Most sales teams spend the majority of their time worrying about leakage and conversion at the bottom of their funnel. And that’s perfectly acceptable, of course. The more of your active opportunities you close, the more successfully you’ll be able to meet and exceed this month or quarter’s goals.
But the real problem for most organizations isn’t the bottom of the funnel but the top. And I’m not talking about generating new leads.
The vast majority of prospects you speak with aren’t active opportunities, and aren’t even short-term leads. They’re in the “qualified but not ready to buy” category. Some studies show that this prospect group can be 4-5 times as large as those that are both qualified and ready to buy.
So if you’re cherry-picking the short-term sales opportunities and ignoring the long-term prospects, the volume and value of opportunities down the road that won’t be in your future opportunity pipeline is extremely high.
This isn’t a sales problem. It’s a marketing problem. Qualified but not ready to buy prospects shouldn’t talk to sales because they’re not ready for sales (and might even be turned off if they’re passed to sales too early). Those top-of-funnel prospects need to be nurtured, educated and watched until they exhibit signs of readiness.
This can be done in a number of ways, but it’s one of the most direct ways that marketing can impact sales and revenue performance for the organization in future months and quarters. And every bit of that can be tracked and attributed back to the nurture efforts.
Your funnel is going to leak. It’s why we call it a sales funnel, not a cylinder. Just don’t let it become a sieve.