It is time to rethink the business development funnel for high value B2B organizations.
The traditional funnel focuses too much on top of funnel strategy. It fools us into thinking if we just continue to fill the top with new leads, deals will keep sliding out the bottom. The visual may be a perfect guide for selling low-cost consumer goods, but it doesn’t represent multi-stage, multi-decision maker sales cycles for a few reasons:
- Speed: Top of funnel is your slowest sales channel
- Cost: Top of funnel is your most expensive sales channel
- Volume: The numbers simply don’t work. Top of funnel on its own can’t produce the volume of deals necessary to fuel the kind of growth needed to reach company goals.
In our new, less-streamlined, version of the funnel, we keep the top the same. We’ve got nothing against the top of the funnel. It constantly needs to be fed, and we love the leads that fast track to the bottom.
However, the middle needs some more attention – and our visual reboot gives it the attention it deserves!
In our new funnel, we stretch out the middle … a lot. History, math, and mountains of data tell us that if we hand off 100 marketing qualified leads, only a small percentage will become sales qualified and an even smaller percentage will become opportunities. So, we need a plan for extracting the value from all those targets we paid to educate and qualify who are simply not ready to buy today. That is your middle – and it needs to be grown and nurtured.
A healthy middle is a sign that you have educated your market and your market is interested. They’re not ready to buy today so you need a constant drip of relevant information that keeps you top of mind. And when these qualified leads are ready to buy, they’ll move fast and close at a high percentage. The middle should become one of your team’s highest conversion groups.
But we don’t stop there.
The end of the funnel also needs some work. The old funnel teaches us that selling one product is a finish line when it is really just a new start. Client rosters are full of businesses who purchased once and never bought again, or who use just one of the many services you offer. The new funnel challenges us to define the land-and-expand or upsell/cross-sell strategy and activate it.
Our new funnel doesn’t fit the mold, but it moves the needle – a trade we’re more than happy to make. And if you are willing to rethink and redraw it – you will reap the rewards of a full-funnel strategy.