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Revenue Disruption: Game-Changing Sales and Marketing Strategies to Accelerate Growth by Phil Fernandez

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Water May Flow Downhill, But Leads Don’t

The notion of a sales funnel has been around for decades. It provides a graphic and easily understood illustration of the sales cycle steps I discussed earlier in this chapter. As a result, the metaphor of a funnel has become ubiquitous among sales professionals. In it, each step or stage is a little smaller than the one before it, reflecting attrition—the idea that prospective buyers “fall out” as they progress through the sales process. Typically, sales funnels are shown flowing left to right or, more frequently, top to bottom so they look like real kitchen funnels. And illustrations of them often include a great big arrow that points toward the ultimate sale at the end.

Whenever I pour water through a funnel in my kitchen at home, it works just that way; water flows into the top and comes out the bottom. My funnel at home might as well have a big arrow painted on it. But here I’ll let you in on a little secret: Despite decades of experts drawing essentially the same diagram, it turns out that revenue funnels don’t really work that way. And this mismatch between the traditional sales funnel diagram and customers’ real world behavior is one of the greatest sources of waste and inefficiency in the revenue process today.

It’s easy to see why the funnel metaphor doesn’t really make sense when you consider the real world buying process. To paraphrase the bumper sticker: Stuff Happens. Buyers begin to engage in a process and start talking to ...

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