Funnel Fatigue

We pride ourselves on our sales funnels, how many qualified leads, how many opportunities, how many demos have been scheduled, and ultimately how many closed-won deals come through the pipes. Lead Gen, Marketing Automation, and Sales Engagement tools are all coming up with new and innovative ways to help generate more and more inbound leads for you and your company, helping your pipeline swell in what most would assume is a best-case scenario for sales teams everywhere, more, more, more. So if all these new leads are such a win for companies and sales teams then why according to SBI, are sales revenue per sales head down 4.8% over the last three fiscal years? We have more leads, more potential and yet on average, we are less productive than we were three years ago with fewer leads and lesser potential in our pipeline. Perhaps we have gotten to the point where we are getting to a saturation point, and all of these leads are causing funnel fatigue.

If we examine the same three year period, the average number of sales heads per organization is up. So if we are hiring more sales reps and generating more leads then why is revenue per head down? There are two points of friction that these massive increases in both lead gen and sales personnel that we can look to address to help get our revenue and sales productivity numbers back up.

As we add more people and generate more leads the ability for sales reps to qualify and nurture the highest quality leads is becoming an ever-increasing challenge for most organizations. According to a recent HubSpot research survey Nurturing/Closing (36%) and Qualifying (22%) are 2 of the top 3 most challenging parts of the sales process according to top sales professionals. Your sales team is constantly inundated with so many new leads that the ability to distinguish the qualified from unqualified is becoming a much more challenging proposition. Combine that with the increasing number of sales team members which puts a strain on the already congested information feedback loop, and it becomes clear that new tools are needed to help provide automated and personalized insights to help your sales team manage their pipeline and streamline the information feedback process.

Another issue arises from performance targets and sales quotas. Too often salespeople find themselves rushing at the end of a month, quarter or year end date and they go into their sales funnel and force leads through the system to hit those performance targets. The problem is those performance targets were set months if not a year ago based on historical data and didn’t take current trends and the state of your funnel into account. The result is a rushed and forced sales engagement process that ultimately might get enough leads to close in time to hit that short-term specific goal. This forced sales approach has a long-term detrimental effect, due to either over engagement or lack of proper attention, other leads may fatigue, and the overall health of your funnel erodes, resulting in a pipeline that is not conducive for future sales success.

Our goal as companies should be to help fight this shortsighted behavior and work to create a healthy sales pipeline and sales engagement pattern that delivers consistent results month after month, quarter after quarter, and year after year. Not hitting performance targets by sheer force of will, but because we know that we have healthy, high-quality leads that will move through our pipeline efficiently. Jason Fried, CEO & founder of Basecamp, said, “You have the most information when you’re doing something, not before you’ve done it. Yet when do you write a plan?”. Instead of forecasts, targets and preset sales engagement strategies, which drive shortsighted behavior that is designed only to hit shortsighted goals, we should instead focus on creating healthy long-term habits such as building high-quality sales pipelines and maximizing opportunity costs through focused sales engagement. We believe that this approach will not only help fight funnel fatigue but set your entire organization up for long-term sales success.

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