Funnel of Opportunity

Welcome to the Funnel of Opportunity!

This is an introduction video that shows the use of a Trello board for the program. Since, uploading the program to the Lab, I have discontinued using the Trello board except for individualized training. If you would like a copy of the board send me a note over and I will invite you to your own individual board for your use. The introduction video still serves as a nice way to familiarize yourself with the terminology and making sure you can access other material

Video Link:

You Are Who Your Customers Are

If we start with our core customer and core value proposition; things begin to change. We create better relationships and a higher level of learning opportunities. Thus, we can communicate more effectively across more channels and/or people within our customers, develop more business development opportunities and connect with influencers. You must be willing to dig deep to understand customers. It becomes all about engagement and building effective feedback loops. These loops become our method of learning. We use this learning to provide more value to our customers and participate with them at the relevant edges of the use of our products/services.

The Funnel of Opportunity is created from the edges of these learnings. We learn how and whom to engage within other organizations. We build upon the known toward the unknown. Always reaching out pushing the edges, looking for adjacency in our markets. It is not about creating a downstream or upstream flow in some funnel; it is about being relevant in our customer’s market. This type of thinking is outcome-based. A defined outcome provides a set of standards so that we can be prepared for our engagements. By having these standards, it creates a set of boundaries for us to work in and when we hit an obstacle, it is just a pause because we know where we are headed.

The Funnel of Opportunity is a 12-step Process.

Step 1: Identify Target Customers, Key Accounts interviewing to develop an Outside-In Perspective
Step 2: Define the desired Customer Outcomes (JTBD)
Step 3: Name our Product/Service Offerings and the value each provided the customer
Step 4: State the Value Proposition that was used in acquiring this customer
Step 5: What were the Sales/Marketing activities that were used in each stage? (Think Down – Individual: Explore, Engage, Empower)
Step 6: What were the different marketing channels the customer participated in? (Think Up – Branding)
Step 7: What were the budgets, people, skills, constraints committed by us?
Step 8: Group customers & clearly articulate why this is a cluster & identify the BACKS of this cluster.
Step 9: Define the fringe, uncover hidden patterns, use CIPHER to shape the future
Step 10: Clearly articulate the co-creation of a shared vision with key accounts
Step 11: Listening & Learning through continuous evaluation and monitoring practices
Step 12: Sustain & Grow through the practice of standard work, continuous improvement, exploration (SDCA, PDCA, EDCA)

Funnel of Opportunity

But it’s not entirely linear as we will double back during Step 8 and repeat the first 7 steps several times if needed. Steps 5, 6, 11, and 12 are the heart of our tactics and implementation. But more about all that later.

There is always an opportunity. However, there is not a step by step method. Innovators, Start-Ups, and even Scaling Businesses look for that formula and try to think of an effective and efficient way to go about it. The problem that exists is that most opportunities are not created they are discovered. You have to venture into the unknown, and most of us are just not Captain Kirk.

In Kata (Experiment), we think of the Target Condition we want to reach. We discover the obstacles along the way and work through the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act, Scientific Method) cycle to overcome them. In the non-profit world, we may look at Impacts and the desired outcomes we need to achieve to get there. With both of these methods, though uncomfortable at first, we get accustomed to not having to have a defined path towards the end result. We learn that it is a journey, and though uncomfortable at first, it is something that we can learn. I will mention that it is not easy to go at alone and for both, I recommend a coach.

Both of these processes lend themselves to sales and marketing, and I have used both in my consulting practice. There is another approach that is adjacent in thinking and may take a better approach or a path to discovery. That is the role of an explorer.

I go back to explorers of the past that old Columbus, Magellan, Lewis and Clark and Leif Erickson model you might say (And just so we are on the same page lets define the act of exploration as the searching for the purpose of discovery of information or resources). What did they do that others do not? They relinquished the idea of controlling the outcome. When we think of opportunity, it often equates to uncertainty, loss of control. The space that most of us try to define and manipulate others on some desired path to reach/accomplish.

In sales and marketing, we think we can create opportunity. We construct Marketing Funnels, Process Maps, Service Blueprints and other tools thinking that we can create a customer/opportunity from it. I am not saying any of this is wrong because just be the actual application of a process of some type we are going to focus and become more effective and maybe even more efficient.

Successful companies do not have a magic formula. If they do, it is a matter of trying more things that put themselves in a better position to recognize or not to recognize opportunity quicker. It is about acting and trying different opportunities along the journey. Explorers are also masters of saying no or preventing from getting to far drawn off. They are grounded in reality. This reality of understanding their own capabilities allows them to seize a moment when it exists. This is often called skill or luck, but it is also about being prepared. And as a side note, good salespeople intuitively can “smell” a lost opportunity. They are seldom wrong.

How do you go about exploration in sales and marketing? “Begin where you are.” This is my first advice to most companies; Formulating that current state not only of your present capabilities and the knowledge that your customers have empowered you with. Their markets and the way they make decisions. Then start exploring opportunities based on what you have learned about present customers. Remember action precedes knowledge most of the time, so in essence, cold calling is not dead just refined.

What about exploration at the top of the funnel, not at the bottom? I would argue that adjacent customer behaviors and needs will allow you to explore more than you can handle and is the quickest and most effective way to gain new business. The most important thing we can do to create opportunity is to set a path and move to action which most of us do in creating a sales and marketing process (just in the wrong direction). What we don’t do is the third thing relinquish the idea that we can control the outcome. When we can leave that idea go, we accept and evaluate opportunity based on our capabilities. What is so wonderful is that it expands our understanding by letting go. We see things that we have never seen. Opportunities that we have never seen. It reminds of an old Zen saying, “to take a deep breath, you must first exhale.”

It is best to go through and read each page step by step. I would then go back and start the work on a project board such as Trello. On each page, I give you the references to take a deeper dive in the particular subject areas that has influenced my thinking most. I encourage using that material in conjunction with this effort. Always feel free to reach out and contact me with any questions or comments.

Funnel of Opportunity Program: 

For those who have not watched the introduction video: