How Do You Track Your Funnel When You Have a Non-Linear Buying Process?

Imagine you’re playing football with the ball on your own 10-yard line. Since you have a lot of ground to cover to score a touchdown, you’ll probably call more passing plays, throwing the ball to your receivers downfield because you need to cover a lot of ground.

However, your play calls change if you’re on the opponent’s 10-yard line. Your receivers won’t be running deep routes. Instead, you’ll likely rely more on your ground game, handing the ball off to your running back to carry the ball into the endzone.

In both instances, the yard lines serve to tell you where your team is on the field, which informs the plays that are appropriate given the situation you’re in during the game.

In Sales, the funnel serves the same purpose as yard lines. Depending on what stage of the funnel you’re at, you know which plays Sales and Marketing should execute to get closer to a deal. But the buying process is non-linear, right? What gives?

I’ll let Jon Miller, CEO of Engagio, take it from here. In the video, he explains how the linear funnel stages are still crucial in non-linear buying processes, and how funnel stages empower your Sales and Marketing team to work towards a deal with greater alignment.



Brandon: Hey everyone! Brandon and Jon here from Engagio, and today we’re talking about funnels.

Jon: Yup.

Brandon: So we have this thing in marketing that everyone knows, and it’s the funnel. But, buying these days, not always linear. Funnel’s very linear, buying, not linear.

Jon: Right.

Brandon: So what gives?

Jon: Yeah, I mean, obviously in Engagio, we’ve invested a lot in the concept of account journeys and funnels. It’s a pretty flagship feature of our product where people can go in and define their unique,

Account stages and then track, track movement through it, and at the same time, we believe passionately that buying is non-linear. And that the key reason why people need new solutions is because the traditional linear baton hand-off marketing to sales is broken.

So, how do you connect these two ideas? I think, so, I have an analogy I think that makes, that makes a lot of sense. Which is, I always talk about, marketing sales is not a baton hand-off anymore, it’s like a soccer team,

Where you have people in different roles, they’re playing different positions, but they’re working together to pass the ball back and forth down the field.

Brandon: Yup. So that inherently, that’s a very non-linear process. The ball’s moving around, it’s going forward, sometimes it goes back, and I think it’s a good metaphor for the buying process.

Jon: Yup. But what else is going on? Assuming this is not on every soccer field but stay with me for a sec. Maybe you’re playing soccer on a football field.

Brandon: Okay. Which means there’s yard lines.

Jon: Yup. And the yard lines are on the field. And they tell you a lot of useful information. For example, they tell you two key things. One, it’s a pretty good proxy for how, how you’re doing.

Brandon: Yeah. If you are on the 10-yard line,

Jon: Your own 10-yard line.

Brandon: Well, if you’re on your own 10-yard line, you have a lot of work to do. Right, if you’re on their 10-yard line, you’re probably getting pretty close to scoring.

Jon: Pretty close, yeah. And so just knowing what yard line you’re on, is valuable information. And the funnel does that for you. It tells you where you are in the journey, even though the process might be moving back and forth. The other thing it tells you, is what kind of plays you might be running. This maybe works a little bit better for football than for soccer but, again if you are on, your 20, you’re gonna do long passes probably.

Whereas if you are on the two-yard line, you’re going to try different kinds of plays. Exact same thing’s true is in the funnel for, for this non-linear ABM. Knowing where that account is in their non-linear buying process, will tell you a lot about what are the right things to do, what should marketing be doing and what should have sales should be doing.

So, you add it all up, I believe these two concepts are completely compatible. We live in a world with non-linear buying, very complex buying journeys, and we also can properly use the metaphor of a funnel to help track where we are and help us to know what are the best practices that we should run.

Brandon: Great, I love it! Thanks, John!

Jon: Thank you!