How your sales funnel can predict the success (or failure) of your business

A sales funnel is a roadmap of the relationship you have with your contacts, and the journey the two of you take from Audience to Evangelist. But a sales funnel isn’t JUST a roadmap. It’s also a crystal ball that can predict the success or failure of your business.

As your contacts move through each stage of your sales funnel, some will drop off because they don’t feel that your product or service can help them. But many will continue on through your sales funnel and ultimately buy from you.

As those contacts move from one stage to the next in your sales funnel, what they do and how long it takes them will act as a fortune teller for your business:

Start by figuring out your sales funnel ratios. How many contacts are in each stage?

Then, figure out how long an average contact takes to get from your Audience stage to become a customer.

With these two numbers, you have a very useful way to predict how your business will do in the short-term future.

We’ll use some really simple numbers to illustrate how your ratios will help predict your business.

Let’s say you have 10,000 Audience members.
Of those Audience members, 1,000 become Leads.
Of those Leads, 100 become Prospects.
Of those Prospects, 10 become a customer.
Of those Customers, 1 becomes an Evangelist.
So, your ratio is 10000:1000:100:10:1.

Using this number, you can predict what would happen in your business if the only thing you did was double the number of Audience members. Assuming all else remains equal, your numbers would increase overall to 20000:2000:200:20:2. Double Audience means double everything!

By keeping tabs on this number, you can observe how slight changes in your business impact your sales: Let’s say that you had a ratio of 10000:1000:100:10:1 and then you made some changes in your Leads stage marketing and in your Prospect stage. Then you look at your numbers again and they look like this: 10000:600:120:12:1. This tells you that whatever you did in your Leads stage is hurting your sales funnel (driving the number of Leads down from 1000 to 600) but whatever you did in your Prospect stage is actually very good (because your Prospects should have dropped to 60, since the Leads dropped to 600, but they actually increased slightly).

So, you end whatever you are doing in the Leads stage and you increase whatever you are doing in the Prospect stage!

These ratios help you to know how changes to specific stages impact your business. This helps you to know how changes earlier in your sales funnel will impact the number of customers you have.

Duration is the amount of time that a contact takes to go from Audience member to Evangelist.

Here’s an example from my own business. As a business writer, I not only write about sales funnels but I also write marketing and sales content for businesses. And I discovered early in my career that it took an average of 2 weeks for a Lead to become a Customer. I knew that active Lead generation would result in Customers almost exactly 2 weeks down the road.

So, in order to know how much Lead generation I needed to do today, I just looked at my calendar 2 weeks from today and figured out how much time I had to give to clients. Then I performed various Lead generation and Prospecting activities, and sure enough, I had the right amount of clients at the right time.

The reverse was true, too: If I didn’t do any Lead generation, I would have a lot of spare time on my hands 2 weeks down the road. So, knowing the duration of your sales funnel helps you to know how much business you’ll have in the future based on your Audience members today.

Running a business is like juggling — there are so many things to keep moving. Having the ability to predict your success based on how many people are at each stage in your sales funnel, and based on how long they take to get through your sales funnel, gives you a serious advantage over your competition. Here are a few highlights:

  • A predictable business lets you invest wisely to build capacity so you can handle more and more customers.
  • An entrepreneur that knows what business is going to be like down the road can spend less time worrying and more time serving Customers.
  • An entrepreneur that can accurate predict the amount of business coming down the pipe can optimize the entire business for greater profitability.
  • A business that is that predictable can be set to autopilot faster and easier than a business that is unpredictable.

I’ve only listed a few of the many benefits that accurate sales funnel predictions offer.

Get to know your sales funnel ratio and sales funnel duration!

Published by Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and other books.

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