Moving Opportunities through the Funnel

07.22.2011salesfunnelIn sales and marketing, the focus should always be on the opportunity funnel. Unfortunately in many small businesses, there can be a disconnect between the sales and marketing department. Sales and marketing’s objectives are not always aligned and because of this, there can be two competing/contradicting funnels instead of one formidable funnel. The “sales funnel” is a way to describe the sales process, the unfortunate thing is that because “sales” is in the title, marketing does not think it is responsible for the funnel. If you asked many marketing folks what the sales funnel is referring to, there would be blank stares. It is advisable to term it the “opportunity funnel” to ensure both marketing and sales pay attention.

The funnel is an effective way to visualize the lead generation and nurturing process – the transition from marketing (lead generation) to lead nurturing (sales). The funnel of customer opportunities gets increasingly narrow as the number of inquiries are qualified and determined to be actual leads then even more qualified when they are deemed a prospect and finally, the most qualified prospects becoming customers.

As the number of opportunities become narrower because of lead qualification, the tactics become more targeted and measurable. Every organization’s funnel is different – have you created your own sales process funnel and received feedback and buy-in from both the sales and marketing department? What tactics are appropriate in each stage and which department is responsible? Documenting your sales funnel and making that a centerpiece of your sales and marketing process will help rally both departments around business development and client acquisition.