6 Mistakes Sinking Your Inbound Funnel

During our recent webinar powered by Avoma, we dove into rookie mistakes sinking your inbound  — we had 3 experts sharing their insights: Erin Hartje, Senior Marketing Manager of Brand at Avoma,  Shannon Curran, Fractional VP of Marketing at MadKudu and Matt Lyman, VP of Demand Generation at LeanData. You can watch the webinar here or dive into the key takeaways below.

Inbound Sales Funnel Sets the Stage for Your Entire Pipeline 

The top of your inbound sales funnel sets the stage for your entire pipeline, determining whether your team succeeds or fails. We’ll dive into real tactics and tricks to avoid common rookie mistakes to fully optimize your inbound sales funnel to bring in the best potential buyers and maximize your pipeline throughout your customer sales journey.

Key Takeaways:

  • Optimize your inbound sales funnel to better qualify prospects
  • Create a better, more targeted experience for potential customers
  • Boost your sales team’s performance and time management by using automation and AI.
  • Figure out how to reach and connect with buyers who have high intent

Let’s dive in!

Today’s Sales Funnel Is Not A Straight Line

The sales process isn’t straightforward anymore, with buyers engaging more before reaching the sales team. As solutions diversify, buyers expect seamless experiences, so it’s vital to connect well with them. Let’s look at some common rookie mistakes that slow things down and how to fix them.

Mistake #1: Making Buyers Jump Through Too Many Hoops 

We now know that conversions are about eight times higher when a connection is made within the first five minutes versus waiting six plus minutes.

Buyer’s number one focus is NOT looking for our solution. They have their own tasks and goals. They want to talk to you right now.

Once prospects move on to other tasks, it’s easy to lose their attention. To keep them engaged, simplify the process by allowing them to book meetings directly on your website after filling out a form. This not only increases meeting bookings but also alleviates the pressure on the GTM team to ensure timely follow-ups. 

How can marketers step in? How can we make things less painful and have less friction? 

Marketing teams can empower sellers by enabling them to focus on… selling. Providing comprehensive account information allows sellers to personalize interactions from the first call, delivering value within the initial five minutes. Research shows that demonstrating ROI within the first ten minutes significantly boosts the likelihood of closing a deal. Instead of burdening sellers with unnecessary questions, marketing and sales should collaborate closely to streamline processes. By taking initiative to gather information independently, marketers can ensure that sellers are well-equipped to succeed in every interaction. This approach not only reduces buyer frustration but also enhances the overall experience for both parties. After all, nobody enjoys completing a lengthy survey before a meeting just to address a couple of pressing questions.

Real-Life Example

If a prospect has visited multiple pages on your site, it’s essential to prioritize the products or areas they’ve shown the most interest in when making initial contact. This approach not only meets the customer’s expectations but also lays the foundation for a strong relationship from the outset. Sharing and leveraging this data effectively can make a significant impact on the customer experience and ultimately contribute to successful outcomes.

It’s crucial to book meetings within the first day. While accommodating different time slots can be challenging, ensuring there are enough options available for immediate or next-day discussions is key. We often set a buffer of four to six hours for scheduling, but research suggests that being the first to connect significantly increases the likelihood of securing a deal. 

Around 80% of buyers tend to go with the first vendor they engage with. 

This early engagement allows us to make a strong impression, showcasing our solution before competitors enter the picture. Once we’ve wowed them with a demo or conversation, other solutions become mere checkboxes in their evaluation process. Being proactive in reaching out first can make all the difference.

Mistake #2: Not Qualifying The Lead Before It Gets to Our Sales Team

The key is to qualify leads before they reach the sales team, right at the form-filling stage. While some may rely on sequential workflows, where leads are passed to the next available salesperson, this approach can lead to issues if the connection between buyer and seller isn’t optimal. 

Only 27% of inbound leads are truly qualified and sales-ready. 

Marketing can play a pivotal role in lead qualification, understanding that people ultimately buy from people. Starting with a simple form, we must strike a balance, gathering necessary information without bombarding prospects with excessive questions. The approach should be tailored based on the target audience and how they typically engage with content. While debates around forms and MQLs persist, there are instances where forms are necessary for effective qualification.

Streamlining forms with enrichment features can be incredibly beneficial, allowing us to gather essential information without overwhelming prospects.

For instance, in the B2B SaaS space, a simple question like “What CRM do you use?” can provide valuable insights and help weed out irrelevant leads. Utilizing workflows ensures that leads are routed to the appropriate team members based on their industry or other relevant criteria. While adding questions like industry or B2B/B2C designation may be necessary for larger companies with diverse business units, it’s crucial to keep forms as concise as possible while still gathering relevant context. 

Mistake  #3: Every Lead Is Going to Your Sales Team

You don’t have to talk to everyone. And actually you shouldn’t. Don’t be afraid to route people away from your sales team if they’re not in your ICP.

Marketers’ primary concern often lies in optimizing the top of the funnel and ensuring we’re attracting quality leads. 

One effective strategy is to guide leads through a post-form submission journey that provides value and narrows down their options. This can involve directing them to a thank-you page packed with on-demand demos, customer testimonials, and trial invitations, while still offering an option to connect with the sales team if needed. By tailoring the follow-up process based on user behavior and preferences, we can increase the focus on higher-quality leads, ultimately boosting win rates and average contract value (ACV). 

This approach also allows us to fine-tune our paid channels, ensuring we receive leads that align with our criteria. 

It may seem tempting to engage with every potential lead, but it’s essential to prioritize quality over quantity. By focusing on prospects who are more likely to convert and investing time in nurturing those relationships, we can drive meaningful results. 

Mistake #4: You Conversations Aren’t Personalized 

Buyers are nearly 70% through their buyers’ journey before contacting sales. 

They’re coming into that first meeting with different objectives, with different questions, different needs, and different pain points than all of the other buyers.

  • We don’t want to give them more information than what they can already find online.
  • We don’t want to provide the same experience to every single person regardless of who they are. 

Best practices to follow:

  • Personalize demos and personalize the agendas.
  • Have conversations that resonate better with the prospect.

People don’t just buy software. They often buy organizational change. 

The “Hubspots of the world” can fundamentally change the way people do marketing.

What should you consider? 

  • If you already have some information about your buyers, let them know about it. Let’s solve their problem before it’s even called a “problem”. 
  • Be human: let them feel seen.

Different buyers care about different things. If you address their specific needs, you’ll improve your chances of making a sale. Using personalized approaches increased success rates from 1.5% to 5-7%. This improvement applies to the whole sales process and makes your team’s efforts more valuable. So, focusing on quality leads to better results than just aiming for quantity.

Can Chat GPT help?

Chat GPT is a super helpful tool but you can’t depend on it entirely. One great use is summarizing long calls. People are still learning how to use it to understand their company’s image online. Make sure to double-check its insights and compare them with your knowledge and SEO data. It can also uncover new insights or help research new industries. Think of it as a copilot, freeing up time for more important tasks. But remember, don’t let it run on autopilot; personalized conversations matter. Use your best team members for meaningful interactions.

Mistake #5: You Forgot About No Shows Or Abandoned Bookings

Many salespeople give up too soon, but research shows that it often takes five or more follow-ups to secure a sale. Buyers are busy, so missed appointments don’t mean they’re uninterested. It’s important to keep trying. Marketing can help by keeping leads engaged and automating follow-ups, while sales teams can use alerts and SDRs to chase leads. If appointments are being missed, it’s crucial to figure out why. Regular checks can identify problems like boring agendas or limited time slots, so you can fix them and improve your chances of making a sale.

Instead of a wide funnel, think of our goal as a narrow pipe to capture every lead. It’s disappointing when interested prospects seem to vanish. 

Using leadership connections or different communication channels can help re-engage them. Remember, ‘not right now’ doesn’t mean ‘never,’ so keep nurturing these leads. Each lost lead had a problem we could solve, and by staying connected through webinars or collaborative content, we can address their needs.

Nurturing isn’t just about emails—it’s much broader. Multi-threading, for instance, involves engaging with various people in the company, especially in today’s complex buying landscape. You’re not just dealing with one decision-maker; you’re navigating through a whole committee. It’s about understanding the organizational change process and addressing it through different channels, like inviting them to webinars or events. It’s also crucial to track missed meetings and ensure everyone is informed. By automating this process, you can effectively re-engage prospects through targeted campaigns.

Mistake #6: Setting and Forgetting 

Optimizing the inbound sales funnel isn’t a one-time task—it requires ongoing evaluation and adjustment. Many of us set up our tools and processes and then neglect to revisit them. To ensure effectiveness, we need open communication between marketing and sales teams. Experimentation is key—setting aside small budgets or ideas to test can provide valuable insights. 

If you wanna watch the whole show, check it out here: