How does a sales funnel work?

The concept of the sales funnel has been around for a long time. A funnel is easy to visualize. In sales, the concept is you put a lot of leads in the top and the sales come out the bottom. However, the sales funnel is really just a process, and before you have one for sales, you must have one for marketing.

The biggest mistake most companies make managing the sales funnel process is they ask the sales department to take a potential customer from zero to one hundred. But the first two-thirds of the journey should be the responsibility of the marketing department, not the sales department.

A well-run company will have a robust marketing department working side by side with the sales department. The marketers are responsible for generating leads and keeping the lead pipeline full. This includes prospecting, initial contacts, sending out samples and brochures, and creating sales profiles in the sales database. When a prospect indicates a willingness to buy, the marketing department then hands them over to the appropriate person in sales.

Salespeople are good at making presentations and getting orders. It is a waste of their time – and the company’s resources – to have them spend time prospecting for leads. So the biggest mistake is involving the sales person too early in the process of converting a prospect into a customer.

Barney Cohen

President, Business 360 Northwest


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