The concept of a sales funnel is one of the most common models for managing sales activities and sales teams. This model is built on the understanding that you put in some amount of activity into the top of the funnel and then out of that you’ll get a particular number of conversations. Then, from those conversations, you’ll get a certain number of set appointments. And out of the appointments you execute, you’ll gain a certain number of sales leads. This pattern keeps going which leads to the fact that a certain ratio of leads produced should be closed and this out of the bottom of the funnel.
There are three pitfalls which can limit the reliability and consistency of this model while the math and logic with the funnel is all sound.
1. Assuming Effort = Results
We’re believing that putting in some amount of activity into the top of the funnel will lead to some amount of results when subscribing to the sales funnel model. But effort alone is not guaranteed to lead to any results in the world of sales. We could see little or no results from our hard work if we work hard and put in a high level of effort but our messaging and technique is not where it should be. This happens because the business world is highly competitive and if we come in second place, we won’t get points for trying hard. Because of this, if we put any type of activity into the funnel and have the expectation that results will be produced, we could create an expectation built on a weak foundation.
2. Assuming Ratios are Static
Believing the ratios throughout the sales funnel are partly fixed and should be the same for everybody is another setback that we can fall into. This would allude to the expectation that the entire sales team should have the same conversion rates throughout the funnel – producing conversations from cold calls, shifting conversations to meetings, and for making leads become closed deals. Every sales person is unique and there are many factors included so it’s fairly unrealistic to have expectations for different members of a sales team to have identical funnel shapes.
Also, we can get hung up on the assumption that the conversion rates are what they are as well as that there isn’t a lot that can be done to improve them. We might have the belief that hit, lead, and close rates are somewhat fixed as well as that the main variable we need to focus on and manage is the activity level which is put into the top of the funnel.
3. Only looking at the top of the funnel
We can get caught in only focusing on the top of the sales funnel and activity level which we’re putting in which picks up where the previous pitfall leaves off. We throw more callers and more actual dials at the problem because we need more sales. We definitely need to make calls because we cannot simply wait around for prospects to call us, but this strategy is flawed because if our message and/or our technique are off, we could be creating a misdirected approach and the extra effort may not yield results which could be a waste of time and money.