Do You Suffer from Funnel Blindness?
Funnel blindness is a phenomenon that affects many salespeople and their employers. As the name implies, once opportunities go into the funnel, they are to some degree hidden from the view of management as well as the salesperson. Opportunities that go into the funnel prematurely are the most significant contributors to this problem.
In other words, the opportunity shouldn’t be in the funnel in the first place.
Make sure that you have a set of qualifying rules in place to determine whether or not you should pursue a specific opportunity. There are some questions that should be asked and answered positively, prior to allowing an opportunity to go into your funnel. The questions are:
- Is this opportunity worth winning? Frequently, we pursue opportunities because we have no other opportunities to pursue. These opportunities may not be worth winning. The gross profit produced by the opportunity may not exceed the cost to get the opportunity.
- What assistance, if any, is needed to close this deal? Keep in mind the concept of R.O.E. (Return On Effort). If you establish a value for every hour that you work, you may find that there are some opportunities which you pursue that are not worthy of your time. Don’t invest more time and energy in an opportunity than that which will reward you appropriately.
- How do we stack up versus the competition? If you don’t know your status versus the competitors, you may spend a lot of time pursuing a deal that will not close. Furthermore, do you know whether or not there is any competition?
- What problems will my solution resolve? If you can’t answer this question, the opportunity should not be placed into the funnel.
- If I can solve a problem, what value does the solution have from the prospect’s point of view? There are a lot of problems that can be solved by a lot of different solutions. But, if the resolution of a problem isn’t valuable from the prospect’s point of view, then you will linger in the wilderness of opportunities that never close but also never say “no”.
- What’s the timing? Has your prospect provided you with a timetable for the implementation of your solution? If not, you should slow down, go back to the beginning of your sales cycle, and re-qualify the opportunity.
- Are you talking to the people who have the authority to spend money and effect change? In all companies, there are people who will take time to talk to you but who do not have the authority to create budgets and/or effect change. Placing these opportunities into your funnel will cause you to lose a significant amount of time.
Make sure you don’t allow yourself to perpetuate the phenomenon of funnel blindness.
Looking at every opportunity through the rules mentioned above will help you avoid this phenomenon. If you are a manager and your team is placing opportunities in the funnel which don’t close in the appropriate timetables, then you should redefine your rules of qualification and make sure, based on your one-on-one conversations, that every opportunity in the funnel meets or exceeds your minimum standards.
This discipline will improve the effectiveness as well as the efficiency of your sales and marketing efforts. It will put more money on your top and bottom lines.
And, most importantly, it will give you and your sales team the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you’re working on qualified opportunities that have a high probability of closing, as opposed to working on opportunities that you hope will close.