The Messy Middle of sales

The Messy Middle of sales

Does every part of your funnel have the proper attention?

Very often, the focus in any pipeline is either at the bottom, where you're focused on closing deals because those opportunities are the closest to seeing the revenue. Or the focus is at the top of the funnel, where you're stressing about where the new conversations are coming from.

That leaves the middle of the funnel, which is often neglected because its opportunities are already 'in' the funnel.

You've already partly convinced them you're the right solution to their problem. So they'll be 'okay' in the middle and make their own way through in their own time.

Well, it's not that easy, and, unfortunately, the job is far from done. It's a complex stage of sales that requires meticulous attention and a strategic approach.

In most pipelines, this messy middle doesn't get the love it needs.

It either overloads this stage with excessive technology and tools to supposedly give insights to move the opportunity forward, but more often than not, your middle of the funnel needs some process basics and focus on manually managing the funnel.

Both of those outcomes are not going to support sustainable sales growth.

So, what can you do to avoid this mess?

Process first. Technology second

At the heart of the messy middle lies a common problem. A lack of process, strategy, and defined roles and responsibilities.

These are simple things to solve, but often, with the mindset that "the middle can take care of itself," small changes and clarity of 'how' we want to do things can go a long way.

What we often find looks a bit like this:

1. Inconsistent nurturing

Opportunities, no matter how cold they may seem, require consistent nurturing. Without a well-defined process, these leads can become stagnant, falling out of the pipeline before they even have a chance to develop.

2. Opportunities dying on the vine

Good opportunities go bad because they're not nurtured closely enough. They get lost between the cracks on who owns it at what stage or you go snow-blind because there's too many opportunities in one place in the pipeline and you can't see which ones to nurture.

3. Over-reliance on technology

While smart technology can enhance the sales process, an over-reliance on it without a clear strategy can lead to confusion and inefficiency. Technology should support, not replace, the fundamental processes and strategy.

4. Undefined sales stages

Granularity in sales stages is crucial. Each stage should have clear, actionable steps that move opportunities through the pipeline. Without this, the middle of the funnel becomes a black hole where leads are lost.

5. Overloading your tech architecture

Yes, there is some cool tech out there that gives sals insights, but if you're strapping it all together without some clear foundation, there is a risk of using tech for tech's sake, which will slow your funnel down and complicate things for your team.

Building a solid foundation

Addressing these challenges has simple foundations. Your business needs to establish a robust base layer of understanding encompassing a clear process, approach to strategic nurturing, and well-defined roles.

Here are some of the key competitors to focus on:

1. Develop a clear process

Outline each step of the sales journey, from initial contact to closing the deal. This process should be detailed and granular, providing clear guidance on how to handle leads at every stage.

2. Strategic nurturing

Implement a nurturing strategy that focuses on building relationships and adding value. This involves regular communication, personalised follow-ups, and addressing the unique needs of each lead.

3. Define roles and responsibilities

Ensure that everyone involved in the sales process knows their role and responsibilities. This clarity helps maintain accountability and streamline the sales process.

4. Define nurture tactics for each sales stage

Build a tool kit of pre-agreed tactics with your team and agree on how and when to use them. And yes, your content will be a key player in this tool kit.

5. Define granular in your sales stages

Build out a sales stage approach. Really think through the nudge points and steps you need to move the prospect through the middle of the funnel. Keep an open mind to the fact that there are lots. More is probably better to start with. Also, ensure you're constantly optimising the stages based on learnings.

6. Leverage technology wisely

Technology should enhance the sales process, not complicate it. So, keep whatever you have in your tech stack simple. Slowly assess which tools work for you above your CRM. Tools like Sales Enablement tools for added buyer insight. Start small., Do a test. Direction is more important than speed here.

Only implement tools that provide the insights and analytics to help sales teams make informed decisions. And don't over do the tech.

Let's wrap this up

One key takeaway here is simple - don't forget the messy middle. It needs a lot of love to ensure it's a high-performing component of your pipeline.

By focusing on developing a clear process, strategic nurturing, and wisely leveraging technology, businesses can transform this chaotic stage into a streamlined and efficient pathway to closing deals.

Remember, the key lies in building a solid foundation—one that supports a granular view of each opportunity and ensures a smooth transition through every stage of the funnel. This approach makes the middle of the funnel less messy and more manageable, ultimately driving better sales outcomes.

Back to blog