Setting Up and Managing a Double Funnel: Insights from Coupa CMO Chandar Pattabhiram

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January 31, 2023

4 mins read

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Setting Up and Managing a Double Funnel: Insights from Coupa CMO Chandar Pattabhiram

The Smarter CMO Forum is a series of peer conversations, hosted by Demandbase, where senior marketing leaders gather to discuss their biggest challenges. A recent Smarter CMO Forum meetup, hosted by Coupa CMO Chandar Pattabhiram, focused on “How to Set Up and Manage Double Funnels.” 

So what is a “double funnel”? It’s a funnel that tracks both lead-based metrics from traditional demand gen (such as MQLs) as well as account-based metrics (such as MQAs). Funnel metrics help organizations connect specific investments/actions to impacts on revenues to maximize the effectiveness of every single dollar in the budget. The double funnel is a “both/and” approach – asking, why must we choose either the MQL or the MQA when they can be stronger together, working side-by-side?

After all, an account is typically made up of a buying committee and that committee is made up of individuals. We need to see the account as a whole, with an account-based context to engage with individuals within each account. Accounts and leads, MQAs and MQLs, aren’t archenemies but can actually sing in harmony. 

Setting Up the Double Funnel: People, Processes, and Technology

“We look at operationalizing our double funnel in terms of people, process, and technology,” says Coupa CMO Pattabhiram. “So first on people, we’ve segregated our marketing teams using a clear alignment based on [B2B customer] segments.” Coupa (a SaaS/software provider) has a dedicated account-based marketing team for enterprise companies/accounts and another one dedicated to small and midsize businesses/SMBs. Coupa deploys a digital center of excellence that serves each team in targeting their enterprise and SMB accounts, respectively. 

In terms of processes around engaging accounts, Coupa uses three tiers of ABM: one-to-one, one-to-few, and one-to-many.  Each “are driven by an entitlement model [note: account entitlements are a framework created to make clear what the level of investment should be for each tier of accounts], which is based on discussions we’ve had [internally],” says Pattabhiram. “ So maybe the North American enterprise sales organization gets 5 one-to-one accounts, 15 one-to-few accounts, and a single one-to-many for a more scalable approach.”

On the technology side of the double funnel, says Pattabhiram, “the most important tool we use is the single, Demandbase platform.” Coupa deploys Demandbase as “the orchestrator of our entire approach, from gaining intent and insight into different accounts and then going into different account journeys,” depending on the account’s level of engagement and funnel stage. With an account context and account-based insights from Demandbase, “you can move the deal forward, even if an account is not initially engaged” and provide tailored messaging to advance the account journey from awareness to closed revenue and increased lifetime value.

How MQAs and MQLs Live in Harmony

How does Coupa keep one funnel from cannibalizing the other? “What we do differently at Coupa is we look at MQLs and MQAs together as a sourcing model,” says Pattabhiram. So instead of Coupa asking “what’s your inbound, your outbound, and what is sales driving?,” the software company has created “an allbound model, which means that about 30-35% of our business needs to come from inbound and then 65% is allbound, which is the cost of MQAs – sales, marketing, and account development reps going after target accounts.”

Since teams are aligned to the same target accounts with allbound, Pattabhiram says, “sourcing doesn’t really matter in that context and the way to operationalize allbound is to create the incentive system so that account development reps are comped regardless of what the sourcing is.”

The allbound model has reduced conflict in the enterprise business, notes Pattabhiram, who offered a hypothetical.“If we’re going after Procter and Gamble, for instance, the partner at Accenture might have introduced us to the CIO, then the CIO might have come to our website or maybe attended an event we hosted, and then maybe someone from our sales team had dinner with someone at P&G, but who really cares about who’s sourcing it, whether it’s sales or marketing, right?” 

Pattabhiram explains that “the allbound model has really paid off for us in terms of driving harmony, not harm within our operation, because conflicts over sourcing have been eliminated by treating MQLs and MQAs the same.”

To learn more about how Demandbase can help drive efficiency with your organization’s inbound and allbound motion, see a demo here.

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Moira van den Akker

Director, Enterprise Marketing , Demandbase

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