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Written by Lisa Shepherd
on June 17, 2015

Thanks to Robert Gold, who hosts PROFIT Magazine's BusinessCast for the amazing interview last week.  

You can get the 15-minute podcast here.  

And here's a brief summary of our conversation, including our discussion about the new structure of the sales funnel - which I liken to a pinball machine.  

Pinball_2

Is the Sales Funnel Dead?

Every salesperson knows the sales funnel. Prospects go in at the top, deals come out at the bottom. But as Robert and I discussed, that analogy for the sales process is no longer useful.  

Corporate Executive Board (CEB) found that on average, a buyer completes 57% of their decision process before contacting a selling company. This newly-informed buyer is one reason that we need a new way to look at the sales funnel. Most versions of the funnel start with awareness at the top, and then proceed through familiarity and consideration, until finally the prospective customer makes a decision. But I don't think that's accurate now.  I think a more realistic analogy for the sales process is a pinball machine. It isn't as neat and clean as the old funnel. And that's what sales feels like now.  

The availability of information about your company (and competitors) online makes it easier for a buyer to get relevant information about your offerings without having to pick up the phone and call.  That means they're less likely to proceed neatly from one stage of buying to another.  They're far more likely to 'bounce around' in your sales process, with some buyers moving very quickly from awareness to deal, and others taking months in exploratory conversations and due diligence.  The process is more like balls in a pinball machine, moving from paddle to gate to bumper - and sometimes up to the 'goal' line, and sometimes into the gutter.  

But the pinball analogy doesn't mean that companies don't have control over the sales process. Far from it.  It means that as a business owner or sales leader, you can control the 'bumpers' and the 'gates' of the sales process -and control how your prospects are handled during the sales process, and whether they'll reach the goal line or fall into the gutter.  

For more on the pinball sales analogy and Robert's insightful questions, listen to the podcast.  (turn your volume on).  

The Radical Sales Shift Special Report

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