Throw the sales funnel away

outsideinview.comLast week, David Edelman, the leader of McKinsey’s Digital Marketing Strategy, posted an article titled “The Funnel is Dead.” In this piece, he professes that the traditional sales funnel is dead, because it’s outdated.  He goes on to say that today’s consumer “takes a much more complex iterative path thru and beyond purchase” and proposes a new model for the consumer product decision journey (CPDJ).

Let’s take this concept to a B2B world. Is the traditional funnel still dead? Last year there was a debate whether the funnel was really more of a martini shaped glass. But, is that still a funnel of sorts?

Going back to Edelman’s elements of the CPDJ, they are the same as what would be used in a business decision:  consider, evaluate, buy, post-purchase and evaluate again. Whether you portray that model in a circular graph, a funnel or a martini glass, there is still a process that drives your buyers through the sales journey albeit a more complex portrait to paint than a simple funnel.

That process is less about the sales journey and more about how we respond to the journey. We need to insure that our messages area aligned to the steps in the journey. Are we communicating that particular (targeted) message at the right time? Are we working with our sales teams to better understand the stopping points in the journey and their needs at each step, or are we putting forth only what we believe is the right thing to say at the time? (Remember here, what we believe does not matter as much as what we are told by those who are actually in the process.)

Looking in from the outside, how we work with our sales team, regardless of whether it is called a funnel or a journey, whether it is for consumer or business markets, needs to be focused on what we communicate, when and how. It’s not about a shape.

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