To Optimize your Sales & Marketing Funnel, Consider Deploying the PEACE Model

By: Phil Stern   Megan Heinz  |  October 6, 2021

Recently, Phil Stern and Megan Heinz on Mainsail’s Operations Team, hosted a “Braindate” at the SaaStr Annual 2021 conference in San Francisco. During the session, attendees heard from Phil and Megan on how to build a discipline around funnel optimization that can help go-to-market teams work more effectively together and deliver better results.  

Below is a review of the topic that was discussed. 

Your customer acquisition funnel is imperfect. You lose a few (perhaps many) percentage points of conversion at every step. It’s something we’ve come to expect.  

There are flaws in every funnel. Sometimes, these are friction points in the prospect experience that allow unqualified leads to get generated. Mixed messaging from marketing and sales. A clunky free trial experience. Inefficient systems for routing new leads to salespeople.  

For many teams, it’s a combination of all these things and more.  

But you’ve also just spent significant time and money building your product, marketing it and selling it. Simply accepting an imperfect funnel and “good enough” conversion rates won’t work. Instead, you need to have a process around Funnel Optimization.  

To optimize your funnel, consider deploying the PEACE model. 

The PEACE Model: 

  • People: Create the right cross-functional team (product, ops, sales & marketing) 
  • Empowered: Give them autonomy, agency and decision-making ability 
  • Accountable: Hold them accountable to shared goals across functions 
  • Customer: Put the customer experience at the center of every decision they make 
  • Evergreen: Make a long-term commitment to improvement 

Using the PEACE Model, you can avoid one of the most common mistakes we see when businesses attempt to optimize their funnel: each team (sales, marketing, product, operations) operating independently. Teams make changes, the customer journey is impacted, and not every team is aware of what happened. One team might be delivering the same customer experience they were a year ago while another team has totally changed how they engage with prospects and customers.  

Think of this from your customer’s perspective. You are handing them a map with directions to a desired destination. Changing one step in those directions, while potentially saving time in that step, may inadvertently cause issues down the line; the entire map no longer makes sense. 

Companies that do Funnel Optimization well are those that work best cross-functionally. They have clear lines of communication, regular touchpoints, and shared goals across functional teams. These cross-functional teams have goals above and beyond their day-to-day responsibilities and meet regularly.  

The PEACE Model in Action

Let’s look at a sample funnel:

1,000 visitors become 20 leads; 20 leads yield 4 MQLs; 4 MQLs convert to 2 SQLs;
2 SQLs yield one deal. With a $25k ACV, you get $25k for every 1,000 visitors.

For many businesses in this scenario, a subset of teams would look at those funnel metrics and each functional team would set off to improve their piece of the funnel. Marketing would work to improve visit-to-lead and lead-to-MQL. Sales would work to improve MQL-to-SQL and SQL-to-Closed Won. Would they remember to include product? Certainly not in every business.  

When you deploy the PEACE model, the steps to improving your funnel are different. Instead of each functional team working on its own to improve sections of the funnel, the entire group of cross-functional leaders gets together, maps out the customer journey, reviews the funnel data, looks at the current experience and discusses all potential solutions.  

To nail the PEACE Model process, follow these three steps: 

1. CONVENE THE RIGHT CROSS-FUNCTIONAL TEAM and ensure they spend time on this every day. This won’t be their top responsibility nor their entire role, but the work should take up a meaningful amount of capacity. This is not a side hustle. 

Who should be on this team? 

2. DEFINE A CLEAR PURPOSE AND PROCESS TO DRIVE FOCUS. Determine how your sales and marketing funnel is performing today and identify the highest impact areas to focus on. You can’t multitask across all areas of the funnel that need work, so pick your focus. Think about this exercise in six steps: Identify, create, prioritize, sequence, build, execute. 

    1. Identify all friction points in the funnel from Visit-to-lead through Lead-to-close. Use data, shadow sales, and consider a secret shopper. 
    2. Create a plan that addresses all friction points, no matter how small. 
    3. Prioritize. Have team members vote on the prioritization of each item on the list. Discuss and debate what’s most critical. 
    4. Sequence. Have team members then take the prioritized items and create an order for how you’ll tackle them. Which top priority item gets done first? 
    5. Build KPI dashboards and reporting process so you can analyze and report on all changes.
    6. Execute. Start ticking off projects, one at a time. 

3. OUTLINE THE PROJECTS THAT ARE NECESSARY TO COMPLETE THE WORK. Once you’ve identified your areas of focus, lay out the projects. What specific work will need to get done, and by whom, to improve specific areas. Sometimes that’s tech related, sometimes it’s process. Sometimes it’s people. Sometimes it’s testing, or positioning, etc.  

Funnel Optimization as a Mindset  

Optimizing your funnel is a discipline, not a project. It’s an ongoing assignment that you, and your peers and team members, will have to commit to every month and quarter, constantly tweaking your approach to best deliver results.  

As a discipline, Funnel Optimization encompasses the right team, with a clear purpose, focusing on the right projects, to impact the highest value elements of your buyer’s journey.  

People Purpose → Projects 

Funnel Optimization is about identifying all friction points in your buyer’s journey and doing everything you can to smooth them out. But more importantly, it’s about consistently working cross-functionally to improve your prospect experience. It’s not just a project to redesign your website. Or a project to improve your sales messaging or cadences. (Though both of those can help conversion rates.) It’s about understanding the interplay of all your touchpoints with your prospect from when they first encounter your brand, all the way through when they’ve completed onboarding or implementation onto your platform.  

In broadening your scope, you will end up examining your customer journey and funnel in ways you haven’t before. Because there are likely things you’re doing—or things you’re missing—that are changing your conversions rates for better or worse. Only with a cross-functional team specifically chartered to optimize the funnel can you help people get out of their silos and improve the performance of the funnel. 

Phil is a Operating Principal at Mainsail Partners. He leads the firm’s Center of Excellence for Sales and is responsible for helping Mainsail’s portfolio companies optimize their growth strategies and deploy sales practices.
More by Phil Stern
Meg is Vice President of Revenue Operations at Mainsail. She is responsible for helping Mainsail’s portfolio companies implement best practices and drive go-to-market efficiencies to support their growth, among other operational initiatives.
More by Megan Heinz
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