What an efficient sales funnel can do for you [Analyst Report]

May 8, 2018 Andrew Hsieh

It’s pretty clear: when you make your sales funnel more efficient, then you make money more efficiently.

But the road to get there is easier said than done.

(Like everything else in sales and marketing.)

According to a new report by Aberdeen Group, “The Efficient Sales Funnel: Shorten the Path from Lead to Revenue,” only 49 percent of sales reps hit their targets in the average sales organization …

… but when those sales organizations are able to shorten their sales cycles, that number increases by 14 percent.

That’s just one direct correlation between efficient funnels and efficient sales reps.

Aberdeen Group also found lead acceptance rate increased by 34 percent with a shortened sales cycle, and even found opportunity win rates increased by 4.4 percent.

In this blog, we’ll go over a few more of the key takeaways from Aberdeen Group, and talk about what that means for you, your tech stack, and your strategy.

Get the Aberdeen Group’s Report

We’ll be going over some insights from Aberdeen Group’s new report, which finally puts numbers to those oft-discussed needs for sales and marketing alignment, process revision and more. It’s chock-full of the data you need to make your case for sales and marketing transformation.

Get it for free

Why your funnel is inefficient

Before we talk about solutions, let’s define the problem first. According to Aberdeen Group, the inefficient funnel is a problem in three parts: people, process and technology.

People

Of course, one clear issue could be the people you have at your organization. Not necessarily in terms of talent, but in terms of alignment.

You’ve heard it before: if sales and marketing don’t align on what makes a qualified lead (and what makes a qualified lead good), you’ve got poor communication on your hands.

That poor communication leads to a lack of shared information and confusion around goals and accountability.

And that confusion gives you an underperforming and inefficient funnel.

Process

Potentially, an inefficient funnel could also be caused by how your organization has designed that funnel.

The idea of a funnel is simple: leads go in, and like a water filter that turns bad water alchemy-like into drinkable water, it turns them into closed won opportunities.

But just like an expired filter, parts of that funnel could break. Whether it’s a flawed qualification process, obscured lead handoffs and distribution, or various manual moving parts, small inefficiencies can disrupt the flow of your funnel.

Technology

Finally, Aberdeen Group notes that CRM systems have long since replaced “sales management by spreadsheet,” but haven’t yet developed into sufficiently robust lead management and tracking systems.

(After all, they’re CRMs, not LRMs.)

Just as manual processes can interrupt the smooth flow of your funnel, manual research and management processes often take up an exorbitant amount of time.

In fact, our own State of Lead Management Report found that sales, on average, takes minutes a lead to research how to approach each one. Added up, that’s hours a day, and more a week.

That’s a lot of calls that could have been made instead.

So how does Aberdeen Group propose you approach these problems? Well …

Focus on cross-department analytics

To solve the people problem, and tackle the process issue at the same time, Aberdeen Group notes that organizations that have faster speed to revenue (i.e. shorter sales cycles) are also the organizations that focus on ongoing process improvement.

They’re the companies that create and share sales forecasts more regularly, and create guided selling and on-demand coaching processes.

And, not surprisingly, they’re a whopping 84 percent more likely to say they have complete or strong alignment with marketing.

How do you get there? Well, for one thing …

Automate to reduce human error

ABM is table stakes in B2B now. We know it, you know it … everyone knows it.

But the way people pursue account-based strategies is far from automated. As mentioned before, sales spends minutes a lead to research each lead.

And often, sales and marketing organizations rely on CRMs to do lead management and opportunity management—tasks CRMs were never designed to do, and which require hours of manual management to finagle.

That kind of manual labor introduces errors into the CRM, or a lack of attribution when fields aren’t properly tagged.

According to Aberdeen Group, successful organizations are 68 percent more likely to report that they can minimize human error and inefficiency through sharing analytics and leveraging automated technology.

Which brings us to our next point.

How to choose the right tech

There’s tons of marketing technology out there. How can you figure out which automated marketing technology should be your go-to?

For one thing, Aberdeen Group notes, you need to choose technology that is accessible and understandable by both sales and marketing.

In fact, successful companies are 34 percent more likely to use sales analytics for forecasting, and 28 percent more likely to use analytics for sales operations.

LeanData embraces that philosophy. For example, our routing product is a visual lead flowbuilder, which allows anyone from sales or marketing to understand where each lead is going in your routing flow.

At the same time, LeanData’s automated matching matches leads to accounts and grabs related leads, contacts and accounts, surfacing them all on the same page in Salesforce.

That lets sales spend less time researching or re-qualifying leads, and more time making calls, knowing that the data is solid in Salesforce. For its part, marketing gets to run more sophisticated campaigns, trusting marketing automation to do its work.

Shorter sales cycle = better alignment

Aiming for a shorter sales cycle may seem self-explanatory, but Aberdeen Group throws more fuel to the fire, showing that companies that have a shorter sales cycle are also the companies who have higher-quality leads and have better alignment.

That expresses itself in higher lead acceptance rates, higher achievement of sales goals, and more sales reps hitting their quotas.

Get your leads to the right reps

Part of that could be, as we’ve mentioned, better sales training and a focus on better analytics. But another could be something a little more clear: getting the leads to the reps that will nurture them the best.

In other words: smart, hopefully automated, routing.

LeanData believes leads should always go to the sales rep who has the best chance of making the deal—so our routing product is built to pivot on a dime, letting any sales, marketing or revenue ops staff change routing based on business needs.

And with our routing analytics product, LeanData provides ongoing reporting and tracking that helps organizations see which leads are going to which reps in real time.

That allows for on-the-fly error correction and plenty of peace of mind.

Having that information on hand

Everyone wants to increase visibility into sales and marketing processes.

But it can be tough to get started, especially from the bottom.

In its report, Aberdeen Group provides a great list of questions that you should answer to have a satisfactory baseline for sales ops analytics:

  1. Where do most Marketing-Qualified Leads (MQLs) go?
  2. Are leads, contacts, accounts and operations being distributed strategically among sales reps based on accurate data about both the prospect and the rep?
  3. Are leads stuck somewhere they shouldn’t be?
  4. How many leads are useless, unqualified or duplicates?
  5. How many different types of leads are being acquired? (e.g. net new logo leads, growth leads from current customers, leads from existing opportunities, etc.)

Track and measure each of these KPIs and make sure you have the right technology to do it. After all, with more analytics, you can act more readily … and taking action will lead you to revenue.

Conclusion

At LeanData, we’re all about innovating on the B2B buying process, so you get to revenue faster. Aberdeen Group’s new report validates that mission, showing how important it is for sales and marketing to sync on technology, strategy and beyond with quantifiable statistics.

When you’ve got an efficient funnel, whether it’s through automating your tech stack, reviewing your processes, or increasing sales and marketing visibility, you go to revenue faster.

Thanks to Aberdeen Group, we know that for a fact.

You can get the report here.

P.S. Want to get a head start at making your funnel more efficient? Check out LeanData View for free—it’ll give you matched accounts, related leads and contacts and more all in one Salesforce view. It’s the easiest way to make sure your database is in tip-top shape … and to shorten your sales cycle. Get it now.

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