By Curt Nelson, President & CEO, EDC, Inc.
The average salesperson deals with prospect leads as they come, working all that they can, leveraging their product or service to fit the need and get the order. Absent available leads, they prospect in much the same manner, looking for anyone willing to listen. Asked about their sales funnel, they explain all of the prospects they are working in an aggregate manner, in reality describing a sales “bucket.”
Sales professionals understand the difference between a sales funnel and a bucket of poorly-qualified prospects.
- They know they can’t handle “all that come.” They know how many qualified prospects they can handle effectively and they manage to that number.
- They plan to close at least 75% of the prospects they place in their funnel and they are careful to qualify each opportunity accordingly. They establish qualification criteria that helps them quickly identify optimal prospects: intensity of need, sense of urgency, size of the opportunity, stage in buying process, competition involved, type of buyer, optimal fit for their offering, etc.
- They fill their funnel with diversification and flow in mind. They have a range of deal opportunity sizes and time frames designed to build consistency and stability into their revenue and income generation.
- They manage the flow of their funnel weekly. They know what they need to add, when and how to move prospects from to stage to stage, and they get orders when planned.
Of the scores of sales people I have interviewed or encountered in my career, very few of them understood how to build and manage a quality sales funnel. They fail to understand that selling is a strategic process that demands the satisfaction of the prospect, their own company, and themselves. They fail to understand true prospect needs and their ability to fill those needs. They fail to assess each opportunity for optimal fit and ability to win. And they fail to build and manage a quality process that would allow them to control their sales destiny.
Sales funnels are tools like any other. The ability to perfect the use of the tool in a way that maximizes performance is the key to great success. All professional golfers use quality golf clubs – but every golfer perfects his/her own personal swing to maximize the effect of the club on the ball. You can easily locate many variations of a sales funnel tool. It is up to you to perfect the use of that tool, maximize your selling success and kick the “bucket” goodbye!