Flywheel vs. Funnel

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If you’re in marketing, then you’re probably most familiar with the funnel approach to closing a sale. The funnel is the traditional, tried-and-true method that marketing has been used for decades. However, did you know there’s a newer approach called the flywheel? Here, I will describe and compare the models.

Funnel

The funnel approach to marketing is linear. At the top of the funnel are all of the marketing efforts that go into generating as many leads as possible, and the bottom signifies how many leads are converted to customers from the sales process. This template is concerned with one-time buyers.

Flywheel

The flywheel concept was developed by Hub Spot’s CEO and co-founder Brian Halligan. It’s used to express the cyclical nature of marketing. Marketing leads to sales, which leads to delivering services, and that leads back to marketing, and so on.

The flywheel is continually spinning, maintaining a constant energy.

Customers are in the center of the wheel. This is because marketing and sales need to focus on the consumer and build and nourish relationships. Customer experience is central. Customers should not be a one-time occurrence, as with the sales funnel, but as potential returning clients to your business. Being customer-centric helps grow your business.

Comparing the Two

With the flywheel, the customer is an investment and a growth agent, whereas, with the funnel, the customer is simply an outcome. The flywheel uses satisfied customers as momentum to repeat sales and generate referrals, thereby keeping your business “spinning.” 

Making customers successful makes them more likely to relay their experience to others.

It’s up to sales, marketing, and customer service to eliminate any friction the flywheel may encounter, anything that would slow it down, such as lack of communication between teams, misalignment of your customers and employees, or poor internal processes.

The problem with the funnel is that it hasn’t changed over the years, while consumer buying habits have evolved significantly. Today’s consumer is skeptical and wants to do their own research to find products that meet their needs. The flywheel is conceived with today’s consumers in mind.

The funnel expends a lot of energy to make a single sale to maybe never see that customer again.

The flywheel places that same customer at its center, and instead of just walking away forever, they become a promoter and a return customer to your products and/or services. The flywheel potentially makes all of its customers into investments. You establish a long-term relationship with your customers that will help grow your business.

The funnel is composed of several funnels. Customers go through marketing, sales, and customer service funnels separately. This creates silos, where no team is really working with each other. The flywheel pulls all of those teams together, with each getting more support and decreasing friction. Businesses with solid sales and marketing alignment do 208% better in revenue.

The Verdict?

If you are looking for a more consumer-centered approach, then the flywheel is the way to go. While the funnel has worked for many years, it hasn’t evolved with today’s consumer buying habits. 

If you’re looking to change your strategy, don’t stress! It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to transition from one model to another. Your first course of action is to begin to align your marketing, sales, and customer service teams so that everyone works together to create the best customer experience. If you can do that, you’re well on your way.

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