SiriusDecisions’ new Demand Unit Waterfall has got me thinking about funnels a lot.

I love funnels. I draw them all the time on cocktail napkins and whiteboards. I make stupid punny jokes about funnel stages. I’m a funnel guy. (See what I did there?)

But funnels can be misunderstood. Some people have even said the funnel is dead. There’s outright funnel hatin’ going on out there, People. I think that’s unfair.

It’s not the Funnel’s fault. Is the Funnel a perfect metaphor? Of course not. Does it have flaws? Of course it does. But let he without sin throw the first stone, ya know?

I think we owe the Funnel an apology. Here’s a starter template for your apology letter:

Apology Template


Dear Funnel:

We’ve had a love/hate relationship, haven’t we? When I first met you I thought you were the best thing ever. We used to go to coffee shops and just stare at one another. Late night talks. Dreamy weekends in Santa Fe. So in love…

But then things happened. Life intruded. We grew up. We grew apart even. I confess there have been times when I’ve looked askance at you, spoken ill of you, made fun of you, and even tried to flip you.

Let’s repair this relationship. I know we can. But first, I want to apologize for some of the bad things I’ve done over the course of our relationship:

  1. Funnel, I apologize for when I have confused your Revenue Process Stages with my Customer Journey Stages. That’s just stupid. They’re two totally different, but related, things. Remember that time when we treated everyone at the top of the Funnel as if they were at the beginning of their customer journey? Yeah, that was dumb.
  2. Sorry for pretending you only work in one direction: straight down toward Closed Won. You’re complex, Funnel. You have a lot going on and we should know better than to think that you work in a one-way, linear fashion. Sorry for thinking you were so simple.
  3. Funnel, I apologize for thinking you are gravity-fed. I’m sorry for inadvertently expecting leads, accounts and opportunities to just naturally engage and convert. They aren’t all inexorably drawn downward to Closed Won as if it’s a predetermined fate. You know human behavior is erratic at best. And so do I now.
  4. Sorry for always drawing you without a Post-Sale part of your body. I’ve ignored the best part of you, Funnel, and that’s unforgivable. You can Welcome, Onboard, Adopt, Retain, Cross Sell, Upsell, and even promote Advocacy. I’ve been so myopically focused on Acquisition. But Post-Sale might be your best side.
  5. Funnel, Sorry for making your stages choose a single owner among Marketing, Sales Development, Field Sales, or Customer Success. That wasn’t fair. We have to share your stages, and act like friends–not competitors. You invited us all into every stage. But we got jealous. Marketing kept screaming “Only I generate leads!” and Sales kept whining “Nobody can talk with my contacts once they’re in the sales pipeline!” It’s time for us to grow up and start trusting one another.
  6. Funnel, I apologize for only being interested in your leads. You had a much more complex and richer story to tell about accounts and buying teams the entire time, didn’t you? But I didn’t know how to ask the right questions. I didn’t know how to connect the dots. I promise to pay attention to accounts and buying teams from now on.

This was a hard conversation. It’s tough to be so vulnerable. Thanks for listening. Thanks for giving me another chance. You always wanted the best for me, I see that now. I’m going to try harder. Promise.

Love,

Your Revenue Partner



Are you hurting your Funnel’s feelings? Well, it might be time to make up. There’s no shame in asking for help. We’ve brought a lot of couples just like you two closer together. Reach out to the expert relationship counselors at Intelligent Demand.

Author John Common

More posts by John Common

John is Intelligent Demand’s founder, chief strategist and CEO. His energy and enthusiasm for transforming companies with modern approaches to marketing and sales is palpable. He’ll happily geek out with you during a 2-hour conversation about your customer journey. He’ll cover any whiteboard or tablecloth in sight with revenue growth strategies, messaging concepts, and program designs. But his primary passion is connecting those ideas to highly executable programs that deliver measurable results.

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