Why Today's Sales Funnel Doesn't Look Like Yesterday's Sales Funnel

Why Yesterday’s Sales Funnel No Longer Works

We recently read an amazing article in the Harvard Business Review that supports an inbound sales perspective on the state of sales, and specifically, the sales funnel.

The article supports the change in buyer behaviour that is influencing every single business in the world today. More significantly, this change is directly connected to how you should be marketing and selling your products and services to all of your prospects and customers.

The Linear Sales Funnel Is No More

We see this every day with our clients. In the article, they mention that people are no longer starting at the top of the funnel (in the awareness stage) and systematically working their way down. Today, they move up and down the funnel fluidly, depending on their own agendas. This means sales people no longer control the process. Your sales process is not going to control prospects' access to information or their feelings toward your business.

They are coming to the table much more educated than ever before, and some of them may even be entering your sales funnel in the middle of it – instead of at the top. Because of this change in behaviour, your marketing MUST include educational offers at each stage of the funnel: top, middle and bottom. And your sales process itself must evolve to recognize and support this new buyer behaviour.

The Experience is Everything

Your business is not going to thrive if you don't consider the buyer’s journey or the prospect’s experience from beginning to end. You will easily stand out in the minds of your prospects if you compose a concerted effort to make their experience remarkable, as most of your competitors are failing in this area.

This means ensuring that your website (their first stop in experiencing your business) is amazing. By stocking your site with educational content and working hard to help make your prospects smarter, you set your business apart. By responding to their requests quickly and offering them more educational content at all stages of their buying process, you enforce your company’s position as an educator rather than a seller.

Stop Advertising and Start Educating

If you are still advertising – in any way – stop immediately. This includes any outbound efforts to push your message “in front” of prospective customers. It also means interruptive techniques like cold calling. Consumers are immune to advertising. There are now technologies like DVR and ad blocker software to eliminate these annoying interruptions, and more importantly, we have already learned to tune the ads out.

if you are offering to educate people, make them smarter, help them look good in front of their bosses or make them feel safe in terms of buying your products or services – you're on target.

This educational process matches perfectly with new buyer behaviours; the new sales funnel cycle and even the marketing tools available to everyone. Google’s new algorithm updates and social media match perfectly with content and those companies that publish content. When you adopt this approach, it’s going to be easier for people that are seeking your offerings to find you and connect with you.

Stop Selling And Start Guiding

Make sure that your sales process matches your marketing process. If you are open to providing educational content while you market to your prospects, you should never abandon that approach once a prospect chooses to engage with a sales person. In other words, once a prospects asks to engage with sales, the conversation shouldn’t switch to, “when would you like to meet, and can I send you a proposal?”

Change Your Perspective On Measurement

The old measures of success are quickly becoming outdated as well. No longer should you be looking at how much you are spending on marketing, but rather what you are getting in return. Cost per sale, cost per lead and metrics like website visitors, conversion rates and leads are key performance indicators that you should be reviewing weekly, monthly and quarterly.

The world has changed – right in front of our eyes. If you don’t change how you market and sell your business, it's going to become increasingly difficult to hit your sales targets and grow your business.

Actionable Advice: Revamping sales and marketing isn’t something you do overnight. It might require retraining your entire sales team, which is a daunting task. However, you're able to plan your way to success if you think through all of the necessary elements of the transformation. Don’t underestimate this. Cold calling, brochures, trade shows, appointment setting and sales letters are all outdated and ineffective methods for engaging your prospects. You need to rethink the entire process from first contact to the signed agreement.