How to Fix Your Leaky Sales Funnel and Win at Every Stage

GTM Buddy
May 10, 2024
Table of Contents

Reaching revenue targets has been an elusive goal for many businesses this past year. Sales reps are struggling to hit quota in today’s tough economic climate. But is this challenge all external? Or can something be done to improve win rates? We believe it's the latter.

In the high-stakes arena of sales, achieving success often hinges on mastering nuanced strategies at each step of the sales process that can make or break a deal. Failure to do so results in what we call ‘a leaky sales funnel.’

A recent webinar conducted by Pavilion and GTM Buddy saw top revenue leaders – Dini Mehta (ex-Lattice), Mark Kosoglow (ex-Catalyst, Outreach), and Ron Baden (ex-HighRadius, Planful) – shed light on the challenge of a leaky sales funnel and what can be done to enhance their sales effectiveness. The session was moderated by Sam Jacobs, the CEO of Pavilion.

This blog post distills critical themes from that discussion, emphasizing actionable strategies to help sales teams convert prospects into loyal customers with a micro-focused approach.

1. Quality Over Quantity in Pipeline

One of the primary challenges in sales is ensuring the quality of the pipeline. Dini Mehta, a seasoned revenue leader who helped increase the valuation of Lattice by 75x, highlighted that many organizations struggle with defining what qualifies as a 'quality' opportunity. This ambiguity can lead to a pipeline bloated with prospects that have a low likelihood of conversion. 

Standardizing entry and exit criteria for sales stages is crucial. As companies scale, these criteria must evolve to reflect the changing dynamics of the business and market.

2. Data Integrity and Impact on Sales

Another significant challenge is maintaining the integrity of sales data. Bad data can skew analytics, leading to misinformed strategies that potentially waste resources and miss targets. Reliable data is the backbone of effective sales strategies, especially as businesses grow and the complexity of sales operations increases. 

Ensuring data accuracy helps diagnose and address leaks in the sales funnel efficiently. Mark Kosoglow adds, “When the process isn't managed well, you get reps who are off doing their own thing, and therefore, the data is meaningless.” 

3. Streamlining the Sales Process

The number of stages in a sales process can significantly affect conversion rates. Dini Mehta advocates for simplicity, suggesting no more than six stages, regardless of the deal size. Each stage should have clear, objective, and transferable entry and exit criteria to prevent confusion and ensure consistency across the sales team.

Mark agrees with Dini. “There should be two exit criteria per stage. Any more than that is like craziness,” he adds. However, he doesn’t feel the need for a separate entry criteria, as the exit criteria of the previous stage becomes the entry criteria for the next stage.

4. Enhancing Sales Enablement

Sales enablement cannot be on the sidelines and then expect recognition. A reactive approach to sales enablement may put the function in a vulnerable position. We saw proof of this during last year’s economic downturn and continue to see it today.

Mark Kosoglow's approach to sales enablement emphasizes a strategic alignment with core business goals. He proposes a structured framework where enablement activities are scored and prioritized based on their cognitive load and the desired level of mastery. This method ensures that sales teams are not overwhelmed and can focus on mastering key competencies that directly impact sales effectiveness.

Below, you can see the framework Mark built in collaboration with Whitney Sieck. (here’s the link to the original post)

5. Tackling Funnel Leakage with Precision

Addressing leaks in the sales funnel requires a meticulous approach to stage management and a deep understanding of where and why losses occur. Both Ron Baden and Mark Kosoglow emphasize the importance of having a rigorous process for managing stages and diagnosing issues within the funnel. 

Ron highlights the importance of having a rubric. He says, “You need something to go back and look at to know why your reps are getting stuck at a specific stage.” This involves a detailed analysis of each stage to identify specific bottlenecks and applying targeted interventions to address these issues.

6. Operationalizing Sales Training

Ongoing training is critical for maintaining a high-performing sales team. However, Dini points out that it's not just about conducting training sessions but integrating them into the daily workflows of the sales team. Effective training should be an ongoing process that builds on previous learnings and is reinforced through regular practice and application.

Mark advises against overdoing training. Instead, he recommends setting the right expectations with your executives and spacing out trainings based on their cognitive load. He says, “No human on the planet that could learn five mastery level things in a single quarter and be expected to be proficient in all of them. Instead do one a quarter.”

7. Leveraging Technology for Real-time Enablement

Technology plays a pivotal role in modern sales strategies. Tools like GTM Buddy can provide real-time enablement, offering guidance and insights directly during sales interactions. This immediate support helps sales representatives adapt and respond more effectively during critical moments in the sales process.

The key to sales success

Unlocking sales success in today's competitive market requires a blend of strategic foresight, rigorous process management, and continuous improvement. Businesses can significantly improve their sales outcomes by focusing on quality pipeline development, simplifying the sales process, and effectively managing funnel leaks. These strategies not only help in converting the pipeline more effectively but also in building a resilient and adaptable sales operation capable of meeting the challenges of a dynamic market environment.

Ron uses a football analogy to illustrate how to think about it. He says, “Nobody says I'm going to try to win the game. They say, I'm going to try to win a quarter. And what do they try to do in winning the quarter? They try to win a drive. And what do they try to do in winning a drive? They win first down. That's how people think about it in footbal. And that's the way that we need to think about it as revenue leaders as well.” 

(You can watch the full podcast here.)

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