The Forgotten Middle: Why and how optimizing the middle of your sales funnel matters
In the race to achieve the mythic Optimized Sales Funnel, there are generally two schools of thought. Those who favor the top of the funnel and those who believe the bottom is king. And you know what? They’re both wrong.
Because the true path to an optimized sales funnel? That lies in the oft-ignored middle. Before you accuse us of sacrilege, just hear us out.
Why it’s not always better on top
Those who favor the top of sales funnel view this as a simple numbers game. The more people you have coming into the pipeline, the more people who will make it to the end. “It’s science! It’s the law of averages!” they tout.
It all seems very logical. But here’s the problem. It’s not.
Because it’s either very expensive or very time consuming—and likely both—to get all those people in your sales funnel. Paid advertising, A/B testing and expensive tools to help with content marketing all generate activity, but not a lot of results. And outbound efforts from your sales team at the top of the funnel can monopolize their time and steal their attention from more worthwhile efforts.
How you can get buried at the bottom.
Team Bottom is generally of the belief that focusing your attention on a smaller group of people at the bottom of the sales funnel will yield the greatest payoff. They reason that if you can carefully curate a more select group at the bottom, those people are more likely to convert.
Here, again, the problem has to do with costs. Take a typical “close the deal” meeting. There’s travel to and from. There’s wining and dining. Maybe a thank you gift. And that doesn’t even count the high salary of a senior salesperson trying to close the deal.
That’s costly and risky. Two things that don’t pair well together. So if you’re going to go through all that time and expense, you better be absolutely sure the deal is going to close. And just because someone wants to meet for drinks and food doesn’t mean they’re a strong lead. It means they want a free meal. But don’t let that hurt your feelings.
Meeting in the middle.
So, if the top and bottom of the funnel are too costly, time-consuming, and risky, where do you go? The answer, it seems, lies in the oft-forgotten and much-maligned middle.
Like every middle child can tell you, the middle is often overlooked. We’re here to tell you, also, much like every middle child, that’s a big mistake that will have detrimental side effects later.
Because when the middle of your sales funnel is optimized, several things are possible.
First, you don’t need as many leads to enter at the top. Maybe your sales reps are currently calling on 100 people a week. Now you can reduce that number to 20. That saves money, time, resources, and sanity for everyone involved.
Second, you increase the likelihood that everyone who shows up at the bottom of the funnel is going to close. Now you can justify those grand gestures and high expenses because you’re pretty damn certain they’re going to work. How? Because you’ve optimized the touch-points throughout the customer journey and nurtured them along. They’ve come to see you as a trusted resource and will engage with you when they’re ready to move forward.
Maybe they’ll be so excited they’ll even buy you one of those fancy dinners. Probably not. But maybe.
Interested in how you can optimize the middle of your sales funnel and find your competitive advantage? Just get in touch.