I have my preferences in sales funnels. I prefer the model we’ve built for Unified Funnel Metrics for the simple reason that it’s simple. (Not easy, but simple.) In our model, we track two data points for each of the seven stages. Three pre-sales stages, sales itself and three post-sale stages. It’s a horizontal model, adapted here and there from the bow-tie model. This method puts all sales points on the table, allowing us to do proper analysis and make good business recommendations without going into rabbit holes of data. If you’re Wal-Mart or Amazon you need an army of analysts and a tech stack a mile high to measure thousands of segments in real time. If you’re a business under $300 Million in revenue, you don’t. In fact, you need the opposite. The data will eat you up. You need more time acting on good data and less time dwelling on it. We build UFM for the latter.
That said, you probably have your own sales funnel tool. If not, I suspect you’re giving it some serious thought by virtue of reading Funnel magazine and my story in it.
Whichever way you approach your sales funnel you need to know that there is a massive blind spot in all sales funnel.
It’s called change.
Sales funnels done right are full of insights, a-ha moments, opportunities and some pretty clear direction on what business decisions need to be made.
Consider the sales funnel shown here. This is our UFM funnel in action. Given the metrics shown, the business decision is flashing 20,000 watts of neon green.
The decision is right there. This client is under-investing in existing customers to their own demise. The decision is simple: pull some resources from pre-sales, move them into post sales and reap the rewards. Simple.
Yet even before making our recommendation we could hear the resistance. Fortunately, we’re used to it and prepare for it as part of our work. In order for this article to be useful to you, here are five incredibly common objections we hear in our sales funnel work for customers. Next to each is the emotional stage each represents.
- I see the data. But I don’t buy it. (Denial)
- We can’t fire him. He’s been here 20 years. (Avoidance of conflict)
- We’ve never done it that way before. (Hope things go back to “Normal”)
- We don’t do it that way. (Fear of the unknown)
- Get out of my office. (Your data is a threat to my job)
Notice anything? These are human emotions. Not math. These are real feelings sprung loose from a mathematical approach to sales. If you think good data and insight is going to sell itself, prepare to be disappointed. (Or kicked out of an office.)
So, what’s the lesson here? In a macro-sense, this tells us that the strongest dimensions of sales don’t reside in the metrics. They reside in very real human emotions. By now you may be asking yourself how to deal with those in your sales funnel. After all, merely recognizing them doesn’t move the needle now, does it? After all, emotions are so much harder to deal with than numbers. Still, they have to be dealt with otherwise no sales progress can be made. Well, that’s an article for another day. Take heart, I won’t leave you completely unarmed. When your sales funnel math backs leadership into a corner, recognize it quickly and take a break. Then use a tool you need no instruction to master: Empathy.
Listen to the emotions. Hear them. Pull them out and work on a solution. Without empathy, you’ll never get your sales funnel to create the change it worked so desperately to uncover.
Next story: “How to deal with data denial.”
Founder of Unified Funnel Metrics John Arms is Co-Founder of Unified Funnel Metrics. John created UFM with business author Jason Voiovich. The duo created UFM in 2017 as a sales and marketing operating system that small B2B companies can use to control sales and marketing costs. John has a 30 year career in sales and marketing. In 2017 John sold his advertising agency Wingnut to allow him time to pursue the science of sales funnels full time.