The Sales Funnel – It’s Just Too One-Sided!
I have heard over a number of blogs, books, and even television that the traditional sales funnel is dead, and is being replaced with a new funnel based on the customer buying process. The problem is, the new funnel has almost the same fatal flaw as the old funnel…..it ignores the other party involved in the purchasing process. It’s just too one-sided.
Take a step back when thinking about the sales funnel, and think about it in the context of the strategy/goals of the executives within the sales function. After all, the sales funnel is only supposed to serve as a tool to help sales executives achieve their strategy/goals. The strategy for most sales executives is simple: Invest in sales opportunities that drive profitable, long-term revenue. Broken down that means: Multiple Income Funnel System
-Differentiate opportunities by their quality (Invest).
-Sell at a higher profitability.
-Create long-term relationships by selling to customers your company is strategically valuable to.
The traditional sales funnel was born in the mid 1900s from a process engineering perspective, defining all the sales activities that must take place [chronologically] in order for a sale to close. The funnel was used to coach salespeople on the activities they needed to complete in order to move a greater quantity of sales to close in less time (NOTE: this only achieves 1/3 of the above strategy). The steps vary for each company, but at a high level they are: initial contact, qualification, presentation, and close. The traditional sales-activity funnel made some sense in the mid 1900s, because the seller controlled the buying process.
More recently with the proliferation of things like retail chains, eCommerce, and social networking, buyers have taken full control of the purchasing process; selling is now about meeting the buyer on their terms and understanding the steps they take during their purchasing process. As I am sure you can imagine, this change made the sales-activity funnel obsolete and laid the foundation for the onslaught of the “new sales funnel” prophets who are changing the sales funnel from a selling-activity orientation to a buying-process orientation. The process varies for each segment of buyer, but at a high level the process is need/pain recognition, commitment to resolving the need/pain, evaluation of alternatives, and decision. There are several benefits to using the buying-process funnel that will boost the seller’s ability to move a greater quantity of sales to close in less time, and in some cases more profitably. To better understand specific benefits, take a look at BNET’s interview of Mark Sellers, author of “The Funnel Principal”.