Use the sales funnel or the hour glass or just spin those plates

Have you ever noticed how many consultants and authors put their own spin on the sales funnel? The concept of the sales funnel isn’t new and it is a useful tool. CRM and sales automation software suppliers make a good living promoting their ability to standardize and track steps in the sales process and to automate appropriate marketing responses for each step. It reduces the burden on sales people to have to spin all of the plates. But reputation can clog up the funnel.

Spinning Plates on sticks

I’m not knocking anyone’s definition or redefinition of the funnel. If I had to pick the definition that seems to best describe the stages in a typical distribution company it would either be John Jantsch’s Marketing Hourglass or the Consumer Decision Journey discussed in the December 2010 issue of HBR.

The key to the usefulness of the sales funnel as a tool is that you take the time to understand the steps in a sell. Existing customers start at a different place than new customers and you can’t start the conversation in the middle with a new customer. All of your conversations leading up to that sell play a role as does the image and reputation you and your company have established over time. As I heard Frank Eliason say, your brand is what comes up when someone Googles your name. The same goes for your reputation.

What steps are you taking to correct any missteps from the past? Share with us ways you overcome a less than stellar reputation.

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