Do you believe in only one funnel? Or are you open to the idea that there are two distinct and important funnels?

We talk about it all the time – the funnel. I have a lead generation funnel, a marketing funnel, a sales funnel…yet do we take the time to really clarify exactly what funnels we have? Or are you part of the camp that believes there is one, all-encompassing magic funnel that takes care of all your needs?

Truly effective lead generation efforts are supported by a well-constructed funnel. The same goes for sales opportunities – often called the pipeline. So can you really say with confidence that there is one funnel?

Think of it this way – your lead generation efforts have a specific purpose – the generate awareness in your services or products. Your sales funnel, on the other hand, is guiding a potential buyer through the process so that they purchase from you.

These are not the same processes – nor the same conversations. Lead generation should be steps taken to bring someone to the decision that they are interested. Sales is the process of nurturing that interest toward a purchase.

By lumping funnels together and choosing not to make strong distinctions between the funnel processes, you are confusing your potential leads and creating more work for your sales team.

Challenge the Norm: Take a step back and think about the process of lead generation. What is at the top of the funnel? It should be introductions to your company, your brand, your products and/or services and why you do what you do. There are most likely some freebies so that you can compel someone unfamiliar with your brand to take a chance with you. These calls to action are lighter in nature, less specific, and geared toward getting someone to continue to interact with you.

Lead generation funnels are meant to create interest and generate awareness. Syndicating blogs, creating compelling content, videos that showcase products and services are all part of this strategy. What is not part of this strategy is a continued call to action to buy, buy, buy. These people are not ready to buy yet. They are still getting to know you. When they are ready to buy, you then have a prospect.

That is when your sales funnel should kick it. The point that triggers your company to know that someone is interested changes the category from lead to sales, and places that person squarely in the sales pipeline. Now you have more focused conversations. Learn about more specific needs, and create more detailed content to explain how you are the best solution. You have an outreach campaign that is much different in a sales pipeline. It may include inside sales telephoning the prospect, or having a sales call to learn more. Either way, you know that this individual is ready to have a deeper conversation with you because they told you so.

Lead generation is not sales. It’s the precursor to selling and a critical component to getting your sales team warm, qualified leads to prospect. The first step to ensuring this becomes a natural process in your organization is to spend the time understanding and defining the two funnels you need – lead generation and sales. Then it becomes much easier to close sales and grow your business.

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