Sales funnel management – which of these mistakes hurt the most? [video]

Which of these 10 mistakes in sales funnel management could hurt you the most? What can you do about them and how can you improve?

The consensus view is that there are 10 common flaws in sales funnel management:

  1. Not segmenting their list of buyer and prospects properly.
  2. They often do not end their follow-up communications with potential customers with a ‘call to action’.
  3. No balance between lead generation / lead management
  4. Centering the sales funnel management on the seller instead of the buyer
  5. Involving salesperson too early in the process of converting them to a customer.
  6. Lack of timely follow up with leads received.
  7. We hang on to dead leads too long
  8. Focusing on technology instead of sales process
  9. Not getting proper training
  10. Not measuring each stage of your sales funnel

First I am going to discuss five articles and synthesize them. I’ll then give you my spin on them, and then give you recommendations.

Article one is by Martin from Cleverism, and it’s How to Effectively Manage and Engage Your Sales Funnel. Given what I’ve typed in at Google this is pretty much exactly what I’d hope to find. Unfortunately, it’s a good example of three common flaws in funnel management, thinking about you and your process instead of the buyer and theirs. Dumbing down your sales process to arbitrary stages and not understanding the common effect of high conversion of early stages to low conversion. It’s not one I am going to recommend though.

Our second article, ‘Sales Funnel Management, Simplify by Cutting Steps, Not Corners’ is by Stewart Leon, on the Sales Force blog. From the get go, I love where that’s going. He does actually make other points but this is one that he makes in the article, pointing to it in the heading. I think it’s an important one. By cutting steps what Stewart’s referring to is that frequently the problem with progression is created by us. We put steps in the way the buyer doesn’t really need to take, so that’s where we need to cut- steps, not corners. I think, in principle, that’s a really strong argument. I would add, don’t try and go faster than your buyer. Although we often want them to go faster, we can’t get ahead. What we really need is to find ways for the buyer to move forward more freely, rather than to rush them. I would recommend it this article as a worthy read.

The third blog we found was: The 4 Biggest Mistakes in Managing Your Sales Funnel by Al Davidson. Let’s look at Mistake 2, focusing on CRM Technology Instead of Your Sales Prices. I might have changed if I was writing, talking about the buyer and their journey rather than the sales process but I admit I generally agree. I think this is a common mistake and they are worth commenting on – it’s accurate.

Blog four is a cracker, ‘An Expert Guide to Sales Funnel Management; 22 Sales Experts.’ They’ve asked 22 opinion leaders for what they think the one biggest mistake is. They compiled their results which is a fantastic effort, so we need to cut them a bit of slack. So if they say the same thing or contradict each other that can be expected. I still recommend that you read the article as well as my synthesis.

Final blog I’m sharing – shared 299 times on Linkedin. It’s a very new subject. Tips on managing sales funnel for selling tickets. There are two consequences. One is that the language and examples are really, really specific and secondly, it’s a very simple transaction. It’s a lot simpler than the audience that I typically write for.

Let me haul out the ten biggest flaws that I read into those articles.

  1. Not segmenting their list of buyer and prospects properly.
  2. They often do not end their follow-up communications with potential customers with a ‘call to action’.
  3. No balance between lead generation / lead management
  4. Centering the sales funnel management on the seller instead of the buyer
  5. Involving salesperson too early in the process of converting them to a customer.
  6. Lack of timely follow up with leads received.
  7. We hang on to dead leads too long
  8. Focusing on technology instead of sales process
  9. Not getting proper training
  10. Not measuring each stage of your sales funnel

Well if that’s the consensus view, what should be done about those common flaws in sales funnel management? What is good sales funnel management look like?

I think there are five elements.

  1. Build your stages around the buyer’s journey, not the sales process. Then, related to that.
  2. Measure how long it takes you to buyers, that’s lag, and how often you fail to move buyers, that’s leakage at every stage. That’s not necessarily what we typically do. In fact, that’s not what we do. Let’s look up what my CRMs do, they’ve got sales process in them. So, that’s definitely a shift. But, here’s the kind of geeky thing I want to argue carefully because I think it’s important.
  3. Segment by behaviour and not demographics. Demographics are a pool proxy for potential behaviour. We want to measure actual behaviour. For example, look at the light funnel behaviour of those who went quickly through early stages versus those who went slower.
  4. Make sales funnel management a shared activity. In the very least, sales and marketing. Why not the whole leadership team?
  5. Run experiments to optimize where you can make the biggest difference in your lag and your leakage. Here’s the key, look to decrease your leakage, not lag. In a lot of experiments that we’ve run, trying to speed the process up increases leakage at an unacceptable rate. By contrast, reducing leakage does not affect lag, so work on leakage

But number 2 and this is going to contradict my earlier point, remove roadblocks to lag. That is identify: Is some of the lag caused by you? Are you putting impediments in front of the buyers and causing them to go slower? Do you ask them to make too big a decision at each of the points, each of the stages in their journey? Think about it from their perspective and find ways to remove roadblocks for them.

When you know what sources are generating the best outcomes, double down on them. You can do a whole lot more and more easily by changing your sources rather than your tactics when you know that one source leads to a better outcome than another.

Now, I want to give you a couple tools to help you.

Firstly, if you got value out of today’s blog, go to align.me/blog or go to youtube.com/alignmeb2b and subscribe to the blogs so that you’re the first to hear about it.

But, when you’re managing your sales funnel, you clearly need a tool that describes what the sales funnel is supposed to look like and a tool for measuring what’s actually going on. We’ve done a lot of work on the Funnel Plan and what you’ll find when you look at it that the building of the process, the plan, the sales funnel as it’s supposed to operate is now really, really easy and easy for you to do with sales and marketing in the room together. But, that’s just the start.

Now you need to measure it. We’ve added the ability to integrate sales funnel with your CRM and what that means is you can actually see what your sales funnel management currently looks like compared to what it’s supposed to look like. That’s your plan, what’s actually going on is your CRM and it looks at the two together, giving you a good sense of what you need to change. Then it gives you full free advice on what you need to change to improve the plan versus actual.

Take a look at funnelplan.com. Check it out for yourself.

funnel-plan-sales-and-marketing-planning-tool

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