Let’s Talk About Funnels

In my 20-plus years in this CRM business, I have seen my share of “Funnels”. Lead Funnels, Sales Funnels, Delivery Funnels, every kind of business-related funnel you can think of, I have probably seen it. From what I have witnessed, most businesses have no idea how to use them effectively. So, let’s talk about Funnels.

The Numbers Game

One of the most significant areas I see where customers are consistently missing the mark is in their Sales Funnels. While at the same time tripling their investment in Lead Funnels. The logic seems to go like this; if we currently convert 5% of our Leads into Sales, we just need 10X more Leads. As if somehow, by dramatically increasing the size of a pile of crap, the smell will improve. But, logical as their argument may be, the math does not hold up in execution. If your sales process is working as hard as possible to convert 5% of your Leads, multiplying what gets thrown into that process by ten will not result in a 10X sales increase; more likely, your conversion rate will plummet. And, by the way, multiplying your leads by ten is not cheap or easy to do either.

Fixing the Right Problem

Don’t get me wrong; Leads are vitally important to any business. But creating a waterfall that you are only capturing a bucket from is more than a waste of money and energy; it could actually be hurting you. If 95% of your Leads are not buying, then something is broken, and shoving more people down a broken path is like shooting a bullet into the head of each of those missed opportunities because they are now dead forever. Today you seldom get a second chance.

What is a Healthy Conversion Rate?

That depends on many factors, varies widely by industry, and actually starts with your Lead Funnel. Wide funnels will capture a large number of non-prospects. Why do they click or call when they are not valid candidates? Who knows, boredom, bots, etc.? Either way, they are a waste of your resources. This is a common technique employed by many marketing/SEO agencies, creating a wide funnel so they can point to how many leads they generated to justify the continuation of their services. But the number is not important if you only convert a small percentage of them. There are three possible reasons that you are not converting more. Either a) your value proposition is crap, b) your leads are the wrong people, c) your sales funnel sucks, or a combination of these.

Your Value Proposition

Your perception of your Value Proposition is irrelevant, it is something seen through the eyes of your Prospects, and even highly qualified Prospects will each view it differently. How hard is it to sell your product or services to a qualified lead? If it is too hard, there is something wrong with your value proposition. If it is too easy… there is also something wrong with your value proposition. I am not a buyer of whatever you sell, so having the right value proposition is on you to figure out.

Your Leads are the Wrong People

Congratulations, if how much money you throw away was the measure… you’re winning! Unfortunately, no amount of unqualified Leads will fix a Conversion problem; instead, it compounds it. This leads us to the real issue.

Your Sales Funnel Sucks

The good news is that you are not alone; the bad news is that you are failing to convert 95% of your leads. Effective Sales Funnels are elusive things. This is probably why so much money is shoveled into increasingly wider lead funnels in an attempt to overcome the real problem, but it just masks it at best. Too many people think that their Lead Funnel IS their Sales Funnel, which means they are missing a Funnel.

In most businesses, Marketing, whose job is to create leads, and Sales, whose job is to close them, are related but completely different things. Sure, one thing “should” feed into the other, but the skill to get someone to click on a Google ad, for example, is a different skill than getting that someone to buy. But they are directly related in that the person creating the leads can make the conversion of that lead easier or harder depending on their skill. For most B2B and many B2C organizations, a seller will take over at some point, and a “Sales Funnel” will ensue even if it does not actually exist. Suppose you don’t have an official Sales Funnel that has been thoughtfully developed. In that case, you actually have a unique unofficial funnel for each salesperson based on their personal knowledge, skill, and history. This is also why you see such a wide disparity of close ratios across your sales team.

Building a Sales Funnel

First, do you need a CRM to have a Sales Funnel? A Sales Funnel, like a Lead Funnel, will need some steps. Too many people try and skip having any steps other than “get the prospect on the phone a close them!”. But the 1960s are ancient history, and selling today requires more sophistication and finesse. Just getting that prospect on the phone is no easy task now. A logical, systematic process will generate much higher success, and modern CRM solutions are purpose-built for this. If you feel like CRM solutions are too expensive or complicated, you can check out RapidStart CRM to build your Sales Funnel.

It is possible to build a Sales Funnel by mirroring the steps and process of your star sellers unless all you have are mediocre sellers. Either way, a good Sales Funnel should start before the Lead Funnel ends. To be proactive, you have to know what is coming, what context they are coming in from, and what they have already been informed of before their arrival in your Sales Funnel. CRM solutions can also be utilized to build and track Lead Funnels, making this visibility much easier. Reactive Sales Funnels always have lower success. A good Sales Funnel can make both your stars and your mediocre sellers better.


You may have heard the terms “Sales Enablement” or “Sales Automation”; they are popping up a lot lately. A Sales Funnel is also at the center of these, and varying “Automation” is layered over the Funnel. Applying “Automation” to steps where it makes sense throughout your Sales process can accomplish many things. Among these is a consistency of process. Once you have a working Funnel that generates successful outcomes, you will want to replicate that motion consistently, and nothing is more consistent than automation. Automation is also “instant”, so your process commences immediately when triggered, which is something many customers seem to like. Automation can also multiply the capacity of an existing team, meaning you may not need to hire, and you may be able to shed some dead weight. You have to be certain that your Sales Funnel works before you automate it, or you could automate yourself right out of business.


Funnels are not generic, although my advice here is. Effective Funnels will be unique to every business, so, unfortunately, I can’t provide a step-by-step guide in a blog post that would do much good for you. If I tried, it would not be the proper Funnel for you and could cause more harm than good. But, a firm that builds Sales Funnels all the time, like my company, Forceworks, can help you if you need it.


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