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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistThu, Sep 15, 2016 10 min read

Is Your Sales Pipeline Constipated?

Full Funnel Analysis Is The ONLY Way To Find Out For Sure

Inbound Sales Funnel You’re looking for revenue growth, we get it. Most business leaders equate revenue growth with a need to generate more leads for your sales team to attack. But did you know that revenue growth can come from all stages of your current sales funnel? You don’t necessarily need more leads to drive up revenue.

You might have a jammed-up sales funnel. It’s possible that it's clogged up with potential customers who are not flowing through to the bottom. Instead of needing new leads, which would just join the backup in your funnel, it might be better to try and move those qualified prospects through the funnel and out — either as sales opportunities or unqualified leads. Inbound marketing can help.

Either way, your funnel will feel a lot better, and if you keep it clear it will be a lot easier to hit your revenue goals going forward.

Here’s how to clear out the backup in your sales funnel.

Step 1 – You Need A 'Funneloscopy'

All kidding aside, you won’t really know if you have a challenge with this unless you evaluate your entire funnel, top to bottom. A complete and thorough funnel analysis will help identify your conversion rate from website visitors all the way to closed new customers and all the stages in between.

What you’re looking for are major drop-offs in conversion rates. For example, you have an issue if 3% of all your website visitors turn into marketing-qualified leads, 10% of those turn into sales-qualified leads and 50% of those turn into sales opportunities, but only 5% of those go to proposals. Between 50% and 80% of sales opportunities should be moving forward and asking for paperwork.

This drop-off in conversion rates might be found at any stage of your funnel. It’s likely that you will find something in your funnel worth fixing. Keep in mind that even modest improvements to each of the conversion points will contribute significantly to your revenue growth goals. After you identify and prioritize the weakest spot in your funnel, you need to get prepared to take action.

Step 2 – Evaluate The Leads In Your Funnel

salesfunnel.jpgAfter the evaluation, the first move is to clear the blockage. The best way to do this is to evaluate all the leads stuck in this stage of your funnel. For example, going back to our story from above, if you have a lot of potential sales opportunities who have not asked for your agreements or proposals, you need to evaluate how many of these are actually qualified. They might not be as qualified as you thought.

Consider breaking the group into two groups: qualified and not qualified. Next, you can plan communication and outreach to all the qualified leads in an attempt to reengage with them and identify where you went off the rails in your sales process. The unqualified leads need communication, too. However, the goal there is to get them OUT of the sales funnel.

Step 3 – Build Lead Nurturing Campaigns For Your Existing Leads

Generally, I like shorter lead nurturing campaigns. In this case, I recommend a series of three emails for the leads who you’ve identified as qualified. Keep it simple. Your goal is to get them back into an active sales process with your sales team. Start with a reminder email, including a link that allows the person to contact you directly AND a link that gives them access to new content you haven’t published previously. This is going to make them feel special and start rebuilding the experience component of your sales process.

Follow up with an email three days later that offers this group of people a compelling bottom-of-the-funnel offer, such as a personal assessment, a review of their current state or some ideas on how to improve in the areas your company specializes in. Be sure to offer them something of value.

Finally, send another email three days later, and let them know this will be your last email. Ask for feedback on the process, give them your personal email address and remind them of the special offers included in the previous emails. Remember, not everyone reads everything you send.

Here’s one more creative approach to this. In your email, include three reasons why they might not be interested in connecting. Give these three reasons as links in the email, with the links sending people to three separate landing pages that answer or respond to their continued challenges with connecting to your company. This is going to give you incredible insight into your messaging, while making it easy for prospects to give you feedback.

After this email, anyone who has not reconnected or has requested to be moved out of the sales process should be moved to an archived list and removed from your current marketing efforts.

Step 4 – Build Lead Nurturing Campaigns For New Leads

inbound-marketing-leads-crave-nurturing-2.jpgNow that you have a plan to flush your pipeline and get it flowing again, you have to keep it flowing. The best way to do that is with active lead nurturing best practices. This is usually part of any standard inbound marketing program, but to ensure you don’t end up with a clogged pipeline again, invest time and money in creating compelling lead nurturing.

You can take some of the examples discussed above and apply them here, too. Keep these simple and keep these short. I've seen some client campaigns that are 12 to 15 emails long and, honestly, that’s just too long. If a prospect does not reply after three to six emails, they’re never responding, and you're only going to annoy them with the rest of that nurturing campaign. It's better to leave them disengaged but feeling good about your business than annoyed that you keep emailing them.

BONUS Step 5 – Create More Compelling Bottom-Of-The-Funnel Leads

There’s a consistent condition across companies that end up with bloated sales funnels. Typically they have weak bottom-of-the-funnel offers. "Contact us," "speak with a sales rep," "take our demo" and "download our free trial" are all generally low-performing bottom-of-the-funnel offers. I’m in no way suggesting that you not offer a demo or free trial. However, I am suggesting that you add more creative bottom-of-the-funnel offers to improve your conversion rates where you want high conversion rates.

Better bottom-of-the-funnel offers include anything that adds value. "Take our demo" is about you, not about them. Here are a few examples:

  • Research shows that the more you blog, the more leads you get. Get 13 blog improvement ideas in just 30 minutes.
  • The probability that a hacker has already penetrated your network is 90%. Get an assessment of your network to find out if you’ve been breached.
  • Safety is a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week job. Have our safety engineers evaluate your safety railing system to ensure your people are safe.

All of these bottom-of-the-funnel examples create value for the prospect, get them interested in speaking to your team and provide a sales rep with an opportunity to start a sales process based a trusted advisor relationship. You’re NOT selling, you’re helping. Don’t take my word on any of this; test it with your website and see for yourself.

Square 2 Marketing – Inbound Results Start With ME!


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.