What Shape Is Your Funnel? How to Determine Your Funnel and Why It’s the Most Important Thing You Will Do

I haven’t had many guest writers on this blog, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start to use them. Today’s post was written by one of my boys, Chris Jablonski, who works with me in the Tippit consulting group. He’s been a marketer, writer and analyst for over 10 years at CNET Networks, IDG Communications and a couple of startups. He’s awesome and I am excited to publish his work on The Funnelholic.

Chris describes a compelling new look at the buyer funnel developed at Tippit.

You’ve probably seen the funnel metaphor that describes B2B sales cycles and have come across many different flavors. They’re either vertical or horizontal, and are divided into any number of buyer stages. (I’ve even seen a funnel that widens back out to include post-purchase). At Tippit, we strived to find a better way to depict the funnel so that it could be more meaningful to vendors by actually helping them with their marketing strategy. We discovered that the shape and size, or “geometry,” of a funnel is governed by three characteristics: The number of buyers in your market, the length of your sale cycle and your conversion rate. To tie them together, we developed a heuristic, or rule-of-thumb, represented by this formula:

In a recently published white paper, we describe how these variables influence the buyer funnel and propose a funnel continuum that represents the diversity of B2B markets. We show how on one end of the continuum lies the “Macro” funnel, and the opposite end, a “Micro” funnel. For each type of funnel, there are a specific set of marketing tactics that apply. This takeaway helps marketers focus their efforts on activities that are going to be effective.

I recommend that you download the free white paper (quick and easy registration) to find out the shape of your funnel and what it means for how you approach demand generation. You can also sign-up for the upcoming Webinar on the topic with Tippit’s CEO, Scott Albro.

Download the white paper here.
Sign-up for the Webinar here.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • Karin W

    Tried to access the whitepaper you referred to, but was very dissappointed to find a web form that only allows us format telephone numbers and zip codes.
    I guess I should just make something up… So much for the quality of Tippits web leads 😉

  • Craig,
    Great insight packed into a quick read, it only took 3 minutes!

    I’m a long-time student of B2B IT sales and immediately saw the connection between your funnel definitions and Geoffrey Moore’s Technology Adoption Lifecycle. Moore’s book changed my outlook on selling IT gear and you have added a valuable extension for modern marketers.

    What struck me the most is that many emerging high-tech companies take a Macro funnel approach to a Micro funnel problem. Early market companies must focus on targeted, niche areas until they get a foot hold and can move into the Mainstream. While some argue that this has changed with the “new rules of marketing”, I would argue that the breadth of information choices makes it more difficult than ever to gain early market traction.

    I want to also commend you on promoting the Funnel versus the Pipeline. It may seem like a small detail, but anyone who refers to the sales process as a pipeline has never been responsible for one!