Primary Advisory Session: Getting Smart about the Funnel Top

Last week we held a sales advisory session for CredSimple, a portfolio company that’s selling a unique solution to enterprise clients in the healthcare space. With a current staff of three on the sales and marketing front, the CredSimple team approached us to help them identify intelligent ways of expanding the top of the funnel and creating urgency throughout the sales process. As we always do in these situations, we turned to our Primary Expert Network (PEN) to find hands-on experts who have wrestled with similar challenges. 

Main questions: The CredSimple team had a number of questions, largely centered around how to create a sense of urgency to move sales through the funnel, and strategies to generate interest from outbound prospecting. 

Advisory team: Trevor Clark, Head of New Business at Betterment, and Derek Kuhl, VP of Enterprise Sales at General Assembly led the charge in helping AJ create a strong game plan for how to tackle CredSimple's top-of-the-funnel challenges.

Key Takeaways: The primary theme of the session was that - especially at a small, early-stage company with limited sales and implementation resources - it’s not just about adding numbers to the top of the funnel. The smarter play is to go after those clients that have an identifiable, pre-existing need for your product. Focus on quality, not quantity in your funnel. And while you can’t add urgency to the sale, if you are going after the right prospects - customers who truly need what you’re selling - those sales will drive their own urgency. 

1) Be choosy about which clients to go after. Don’t chase every lead that could potentially use your product. Instead, filter that list down to the small subset that really needs it, and aggressively pursue those leads. Especially at the enterprise level, you’re not going to be able to persuade people to buy your product; the business need has to be preexisting. Design a system of three or four indicators (the primary indicator being that the customer is taking steps to move the sale along) that demonstrate real intent on the customer side to get the deal done. 

2) Maximize efficiency in the sales process. Make sure you’re selling to the right person in the client organization, and create a simple, easy-to-understand sales/implementation roadmap that lays out the process and helps the client get additional buy-in within his company. This is especially helpful in companies with no history of buying a product like yours, and often helps to expedite the sales cycle. In addition, you’ll likely be able to accelerate certain stages of the timeline by offering discounts or other financial incentives. 

3) Staff your team for strategic superiority. Bring on a sales operations person early on, as they will analyze your funnel, help with forecasting and make data-driven decisions about best practices. Have you already proven that you can sell your product in a repeatable fashion? It’s time to bring on a data-driven sales ops leader to help you understand what’s working and what’s not. 

4) Only after you’ve mastered these steps can you efficiently broaden the top of the funnel. SDRs will help you on this front, and they should be doing all of the initial legwork to get your salespeople on calls. It’s important, however, that they pass off the first customer call to the experts on your team to ensure that product information is communicated with a high degree of credibility. It’ll also help boost efficiency if you build an SDR team with complementary skill sets (outreach, data management, ops support, writing) so that they can focus on areas of strength.

Thank you to Trevor and Derek for your awesome input!