Is Your Funnel Sick? – Part 1 of Funnel Series

This is the first in a series of blog postings about sick sales funnels, a notion that IDC popularized in 2011. I’ll explore this malady by explaining how to recognize warning signs, perform a diagnosis, and treat underlying causes.

We view a funnel as a sales process owned jointly by sales and marketing. Both organizations – as well as contributors in other places – fill it at the top with prospects. The journey to the end of the funnel (conversion to a customer) involves filtering, nurturing, intelligence-gathering and traditional sales techniques. The nature of these processes weed out, at various stages, those prospects who are least likely to buy.

The steepness of funnel walls may be viewed, conceptually, as a health indicator. It’s something like measuring a person’s body temperature. For example, if those walls are too steep or too narrow, lead velocity may be too high. Key funnel processes may be operating poorly, or not at all.

Whatever the nature of the malady, sales and marketing together are accountable for curing the patient.

Does your funnel show any of these symptoms?

  • lead volumes too small
  • lead volumes too large
  • slow velocity through the funnel
  • lead-to-sale ratio below industry standard

Symptoms from outside the funnel may include:

  • lack of accuracy in reports from CRM and marketing automation systems
  • prospects complain about duplicate emails
  • many duplicates in the CRM system
  • can’t generate useful lists from the CRM system

Let’s look at an example that illustrates some of these symptoms.

You are trying to sell an enterprise class network security solution to Fortune 100 companies. You invested in offline advertising (billboard, TV, print) as well as online channels (SEO, PPC and a social media campaign). Over a six week period, you drove over 10,000 visitors to your website. In spite of your large marketing expenditure, no sales close.

What went wrong?  How do you go about isolating and fixing these problems?

I’ll explore the diagnosis and treatment of sick funnels in subsequent postings.

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