Sales Funnel vs. Sales Process

“Sales Process” most often refers to the repeatable set of steps your sales team takes with a prospect to move them from an early stage to a closed sale. Many of the articles I have read on this topic refer to the Sales Funnel and the Sales Process as the same thing. However, my view of the two is somewhat different.

From my vantage point, you should have a clearly defined Sales Process for prospects and existing clients. Why? Because the sequence of events, hand-offs, deliverables and timeframes may be different for prospects vs. clients. These key differences should be understood by you and your sales team in moving prospects to clients, staying in-touch and building those long-term business relationships.

The “Sales Funnel” on the other hand, reflects all of the active sales projects that result from the various interactions with both prospects and clients.

Our BLF ELITE Mastermind group has been working on the areas of Sales Process and Funnel Management for the past two months. And I want to share some thoughts with you from our work in the hope that it will help you build more effective sales processes for your business.

Sales Funnel … Is opportunity driven. The Sales Funnel provides a visual snap shot of all of the active sales opportunities that you are working on, and their various stages of completion from warm lead to Customer Acceptance. It is also the virtual “lifeline” for your business to both new and existing customers in driving sales revenues.

Building and managing the Sales Funnel (Pipeline) is fairly straight-forward and should be part of the budget and planning process for every business. However, far too many small business owners today know very little about where their new business revenues will come from next week, month, quarter and so forth. This is where a detailed Sales Funnel, and rigorous auditing of the sales activity associated with it, can be of benefit.

A well-defined Sales Funnel should enable you to more accurately forecast how much revenue will be generated on a weekly, monthly, quarterly basis from your selling efforts. You can then compare the actual results to the sales forecast to get a more accurate view of your business’s sales performance for any given period. The Sales Funnel can also be an effective tool to help you determine the ‘average time to sale’ in moving an opportunity from a warm lead to closed sale.

Is your business set-up to manage the customer relationship from first order through the various life-cycle phases of a profitable long-term business relationship today?  

Sales Process … Is relationship oriented. From my perspective, it reflects the longer view and encompasses the pre-defined activities (touches), timeframes, milestone events and steps that are important in developing and nurturing customer relationships over the lifetime of those relationships.

The Sales Process should define the content, deliverables, products or services and the designated marketing activities in place to refresh those profitable customer relationships, and ensure your valued customers continue to buy from you. As mentioned earlier, the Sales Process is different for prospects and for each classification of customers. Why? Because how you address the various customer segments through your marketing and nurturing activities should reflect their distinctive buying habits and preferences.

Having well-defined sales processes in place for acquiring new customers, as well as protecting and growing those profitable business relationships over time is essential to success. Now, in order to develop those long-term relationships with clients (as well as suppliers and partners) so that you have that kind of longevity, some form of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is required. Customer relationship management is an approach to managing the interactions with current and future customers. And your formalized Sales Process will be instrumental in tying all the puzzle pieces together.

I know working through the intellectual part of developing your Sales Process can seem overly complicated, particularly when it comes to all of the different verbiage – i.e. Sales Funnel, Sale Process, Sales Pipeline, etc. Hopefully, the distinctions between Sales Funnel and Sales Process that I provided was helpful. If I can be of further assistance, please contact me.

Good luck and good selling!



COPYRIGHT © 2017 John Carroll