The sales funnel

Andrew Neitlich
Andrew Neitlich

Today’s post covers a basic principle in sales, but one that is always worth a refresher.

The “sales funnel” is a nice image for conveying the overall marketing and sales process. Imagine a funnel, with a wide top and a narrow bottom.

Your overall target market represents the top of the funnel.

Then gradually the funnel narrows as you have suspects, prospects (at various stages of hiring you), clients, and repeat clients.

The trick to an effective sales funnel is having it as wide as possible at all stages.

For instance, I get all sorts of inquiries thanks to my various websites. However, given the impersonal nature of the Internet, not all of these inquiries are serious. For instance, just last week the Training Director of a Fortune 500 cosmetics company contacted me to provide coaching to some of their top stars. I don’t have any previous relationships with this company, don’t know much about cosmetics sales (okay, I don’t know anyting about cosmetics sales), and am one of dozens of people the company is considering. So my odds of getting hired are relatively low. As a result, I need to have lots of inquiries like this coming my way to convert some to sales. (At the same time, with a focused target market, I get more inquiries that are in my sweet spot and that have a high chance of converting to sales.)

To me, the main lesson of the sales funnel is that you want to be as visible as possible in your target market so that as many prospects as possible find their way into your funnel.

That way, “selling” becomes a conversation to assess fit, not some sort of magical persuasive conversation that drives my revenue. People come to me because of effective marketing that speaks to a specific target market, which includes referrals, speaking, writing, an effective web presence, publicity, and generally becoming the go-to professional in your market.

So take a look at your sales funnel. If you are not getting enough sales, why? It could be that you don’t convert enough prospects into clients, but my guess is that you aren’t attracting enough people into your funnel via effective marketing.