The traditional sales funnel is dead.
While that might seem a little dramatic, organizations need to adapt to modern consumer experiences and buying behaviors. In fact, only 17% of buyers spend time meeting with a potential partner before making a purchase decision. Advances in technology have given B2B buyers a wealth of new knowledge that empowers them to come to their own conclusions about your services before picking up the phone.
The idea that “sales is harder” actually means that traditional sales strategies are losing their effectiveness. Eliminating inefficiencies is the first step in developing a lean sales funnel that drives more lead conversions and reduces unnecessary waste.
Applying lean principles to your sales strategy requires a new way of looking at your team and process. Let’s take a look at what a lean sales funnel is and how you can start developing one to increase your ROI.
What is a Lean Sales Funnel?
Your sales funnel is a metaphor that maps your sales process from the beginning to the end and includes various stages of customer behaviors. Traditionally, it believes that customers follow a linear path to learn about your services, engage with your sales team, and convert into loyal customers. Sale and marketing teams often try to engage with as many leads as possible, with the hope that a certain percentage will convert.
However, a healthy and lean sales pipeline doesn’t mean more leads. Too many leads can jam your pipeline and result in you spending wasted resources on prospects who never have the intention of making a purchase.
A lean sales funnel focuses on continuous improvement to implement changes that increase overall quality and efficiency. To embrace a lean sales funnel, organizations need to visualize their sales organization as a process that can be measured and improved.
A successful lean sales funnel demonstrates the following:
- Clearly defines a sales process to close more deals
- Quantifies prospects and their value to your brand
- Utilizes data to empower results and improve communication
- Reduces waste while still improving your value to the buyer
Top 4 Secrets to Drive More Lead Conversions with a Lean Funnel
If you want to increase productivity, eliminate waste, and effectively connect with your customers, it’s essential to develop a lean sales funnel. Here are a few secrets to building a funnel that focuses on a customer-first mindset to drive more lead conversions:
1. Target the Right Accounts, Not Everybody
Traditionally, sales and marketing used a one-size-fits-all mentality that included canned responses and generic ad campaigns. You didn’t need to develop personalized messaging or execute an omnichannel approach because you were trying to connect people with no common denominators.
When using a lean approach, you first identify your target customers or accounts to reduce unnecessary waste. Are they in a certain industry or location? Do they need to have a certain number of employees or annual revenue? Figure out your criteria to develop target profiles and personas. From there, uncover what their pain points are and how your services can help them realize and solve their biggest problems.
2. Utilize Data, Not Opinions
In the past, sales funnels didn’t have an effective way to measure cause and effect. There wasn’t a clear lens into your conversion rate or the process it took to get there.
A lean sales funnel embraces a data-driven approach to identify the customer journey and label individuals as leads, qualified prospects, and customers. With data derived from your marketing and sales teams, you can observe characteristics that make them more likely to convert and move them along the cycle with personalized content. Understanding the customer journey allows you to build trust and create value at the right time.
3. Be Hands-On, Not Reactive
A lot of sales funnels take on the “set-it-and-forget-it” mentality. The longer you wait to identify improvements, the more likely you are to lose the prospect’s trust and sale.
Instead, a lean sales funnel requires sales leadership to actively participate in the initiatives to adjust and improve along the way. For example:
- Are your prospects engaging with your content?
- Has your sales cycle increased or decreased?
- Are stakeholders responding to your value proposition?
- Are you able to qualify leads throughout the customer journey?
By understanding how your process is working, you’re more likely to identify gaps and establish new ways to improve the process.
4. Create Collaboration, Not Competition
There is often friction between sales and marketing teams within the traditional sales cycle. Sales believe they’re running the show, but marketing thinks they’re driving the leads.
However, a lean sales funnel embraces a team mentality. When all departments – sales, marketing, customer service, IT, etc. – are aligned and in harmony, you can better serve your customer’s needs. Engage with your customers and collect data to develop more compelling messaging and learn how to solve their problems quickly. Without this evidence, you may end up shooting in the dark.
Drive More Lead Conversions with a Lean Sales Funnel
Developing a lean sales funnel not only drives more conversions, but also helps you build engaging and long-lasting relationships with customers and internal departments. Instead of creating a generic sales process, you can create an effective funnel that encourages constant improvement to boost your bottom line.
Learn more about reaching your revenue goals with an efficient sales and marketing strategy.