some feedback.

If I've simplified this enough to understand or if I'm still leaving you in the dust. I'm curious to know because I've got to get this messaging down. I'm obviously too close to it. Who knows? I guess my fear for that CEO presentation is I wanted to sound smart because I thought, "Man, 90 minutes of an executive’s time." What a waste if they were in that and they thought, "Well, Jesus is marketing or sales 101." I didn't want to tell them something that they had heard before. I guess I just went overboard, but I had the right. My heart was in the right place. I really wanted to help. But apparently, I didn't do such a great job.

Anyway, let's talk about the Bowtie Funnel. I need everybody to picture a Bowtie, like the one you would wear on a tuxedo. We talk about a bow tie funnel. If you cut that bow tie in half and turn it on its side, you'd be looking at its traditional funnel where it's bigger on top, smaller on the bottom. That is an image that is heavily used in marketing and sales. It's meant to say that the top of the funnel is wider because you want to attract more people at the top of the funnel. Then as you qualify them and work them through the process, and they qualify you. You go through criteria about working together. The funnel gets smaller. At the very bottom, you have a few clients pop out of there, which is fantastic.

We are believers that client experience should include both the buyer journey and the customer journey. When you think about scaling your organization holistically, you are already missing a step. If you're only thinking about the traditional funnel, top of funnel, middle funnel, and bottom of funnel, what sales does not stop once you win a client. But it's so common in especially the smaller companies that we work for, that the onboarding, implementation, training, getting the clients to adopt your product or service, then getting into your retention and expanding the opportunity and eventually turning them into an advocate. There really isn't a playbook for that. You might hear it as customer success, and there's an account management component. I have heard it described as customer experience. Still, I always shiver a little bit when I hear people describe the customer journey as customer experience because I'm a fan.

Customer experience actually starting from the first touchpoint in marketing or their first experience with your brand, all the way through renewal advocacy or offboarding. There's an experience and offboarding FYI, I do have a process for 14. Sorry, tangent. So looking at the Bowtie Funnel, there are two halves. The first half is the buyer’s journey. This would be your traditional funnel, top of funnel, middle funnel, the bottom of funnel turned on its side in the center is when you onboard that client. Then on the back half of that, you have your customer journey. That would include adoption, retention, expansion, and advocacy of the buyer’s journey. We're huge HubSpot fans over here, so we subscribe to the thought that buyers have three stages in the buyer’s journey - awareness, consideration, decision, and then ultimately, the purchase.

When we talk about top of funnel, middle, and bottom of funnel, we can align that with awareness consideration decisions. Then ultimately, they're making the purchase. So with that, your first half buyers’ journey, second half customer journey. Let's talk through each of them because we've got to move away from marketing has this function, then sales have this function. Then customer success has this function. "Man. I'm dying without a whiteboard right now." I've got to draw this for you so badly. I promise you on our website, you can see the image of the Bowtie Funnel, and it's also in our newly enhanced eBook that will be coming out to you. Depending on when you listen to this, you may have the old version. You may need the new version.

Alright, going to awareness. When I look at the top of the funnel, there are so many ways that you can fill the top of your funnel - traditional marketing methods, traditional sales methods. Then, one a lot of people don't consider is the leads that come from your clients go into the top of funnel, as well. What are you doing to solicit or generate referrals from your clients or create an experience that's so unbelievable that on their own? They spread word of mouth, which results in advocacy, and it drives leads to your top of funnel, in the top of funnel, your driving awareness. There are three different tactics. One would be the brand and marketing. The second would be sales. The third would be customer advocacy, filling the funnel, word of mouth, testimonials, and singing your praises from the rooftop. All of that can intercept with your buyer when they're in their awareness phase. The buyer in the awareness phase is aware that they may have a problem. They're aware something isn't right, and their current scenario may not have been fully able to define their problem yet. Still, they're aware, like the check engine light is on. They're in that early stage where they could be marketed to, which could be an ad they've seen before.

But now that they're in the awareness stage, all of a sudden, it means something. Some a real simple example of this. On Instagram, I love my Instagram ads. I spend a lot of money on those ads. I'm getting marketed to with a fall jacket. Well, I've been seeing this ad for a month. I'm not buying it. I don't have any awareness yet. It's not fall, but I'm sitting here at my desk. I'm looking out the window, "Oh, my gosh, the leaves are starting to turn about yellow leaves on my tree, and my friend, some of the mornings are a lot cooler." So guess what? I'm aware that it's cooler, and I'm going to need fall clothes soon. Now I get the Instagram ad boom, click Buy. I wasn't aware until I was in awareness that I even had a need or desire for that product or service. It doesn't even surface for me. It doesn't even come through to the awareness stage is critical.

How do you intersect with buyers and awareness? Well, your brand's existence wins. You need to understand your buyer’s language. You have to understand how they communicate the pains and problems they have. You have to take your marketing messaging and translate it; you have to change your brand's aesthetic look and feel. You have to change the imagery. You have to change the graphics. You have to potentially change the colors. You need to make it aesthetically pleasing and psychologically aligned with your buyer. That way, when they experience or see your brand, they're immediately attracted to it. And if they're in their awareness stage, wow. You might even get a conversation. So on that, you also have marketing tactics, social
media posts, paid media, SEO, and organic media strategies, which should all be written in your buyer’s language you’re ranking for SEO. And when through either PPC paid media if you have a retargeting strategy, but sorry, I slowdown in your targeted media.

When buyers are in the awareness stage, they're very likely to go to Google or a search engine and search with a question. When they search for that question. Your effort that you put in on marketing should allow you to show on that front page of Google through organic, or you have an ad, like a PPC Pay Per Click ad showing at the top of the page. That helps drive traffic to your website, but your buyers are in the awareness stage. They're starting to search for an answer to their current scenario. Then you also have sales and the efforts of salespeople. So you think about what your sales team is doing. We believe in an integrated funnel approach. Marketing and sales should be working on the same funnel, the same list. We believe in automation, highly, highly personalized automation. We believe that sales should use automated outbound email campaigns and one-on-one customized messages through social media. Do not connect and pitch on LinkedIn.

I did not just tell you, you need to do that. There's a way to create conversations on LinkedIn that are one-to-one meaningful and have nothing about booking a meeting with your calendar link so they can watch a three-minute video here a pitch of your service before you even earn the opportunity to talk to them. That's not good sales. Oh, geez. See, maybe this is why that CEO group thought I was crazy. I got to learn how to give this message. Thanks for letting me practice on you. In the awareness stage, we're talking about the top of funnel. Sales should work in line with marketing, so you have sales techniques or tactics like email, messaging, phone calls, social media conversations, networking, solicited introductions, referrals, sending you or sharing your top target list with a current client asking who they may know and can make an introduction for you getting referral partners. Salespeople can use a dozen tactics very professionally to create conversations with prospective clients in the awareness stage.

Then the third part would be what you are doing to create brand advocates. What are you doing from a marketing perspective to market to your current clients about creating that buzz and word of mouth, share-worthy posts, or accolades? You as a company can highlight one of your clients and a cool testimonial or story or highlighting them for something neat that they did on social media. It can create some buzz. What is your marketing team doing to create advocates from your clients to solicit and generate some of those customer successes or customer qualified leads that come back through into the top in new awareness? That's your top of funnel. That's awareness consideration.

The next step in theBowtie Funnel is when, "Okay, I've confirmed to have a problem, and now I need a solution. I'm considering a couple of different options." Once I define what those options will be in that consideration step, I can lead into the decision step where I'm going through vetting and demos and criteria." But while I'm in consideration, this is when, if I'm still in lead status with a company, the marketing team could be nurturing me as a lead. I could have middle of funnel marketing, which is somebody has identified through my behaviors online, on the website, based on my ICP, my persona, a case study or a white paper I could be interested in, or a recorded webinar. The sales team could look at the activity I've done on the website, create a personalized outreach, phone call, or email, and create a conversation around my needs.

So in consideration as a buyer, I'm starting to actually consider like, "Hey, I'm thinking. I'm serious about solving my problem, but I got to look at a bunch of different options. I don't know what's right for me." This is typically where qualification and discovery conversations happen. When you filter down the funnel further in the decision step, now you have the criteria. You could use BANT here; budget authority needs a timeline. There are many variations of that. It doesn't have to be banned for all your haters out there. When the decision stage, multiple influencers and people on the team could influence a decision, whether they're champions or heavy users of the technology or service champions, generally say that or the ultimate decision-maker. Within decision-makers, you have the executive signer. Then you have the person responsible for the budget, and investment, and the dollars and cents.

So looking at that decision team, how you're communicating with the entire team. Again, you can do this through marketing, and you can do this through the experience on your website. Make sure that you've identified who all the different types of buyers are that could interact with your brand in the marketing funnel and the experience on the website. You have something for everybody while they're in that decision criteria step.

Next, the purchase is made. In that purchase step, I've seen marketing support the purchase that beautifully. I've also seen rev ops support the purchase step masterfully. This is where we're building these beautiful custom-made proposals with beautiful aesthetics and design, visualization charts, graphs of the implementation or onboarding process. This is where you have ROI stats of what they could expect by working with you on how you will make their lives better. This is where you integrate tools like a panda doc or a HelloSign, or another tool that can create an automated experience to make the purchase happen or purchase online. This could be in a shopping cart type function like a Shopify, but that purchase step.

I highly recommend that it's not just a salesperson or just a boring website, that you have pieces on this, where you're able to incorporate the aesthetic that design and it's beautiful, but also the automation of technology. Your RevOps team should be able to help you with that. Once you complete the purchase. Now you're transitioning into adoption, you make the purchase, then the customer actually needs to come on board. How do you achieve adoption? Well, you do that by having an award-winning onboarding experience. If this hasn't, if you haven't taken the time with this in your company, I recommend getting with your service team or whoever's responsible and the sales team. You talk about there's one piece here. I really want you to focus on how much information has the client already shared with your sales team, potentially a sales engineer solutions engineer? How much have they already shared? That your ops team, implementation team, client onboarding team, and whatever the name they need to know. So that it's a seamless experience between the purchase decision and then getting fully implemented and onboard.

I used to sell payroll and HR services, and I don't know if anything was more frustrating for the client than going through an entire sales process with me sometimes that would take three, four, or five months. And then they would get their first welcome call with ops, and it's like hi to tell me about your company. I mean, it's an utter facepalm. I have just been four months with you, and I have to start over. Are you kidding me? So again, you should be able to rely on your DevOps team for this. We're huge fans of HubSpot. HubSpot doesn't have any walls or barriers between the hubs, so between marketing, sales, and service. So it's the same contact and client record when it goes from being a prospect to a client. It's great all the histories there, all the data, all the nodes.

Additionally, you can build a new client profile through their custom object that the sales team can populate throughout time. As soon as that's complete, that can sync and actually through their ops hub using native sync. API can go straight, too, if you have an Oracle, an AARP, NetSuite, or something internally or your own proprietary system. That contact record can be duplicated over, which is great. There are so many ways to create a seamless experience there. But also, we highly recommend investing in a project management tool. Personally, we use ClickUp. There's Asana out there, Basecamp, where there are tons of other tools. HubSpot itself has a project tracker, which is pretty fantastic. I know that the service hub has a lot of features for you to take care of your clients within that ticketing and surveys, communication, chatbots, and knowledge base. So you look at all right, how do we create an experience with this client?

Then how do we ensure not only are they up and running on the service, but they're using it? So you have to determine your scoring factors to understand and agree that you adopt your product or service? How do you measure usage? How do you measure effective use? How do you understand the length of time so by this, like there's a change management component here? Within 30 days, if we get 90% of the users within a company to use 47% of the features in our system, we've achieved adoption. Come up with your calculation, and strive to achieve that before that client moves out of implementation.

Once they go to the success team and account management team, you're focused on retention. How do you make them repeatedly feel, whether it's every day, every week, every week, every month, that's every quarter, that they make the best decision by saying yes to your company. It is pristine communication, it's fast response times. It's training your team to empathetically respond to any challenges they encounter while using your product or service. But it's focusing on having full buy-in from everyone in that constant agreement that they can't imagine not using your product or service. The retention component is key. Once you have retention, you're looking at expansion. These are upsold opportunities. And again, this marketing plays a huge role here, and there is a sales component because your account management or sales team should work.

In addition to your customer success team, your customer success team has been tasked with upselling cross-selling or renewals. All those three have revenue tied to them, and they sure as heck better be in sales training because it takes sales to grow revenue. A lot of times, we find that customer success is just a name that they're using for tech support or customer service, which is different. You can go to our website and figure out how we define those, but those are different. When you talk about revenue expansion, our favorite thing to do is to create a chart data dump of all of your clients. List out your products and services that you could offer, and create a matrix X number of clients have X percentage of penetration into our product or service set.

Then by line item, you can see every client say this client has $87,000 in unsold revenue, this client has 26,000, this client has 54,000, whatever it is, and then you can stack rank based on opportunity. So are this is like the land and expand strategy. We brought all these clients on our average penetration rate into the full product suite or service X percent. We've stacked ranked them our highest growth opportunities are here. Then you come up with an account-based plan through marketing and sales to expand that revenue. Again, you should be leveraging your rev ops team. So you have this data, the visibility you have the reporting. You should assign quotas, goals, and metrics to this team and hold them accountable. You should have sales enablement and coaching sales empowerment to train and coach those responsible for upselling. Do you see how this is holistic, like marketing never has an end date?

Your brand never has an end date like we only use branded. This part of no sales doesn't have an end date sale doesn't stop when you when the client and taking it one step further from expansion as we wrap here is going into advocacy. We've brushed on advocacy a few times. So how do you create brand advocates? Customer advocates are their client's Success Program. It's your product or service. So amazing. Using that on their own, whether it's a B2C or B2B company, the buyer is so excited. The customer is so excited about using your product or service that unsolicited they're sharing it on social media, they're sending people to your brand. How are you creating advocates? How are you incentivizing that behavior? How are you creating it organically? And then how do you reward it?

Ask yourself those questions on advocacy because marketing can play a huge role in that. A sales aspect of this can play a huge role because you're generating leads, generating referrals, generating this community of people. You can capitalize on that and monetize that and create more revenue opportunities for your company. So that concludes our discussion on the Bowtie Funnel, from awareness through advocacy, awareness, consideration, decision purchase, adoption, retention, expansion, and advocacy. I think I caught my stride there about halfway through. Maybe this was a good dry run, and you'll have to give me your feedback. Think, tell me if I'm ready to get in front of some CEOs again. See you.

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Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you're interested in being on our show or want to learn more about how we can help you scale your company, connect with us at or with me Mary Grothe spelled G-R-O-T-H-E on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.

Connect with House of Revenue® on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

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