Sales funnel is the basic of your business. More healthy sales funnel results in more business possibility. Funnel rightly indicates how much business closure one should expect in coming sales cycle.

Sales funnel starts with sales manager. More lead one is approaching for, more business cases get active and gradually turned up into the funnel.

Good leads are very important to develop healthy funnel. There are multiple ways sales manager can get good leads generated. Few of them are as follows;

  1. Cold calling
  2. Tele calling
  3. Market referral
  4. Customer referral
  5. Effective use of linkedIn
  6. Effective use of other social media platforms
  7. New requirements in existing accounts

There are many but only guaranteed way to generate more number of leads is to approach more number of prospective customers, no matter whatever is the media for approach. And who are the prospective customers? Those who are using or availing same type of material or service from your competitors. Keep approaching more number of competitors list of customers and more leads will be generated for churn.

If this is the methodology manager adopt for, minimum customer education is required. Customer, though already using similar type of material or service, completely aware about the usability of it. Only thing now customer is interested in is, advantages and price benefits.    

Once manager get qualified lead, it has to nurture tactfully. With due course of time, if groomed properly leads progress in funnel case.

How to nurture and groom the qualified lead? First of all, do not rush for commercials or proposal. Try and understand the requirement in detail. Simultaneously share your company capability presentation with customer. Emphasize to present it to concerns if possible. Check requirement viability back in office with concern stake holders. Submit the detail proposal mentioning applicable terms and conditions. Once the proposal is submitted, manager always get into follow up with customer. If case is moving in good pace keep following. If it stuck with low response, try and arrange positioning call with customer. 

Funnel is something when you have proposal value with indicative closure date from customer. This is the base on which you factor business for that particular sales cycle.

From sales managers, then funnel accumulate to team leader. From team leader to division and likewise on upward hierarchy as per organization structure and size.

Sale is always of job of optimism. Validation of funnel at first level is most important. Sales manager should do that first level of validation on own.

How one can validate own funnel? As manager is submitting the proposal, one call to customer for acknowledgement is required. Manager should always confirm following few points with customer in that particular call;

  1. Is the pricing quoted is in the range of expectation?
  2. When customer will be likely to close this requirement?
  3. Who else, apart from first point of contact, are actively involved in the decision making process?
  4. When do we meet for next level of discussion and closure?

If manager is getting satisfactory answers to all these validating questions, then the case should be definitely in funnel. If the answers received are vague and not so specific, understand the case is premature and should not be part of active funnel for now.

If this level of validation has happened, sales manager will be presenting realistic funnel cases to team leader with appropriate funnel value.

Post this; team leader has to do funnel verification in the review and planning meeting for sure. Team leader need to deep dive in every single case of funnel to understand its fate.

Next level of verification should be done in internal sales meeting by firing some specific questions to manager. Few of those questions are as follows;

  1. Who is the existing vendor of customer?
  2. How many years of business association of customer with existing vendor?
  3. Why customer is looking to change vendor?
  4. Why would customer will come with us?
  5. In which phase case is currently in? Requirement analysis, proposal, negotiation, finalization?

Answers to these questions may help team leader to validate the funnel more appropriately.

But of course, team leader should not be stopping at this level of validation. Specific funnel cases depends on funnel value, customer’s industry segment, manager’s track record and maybe with some more appropriate criteria, team leader has to pick for positioning meeting.

Positioning meetings are always important. Customer get feel factor of company and its hierarchy. This definitely helps to improve conversion ratio of your funnel cases.

Validation perspective, depending on how the positioning meeting is getting scheduled and with whom, team leader can always make out fate of the funnel case.

All run rate cases are mostly limit to sales managers and the team leaders for validation. Upward hierarchy only get engaged if the case is big ticket or from important existing account which is from farming portfolio.

If expected date of closure for funnel case is getting extended three times then it is definitely cause of concern. One has to re-validate the case closely before adding in funnel for next time.

If expected date of closure is getting extended five times, remove the case from funnel. Manager really needs a solid reason with minimum 2 level of validation to keep the case in funnel for next time.

There is no thumb rule for funnel conversion ratio. It changes as per industry, city and states. Every company and industry in any particular region can refer to standard funnel conversion ratio pertaining to the region.       

Healthy funnel comprises of maximum run rate cases with average business value per case. More cases with average business value distribute and minimize the risk. Exceptional big ticket cases looks good but imbalance funnel and maximize the risk of failure.    

No matter what sales manager presents in the internal sales meeting, back of the mind manager always know which are the strong cases would be actually realizing. Team leader has to emphasis to deep dive on those particular cases of funnel…!!!