The Illusion of the Gradually Increasing Funnel
Recently I was in Chicago with a client’s sales vice president training him on how to do Funnel Audits (funnel inspections).
Part of the training included doing actual Audits of several of his salespeople.
One of the salespeople commented that early in the year his funnel was always ‘light’ but got bigger as the year progressed. He wasn’t saying that the funnel got bigger due to a concerted effort early on to grow it; rather, he was saying it just sort of works out that way and therefore he shouldn’t be concerned about a small funnel value early in the year.
I asked how this funnel growth ‘sort of’ happens and he said that opportunities just had a way of coming to him.
Any sales managers nervous yet?
I acknowledged that for many established territories opportunities can appear seemingly out of nowhere over the course of a year. Call it luck, or the result of brand equity or reputation in the market. I agree it happens.
So I asked the rhetorical question: though opportunities sort of have a way of finding you throughout the year you aren’t actually saying that’s your funnel growth strategy are you?
For one, can you predictably say how many surprise opportunities will find you throughout the year? Can you predict the dollar or euro value of these surprise opportunities? Can you predict that they’ll appear early enough for you to win them and impact this year’s quota?
Here’s a way to talk this through with your salespeople as you round the corner toward another year soon. The function of a Funnel Audit is to help you manage the funnel you have, not the funnel you think you’ll have.
You can’t bet your success on things that are out of your control regardless of the historical trend or track record. Consider the surprises pleasant and say a silent prayer of thanks. But use a Funnel Audit to take your own destiny into your own hands.