Turning the Funnel into an Hourglass

In recent months, I’ve referenced the sales funnel as a way to track success in converting cold calls into closed business.  It looks like this:

The sales funnel, while tried-and-true, is fraught with inefficiency, often requiring a ratio of cold calls to closed deals of 20:1 or more to be successful.  The problem with this ratio is two-fold:  1)  You might not have enough prospects to support this ratio, and 2) a lot of your time is wasted on getting prospects into the hopper, only to find them fall out on their way down the funnel.

There are two reasonable fixes to this problem:  1) improve your ratio of closed business to cold calls, or 2) turn your funnel into an hourglass, which looks something like this:

As you might guess, I’m in favor of option 2.  Improving your close ratio has its merits, which I advocate in any case.  But once this fine-tuning is complete, you need to turn your focus on converting the funnel to an hourglass.  By doing so, you remove yourself as the bottleneck and increase your leverage.

Allow me to explain.  Suppose you have 2 existing customers who are reasonably happy with you, your product, and your company.  Now imagine that you spend all of your spare time converting these reasonably happy people into “super fans”, who would not only serve as a reference for you, but would go out of their way to solicit new customers on your behalf.  These super fans would be so pleased with your product that they would ask to speak at conferences, host a customer visit, blog about your product, tell their friends that they simply “have to take a look” at your solution.

Instead of burning up hours trying to convince strangers to hear your pitch, why not create super fans who will start the movement for you?


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One Response to “Turning the Funnel into an Hourglass”

  1. Seth Godin Says:

    Good stuff!

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