How to Scale a Sales Funnel

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I often use software development analogies when describing sales funnels. This is because scaling sales funnels is similar to building software in many ways.
When scaling a software product, software architects commonly use the phrase, “Make it work; make it right; make it fast.”
Making it Work is building the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that meets the customer’s needs. During this phase, you learn what works and what doesn’t.
Making it Right is reducing any friction, inconsistencies, and errors introduced into the code while building the MVP.
Making it Fast is adding necessary performance improvements to scale the software out to the total user base.

Don’t skip Making it Right

A major mistake commonly made when launching a software product is going straight from Making it Work to Making it Scale — skipping Making it Right. It's a mistake to skip Making it Right because problems compound at scale. What would be a simple fix for a product with a few users will become a much more complex problem with many users.
Fixing a scaled product under load is like swapping the engine of a car while going down the freeway — conceivable, but practically impossible.
We have taken this approach to building the platform itself, but it also applies to you building your sales funnel.

Similarity to Sales

In terms of Sales Funnels, I have a similar mantra: Make it Sell; Make it Repeatable; Make it Scale.
Making it Sell is finding the minimum Product Market Fit (PMF) such that you can win at least a few sales in a consistent manner that matches your vision for the product.
Making it Repeatable is mitigating any friction in your sales process. You’ll need to zero in on the target market, discover channel and lead generation strategies that work for your product, and fully operationalize your delivery.
Making it Scale is adding more salespeople, lead generators, paid ads, and delivery team members to grow the lead flow and revenue.

Sales must be repeatable

What happens in a sales team when they skip making it repeatable is that sales performance goes down as more sales reps are added.
When the CEO begins selling their product, they are able to grow considerably. When they add their first salesperson, things may become a little chaotic, but they’re still growing. However as they start to scale out the team, problems come up. Hitting quota become feast or famine. The lead flow starts to become erratic. The delivery team is either overworked or under utilized. Won sales, revenue, and cash flow cannot be predicted.

You can’t just throw money at it

The reality is you cannot grow sales by simply throwing more salespeople at a non-repeatable sales process. As you try harder to brute force your way through sales, the slower everything becomes. Just like if you try to brute force your way to scaling a software product, it becomes slow and slower if you do not fix underlying bottlenecks.

Signs of a Non-Repeatable Sales Process

If any of the following are true. then your process is probably not fully repeatable and ready to scale by adding more resources:
  • The sales team claims that what they are selling is not being delivered correctly or on time, dissatisfying customers
  • The delivery team claims that the won deals being brought to them are not scoped correctly or that proper expectations are not being set
  • It takes more than a few months to ramp a new salesperson
  • You don’t know the precise Customer Acquisition Cost of every lead so that marketing can manage lead generation
  • You don’t have enough inbound leads to help a new salesperson ramp

Where are you at?

Assess where you’re at. Do you have Product Market Fit, or are you still figuring out how to sell your product? Making it Sell comes first.
Are your sales operations causing your team stress? If so, you need to work on Making it Repeatable.
Are you spending a lot on ads, but have nothing to show for it? If so, you might not be ready to Make it Scale.

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