What if the sales funnel was shaped differently?

We can all identify the image to the left — the iconic sales funnel. You have probably seen each layer labeled something different over the years, but this age-old shape has remained the same.

The traditional sales funnel has been monumental in helping sales professionals understand their role in how to transition leads into sales. In its simplest form, this iconic shape makes the case that the more leads you have at the top of the funnel, the more sales you will land at the bottom.

Yes, this model works, but is it the most efficient? What if we re-shaped the funnel; allowing sales teams to require less leads, yet still land as many (if not more) deals?

By changing the sales funnel to a champagne flute shape, we are suggesting sales teams spend less time generating demand and more time capturing it. By taking the time to seek qualified leads within target market segments (champagne flute), instead of chasing a large quantity of unqualified leads from both target and non-target market segments (martini glass), you can actually reach your goals more quickly and waste less time with leads that are unlikely to convert.

Engage QUALIFIED leads, instead of QUANTITY leads.

Let’s look at a couple of contrasting examples to identify the differences:

Example of the old model: The martini glass-shaped funnel, is founded on sales professionals using a shotgun approach— covering a wide area, getting as many leads as possible. A B2B salesperson is told that they will need 330 leads to win 28 deals. First of all—wow—that is a lot of leads. And second, chances are, there aren’t even 330 companies in the salesperson’s territory that fit the profile. Not only would it be difficult to get that many (mostly unqualified) leads, it would be impossible. But because this is the traditional model, the salesperson continues to go out and find any and all leads, qualified or not, just to do their job of filling the funnel. In this model, statistically, the salesperson is winning less than 8% of opportunities sourced in the traditional approach.

Example of the new model: Instead, the re-shaped funnel suggests sales professionals take the time to seek qualified leads. A B2B salesperson is told they need 28 deals. Instead of going out to find a specified (likely impossible) number of leads, they are looking for a few qualified leads. This will require them to be prescriptive in the leads they choose, and spend adequate time on the front-end understanding their ideal buyer profile and buyer pains before engaging with them. Yes, this method takes more time per lead, but by being more strategic and dedicated in going after the right leads, their win rates will increase. This salesperson is building relationships and leveraging communities, continually looking for opportunities to win referrals—which lead to a 63% win-rate (Source: Sales Benchmark Index).

Which funnel would you rather work with?

Modern prospecting requires a reshaped revenue funnel.