Do you know how to identify your company’s sales funnel?
New data from HubSpot reveals  that 68 percent of B2B sales organizations have not identified their sales funnel.
What is a sales funnel, you ask? That’s the process for narrowing, sorting, analyzing and following up with sales leads.
This percentage might sound surprising, but unfortunately it appears to be the truth based on what I’ve seen during my career of working with B2B sales teams.
Many companies simply chase after every sales lead or send every new sales lead to the sales team without doing anything to sort or evaluate their leads along the way.
Without a sales funnel, your sales team is flying blind. Having a sales funnel in place gives you the visibility and consistent process necessary to get the best results out of your sales leads, and it helps you measure your progress at each stage of the sales process.
Especially for complex B2B sales, a sales funnel is an absolute necessity to ensure that your company is taking a regimented, methodical, well-organized approach to building relationships with customers and closing more deals.
Here are a few reasons why you need a sales funnel now:
Sort and Rank Sales Leads
Having a sales funnel will help you create a consistent, organized process for evaluating, ranking, sorting and prioritizing your sales leads.
The process could be based on which leads are most likely to buy, which leads have the most urgent “pain points” that are driving them to make a purchase decision, and which leads require longer-term lead nurturing and follow-up before they are ready to buy.
Not all sales leads are created equal. Some people are going to be a great fit for what you sell and are going to be ready to start the sales process right away.
Others, however, are going to be a poor fit or are going to require a longer-term conversation to build trust and create a good business relationship.
Focus on the Right Sales Leads
Creating a sales funnel also gives you greater focus. It also allows you to devote time and resources to working with the right sales leads, instead of spreading yourself too thin chasing bad leads.
If you have a few preliminary steps in your sales funnel, such as “initial e-mail survey” or “initial phone screening,” or “request to do an online demo/presentation,” this gives you the chance to ask the customer to commit to a higher level of interaction.
Every step of the interaction and conversation along the way gives you the chance to learn more about your prospective customers, and figure out which customers are serious buyers, and which ones are not yet ready to commit.
Put a Longer-term Process in Place for Lead Nurturing
Especially in complex major account B2B sales, it often takes some time — six months to a year or more — before a new client is ready to sign a contract and close the deal.
This is why it’s especially important to have a sales funnel with multiple points of contact over time. You might need to keep “nurturing” your sales leads (by following up and having multiple conversations) over many months before they’re ready to buy.
By identifying your sales funnel, you can design a longer-term process to keep talking to your sales leads in an orderly, thoughtful, organized fashion, and keep getting your sales people in front of the customer to keep answering questions and building trust.
Having a sales funnel is crucially important for success in today’s competitive B2B sales industry. Whatever you sell, you’ll be able to sell more of it by using an organized sales funnel with multiple points of contact, building relationships along the way.
Oil Funnel  Photo via Shutterstock