I’ve been using the sales funnel for 28 years, my whole career. This year, I retired the funnel — threw it a party, gave it a gold watch, and congratulated it on its move to a condo in Florida.
It was the right thing to do.
For one thing, in an era when trust in traditional sources has eroded — in government, media, and in companies and the marketing they employ — word-of-mouth from trusted peers wields greater clout than ever.
For another, the funnel fails to capture momentum. A boss of mine used to say, “The sun rises and sets on the quarter.” By the end of a quarter, she had wrung every ounce of energy out of marketing, and we started the next quarter from a standstill with no momentum and no leverage.
That’s no longer true. After years of inbound marketing, your company has assets: evergreen content; backlinks to your site; social media followings; and, of course, customers who advocate for your brand. For many of us, our marketing departments could take a vacation for a month, and new visitors and leads would continue to come in, and existing customers would continue to refer new business. That’s momentum.
These days, instead of talking about the funnel, we talk about the flywheel. For us, flywheel is a powerful metaphor. The flywheel was used by James Watt over 200 years ago in his steam engine, the invention that powered the Industrial Revolution. It is highly efficient at capturing, storing, and releasing energy.
Using a flywheel to describe our business allows me to focus on how we capture, store and release our own energy, as measured in traffic and leads, free sign-ups, new customers, and the enthusiasm of existing customers. It’s got a sense of leverage and momentum. The metaphor also accounts for loss of energy, where lost users and customers work against our momentum and slow our growth.
I’ve become obsessed with two dynamics that make our flywheel spin fast: force and friction.
Source: Harvard Business Review