Customer Journey

The traditional sales funnel vs. the Flywheel Approach


The B2B sales and marketing landscape is constantly changing, challenging businesses to adapt and stay ahead of their competition. Traditional marketing funnels have been the go-to strategy for years, guiding potential customers from awareness to making a purchase. However, as customer expectations change and they seek more personalised experiences, companies need to take on new approaches like the flywheel.

One such approach is the flywheel concept, introduced by Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot, in 2018. It is a way to revolutionise how businesses think about their customers. Instead of focusing solely on acquisition (as with traditional funnels), the flywheel embraces customers’ ongoing relationship with a brand.

The flywheel approach is all about putting customers first and using CRM systems, marketing automation tools, and system integrations to create smooth interactions that keep them engaged at every step.

In this blog post, we’ll explore why B2B tech brands should consider the flywheel approach to succeed in today’s competitive market and share practical tips on how you can use this approach to improve your overall business strategy!

Understanding the Flywheel Approach

Origin and Concept of the Flywheel Approach

The traditional sales funnel is a linear model that visualises the customer's journey as a predictable and one-directional process. Once a customer reaches the bottom and completes a purchase, the process essentially stops from the business's perspective. So while it might carry you forward for some time (i.e., capture leads), it can’t keep up in today’s fast-paced world (i.e., lose potential customers).

The flywheel approach takes inspiration from its mechanical namesake - an energy-storing wheel that maintains a steady rotation by harnessing momentum. In sales and marketing terms, this translates into creating continuous cycles of customer satisfaction, referrals, and repeat purchases. It recognises that the customer journey doesn't end with a sale; it's an ongoing cycle. It's about creating continuous momentum by investing in customer delight and building strong relationships.

The customer isn't just an output; but also a source of energy to keep the wheel spinning, acting as ambassadors and advocates for the brand, bringing in new customers, and supporting the business's growth (i.e., retaining loyal customers).

The key difference between these two approaches is their focus - traditional funnels centre on one-way transactions, while the flywheel champions ongoing interactions with customers. By prioritising customer-centricity over linear processes, the flywheel guarantees smooth sailing for businesses navigating today’s competitive environment.

Credit: HubSpot

Key Components of the Flywheel: Attract, Engage & Delight

There are three critical steps to follow when adopting the flywheel approach:

1. Attract: Set your compass in the right direction with captivating content and targeted campaigns that draw in potential customers like a lighthouse guiding ships to shore.

2. Engage: Establish meaningful connections, offer valuable resources, and foster genuine relationships to keep customers on board for the long voyage ahead.

3. Delight: Ensure smooth sailing by going above and beyond to address customers’ needs, creating memorable experiences that turn them into loyal advocates who propel your flywheel even faster.

Reasons behind the Shift towards the Flywheel Approach

As businesses navigate the ever-changing seas of B2B sales and marketing, several factors have contributed to the growing popularity of the flywheel approach. Let’s take a moment to dive into the shift to this approach:

Changing Customer Expectations and Buyer Behaviour in B2B Markets

Gone are the days when customers followed a simple, linear path to purchase. Today’s buyers expect personalised experiences tailored to their unique needs and preferences, and businesses must adjust their strategies to meet these evolving demands.

The flywheel approach places customer satisfaction at its core, creating an environment where clients feel valued and supported throughout their journey with your brand. By focusing on customer-centricity, you’ll ensure smooth sailing.

Increased Focus on Customer Retention and Brand Loyalty over Acquisition

While attracting new customers is essential, retaining existing customers is equally important. Research shows that retaining existing customers can be far more cost-effective than acquiring new ones - plus, loyal clients often become valuable brand advocates who help bring even more business your way.

Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 - 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one - Harvard Business Review

The flywheel approach acknowledges this reality by emphasising customer delight, equipping companies with efficient tools to cultivate strong relationships that last.

Growing Importance of Data-Driven Insights for Targeting and Personalisation

Navigating modern B2B markets without data-driven insights would be like setting sail without a compass – you’re bound to get lost eventually. To chart a successful course, organisations need reliable data to inform strategic decisions about targeting and personalisation efforts.

By embracing CRM systems and marketing automation tools within the context of the flywheel approach, businesses can collect and analyse valuable data to enhance customer interactions and drive growth.

Implementing the Flywheel Approach using CRM and Marketing Automation Tools

Now that we’ve explored the reasons behind the shift towards the flywheel approach, it’s time to discover how CRM systems and marketing automation tools can help you effectively implement this strategy to drive business success.

Utilising CRM Systems for a Comprehensive Customer View

Your CRM system should provide a comprehensive view of customer data from sales, marketing, and customer service teams. By integrating all relevant information within your CRM system, you’ll gain valuable insights into your customers’ needs and preferences.

Leveraging CRM analytics helps businesses make informed decisions about targeting strategies. A well-implemented CRM system will provide clarity, ensuring you stay on course and reach your desired destination.

Aligning Marketing Automation with Sales Goals

Marketing automation tools streamline essential processes so everyone can focus on their core tasks – reaching your goals swiftly and efficiently. By aligning marketing automation with sales objectives, you can create seamless lead nurturing processes through dedicated tools.

Personalise content based on buyer personas or industry-specific factors so that potential clients feel understood and valued during their journey with your brand.

Delighting Customers by leveraging your data

Connecting your CRM system with marketing automation platforms ensures a 360o view of every single customer, allowing you to deliver timely communication tailored to individual needs – keeping them engaged throughout their journey.

Integrating various tools across channels allows for seamless communication between departments, preventing any issues that could hinder overall customer satisfaction. As you forge ahead implementing the flywheel strategy, keep system integrations at the forefront to guarantee smooth progress and delighted customers every step of the way.

Practical Tips for Adopting a Flywheel Strategy

As we conclude our exploration of the flywheel strategy, here are some practical tips to help you confidently adopt a flywheel strategy:

Establish Clear Goals & KPIs

Charting a successful course begins with setting clear objectives. Identify specific goals related to customer acquisition, retention, and engagement that align with your overall business vision. Well-defined KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) will help you measure progress and stay on track as you implement your flywheel strategy.

Align Sales & Marketing Teams around Customer-Centric Objectives

Foster collaboration between sales and marketing teams by aligning them around customer-centric objectives. As they come together and combine their expertise, your strategy will be strengthened.

Continuously Monitor and Optimise Flywheel Performance

By regularly reviewing data from your CRM systems and marketing automation tools, you can identify areas for improvement, adjust tactics accordingly, and fine-tune your flywheel performance.

Remember that implementing a flywheel strategy is not a one-time event; it’s an ongoing process that requires constant attention. Keep monitoring your performance, learning from experience, and refining your approaches – this way, you’ll ensure long-lasting success in the world of B2B sales and marketing!

In conclusion, embracing the flywheel approach can profoundly impact your business’s ability to attract new customers while delighting existing ones – all by harnessing the power of CRM systems and marketing automation tools.

Related Links

Article: Modern B2B buying can be complex, but companies can adapt – starting with the customer experience

Article: Why content is at the center of modern customer journeys

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