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Emergency Triage of Your Sales Funnel

How’s your sales funnel looking these days?

For many of you, the funnel might be fairly empty. If you work in a “non-essential industry,” your customers might be shut down. No one is buying. You might even be seriously concerned about whether your company will make it through this crisis.

Others of you might have exactly the opposite problem. If you serve an “essential” industry, demand for your products and services has gone through the roof. You might be finding it so difficult to meet your customers’ needs that you run the risk of losing valuable customers to the competition.

These problems are polar opposites.

But their solutions are exactly the same.

From a sales ops perspective, one of the best things you can do during this crisis is to look for ways to refine and streamline your sales process. You need to make sure that you are finding the most qualified prospects and moving them through the funnel as quickly as possible without wasting time on leads that aren’t going to pan out.

Of course, knowing that you should do this and know how to do this are two different things.

We find that it is often easier to figure out the how if you look at the sales funnel as if it were an assembly line. Leads come in one side, and sales come out the other. In between are a whole lot of intermediate steps — and customers can drop out of the funnel at any one of those steps.

Rather than looking at your overall close rate, try calculating the close rate for each of the major intermediate steps in your process. If one particular step has a particularly low close rate, then you know where to start looking for ways to improve your sales process.

Every sales process is unique. And every B2B company has its own set of sales problems that are different from anyone else’s. But it’s surprisingly common for organizations to discover that a simple tweak can have a huge impact.

For example, tightening up lead qualification criteria often has a dramatic streamlining effect on the sales funnel. By looking closely at the chokepoints in your sales process, you might find that a particular kind of customer tends to drop out at a certain point or a certain type of customer takes a really long time to move from one step in the process to another. If you can shift your focus to the most profitable customers, you’ll waste less time, energy, and money chasing down those that are less profitable.

And that kind of streamlining is tremendously valuable whether the global pandemic is a boom or a bust for your business. If you have too much demand, you’ll be able to prioritize those customers that will be the most profitable over the long term and make sure your serve them well. And if you have too little demand, it will help you find those customers that are buying during this time and fill your funnel with more of them.

Two different resources discuss this idea in more depth. Check out How to Improve Your Close Rates and How to Optimize Your Sales Funnel. Both discuss the idea of the sales funnel as an assembly line and how you can use that concept to your advantage.

This is a difficult time for everyone, and we would never want to suggest that any one thing is going to solve all the business problems created by this pandemic. There are just too many factors no one can control. But there are some things you can control. And doing those things will not only help your business, it can bring hope to a world that really needs it.

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