Constructing Funnels in Your CRM

By Lars Helgeson

Funnels are useful to measure the progress of leads as they move along your buyer journeys. From stage to stage, you can visualize the effectiveness of your sales process. They provide an excellent reporting overview that your team can monitor regularly.

CRM Funnel
A typical funnel.

Funnels are useful for sales and marketing alike, as both interact with leads and contribute to the buyer journey at different times and in different ways.

Tracking sales progress with conversions in CRM

Generally speaking, sales are divided into two types: business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C). B2B sells to companies and generally has lower sales volume thresholds, but higher-dollar products and services. B2C sells to the general public and is volume driven.

B2B and B2C both benefit from using funnels to track sales processes. Because B2B sales are more complex and generally take more time, CRM platforms have a special tracking mechanism called an opportunity to store everything about that deal. B2C sales are usually faster and don’t require the level of detail for each individual sale made. Tracking the buyer journey for a B2C sale tends to be more automated.

Defining the stages of a conversion

Every sale has a process, a buyer journey. Along that journey, you set up specific gates to define stages of the sales process. As leads move from stage to stage, you can measure how long they take and what percentage of leads drop out of the journey.

When you set up your funnels, have specific, defined criteria to determine when a lead moves to the next stage. Often with B2B opportunities, these gates are when a lead takes an action, such as agrees to a demo, accepts a proposal, or signs a contract. With B2C, stages in the funnel might be when a lead visits a specific page on your website, downloads a whitepaper, or purchases a product.

It’s important that everyone on the sales and marketing teams understands what each stage represents and can easily identify when someone doesn’t advance to the next stage. Oftentimes in modern selling, a lead backtracks in your sales process, deciding to take more time to make a decision, or passing off responsibility for the purchase to someone else. When backtracking happens, your CRM must track this movement.

The image below shows an example of how you can define stages in a conversion process.

Stages of conversion
Defining stages of a conversion.

Measuring time and dropout rates for each stage

Funnels provide two very useful metrics to help you understand your sales process — time in stage and dropout rates. When you see your funnel, your CRM should display these key statistics for you. You should establish goals and measure long-term averages as benchmarks. If you’re starting and have no context, you can start with industry benchmarks.

Watch the final stage of conversion. For example, the software industry standard is generally 10 to 15 percent with many competitors in the crowded market, but one company sets a benchmark of 30 percent. If your numbers show significant deviation from your industry standards or goals, find out why.

Every month, your sales and marketing teams should look at your funnels to determine the performance of your overall sales process, as well as how each salesperson is performing. You can learn from these key factors:

  • Campaigns: Are any of your campaigns bringing in higher quality leads? If leads spend less time in the funnel to become clients, or if a greater percentage of leads become clients, you’re seeing better leads and those campaigns should get more investment.
  • Sales benchmarks: Are your salespeople hitting conversion percentage goals and sales quotas (numbers of conversions)? If the bottom of the funnel is more human-intensive, examine how each salesperson is doing. More sales training may be required if you see recurring patterns of low conversion rates by some of your sales team.
  • Marketing benchmarks: Wherever marketing is involved, track overall and specific performance in the funnel. One metric is the total number of leads that hit the top of the funnel, a measure of awareness. The second stage in the funnel measures lead quality. If certain gates between stages filter a large percentage of leads, ascertain whether it’s due to lead quality or your sales process. By filtering funnel reports by campaign ID, you can see how each campaign performs against the others.

Activating workflows for stages in CRM

Leverage your CRM’s ability to track the progress of your leads. Activate workflows to encourage leads to progress through your sales process and funnel. As you analyze your sales process, examine how and why people advance to the next phase. Bring together your sales and marketing teams to assess whether activating a workflow when a lead hits that gate helps the sales process.

Check out how you can set workflows to be activated automatically when an opportunity reaches a given stage. Another option may be to set a fixed percentage for chance to close the opportunity when that opportunity reaches a given stage.

Funnel stage automation in CRM
A funnel stage automation configuration screen.

Look at your process abandonment strategy. If a lead gets stuck in a stage for too long, activate a workflow as a way to push that lead to advance. For example, you can send a lead a discount code if you feel leads lose interest due to price.