There are no funnels anymore.
I think it’s time to put the traditional sales funnel paradigm into the same category as pagers, fax machines, and videotape—tools that have traveled from inspirational to indispensable to mostly irrelevant. I say “mostly” because, like anything, there are still some businesses with extremely long sales cycles for which the funnel paradigm makes sense. Some hospitals still use pagers. Some insurance agents still submit applications for coverage via fax. And—well, sorry, I can’t think of any industry that needs videotape. So why lump the venerable sales funnel into that family? Simply put, it implies a certain linearity of decision-making and extended consideration behaviors that are no longer consistent with the instant gratification environment in which most customer relationships are created.
Customers have a need—they aren’t looking to build a relationship.
A funny thing happens when consumers have what effectively amounts to an infinite number of suppliers to choose from. Competition becomes infinite. Information arrives instantaneously. Pricing becomes transparent. And every “thing” becomes a commodity. For most sellers, the idea of nurturing a prospect through an imposed knowledge or awareness funnel of any kind is laughable. The idea of a sales funnel implies connections created and strengthened over time, but today, there are often only seconds between search and purchase, not days or weeks.