Social Business, Social Media Strategy

Funnel Vision: Why Companies Need To See The Light At the End of the Funnel

 Funnel Vision

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Brian Solis‘s new book, What’s the Future of Business? Learn more about the book and purchase a copy at

Over the years, businesses have developed sales, marketing, and service strategies around the sales funnel. The model of awareness, interest, desire, and action describes the likely steps a customer may take in making a decision. If only the world were that simple.

It was assumed that the linear path of the funnel would continue despite the evolution of technology and behavior.

That has changed.

Today, the customer journey goes beyond a simple sales funnel. Yet it is the funnel model that dictates how businesses invest in product development, sales, marketing, and service strategies. It’s a big problem.

In a narrow, but honest, view businesses are designed to pull customers into the funnel. Strategists see people as targets and use marketing, not products or exceptional experiences, as bait. It’s assumed that customers make decisions that follow a series of linear and equally weighted steps to find and purchase your products and then later advocate to anyone and everyone on your behalf.

Think about what a funnel really operates on:

1. The Persuasion

Convince the prospects that they need your product without considering their need, experience, or the reward. This is done through clever marketing and advertising. Contests and campaigns also raise awareness to create need or the perception of it.

2. The Hook

Emphasize the reasons to buy in the moment rather than the long-term relationship or outcome. Packaging, price, rebate, gifts, and promotions are often the lure necessary to convert browsing into action.

3. The Exchange

Convert the prospect into a customer. This is the moment someone officially becomes a stakeholder. There is an exchange beyond the payment for a product. Value must now be delivered on both sides of the relationship.

4. The Distance

The distance here is that the space between the brand promise and the customer experience begins to spread. If a customer encounters anything negative, the distance is then measured by the steps it takes for a customer and business to connect and bring about resolution.

5. The Re-Enchantment

Realizing that the customer experience is not completely understood, this stage is dedicated to finding ways to keep customers interested and coming back. Strategies include discounts, promotions, exclusive offers, loyalty programs, and beta tests, among others.

6. The Governance

Once customers are enticed or in some cases ensnared, the relationship moves into a state of customer relationship management. You’re now forever known as a number with a record on file. Conversations are now managed as tickets and placed within a queue for engagement and resolution. Your service level and attention level can be tied to your position within the customer hierarchy.

Businesses today invest to varying degrees and effectiveness in marketing, advertising, and communications programs. However, customer attention isn’t a switch that toggles on and off— it is a state of perpetual engagement. (tweet this)

The blaring noise that customers continually experience has forced them to adapt. Second nature acts as a defense mechanism to tune out the constant barrage of marketing messages and clever campaigns. Awareness at the top of the funnel is elusive but the stakes have never been higher.

What was once a simplistic representation of a fluted customer journey must become much more dynamic and connected. Learning how to uncover the moment of truth and shape experiences will set the stage for more meaningful outcomes and relationships.

Your market has already been disrupted. Through an unforgiving series of technology revolutions in an era of individual empowerment, your customers are not only more informed, their expectations have grown. It’s time to turn off the funnel vision and write a new future of business.

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  1. says

    Instead of a funnel, I like to think of it as creating gravity…customers naturally attract to your “core” if you make a center of gravity that’s compelling. In terms of service, resources, useful product, vision, and relatability, making gravity draws the right customer, not just whoever happened to “fall into the funnel.” This post was really thought-provoking, thanks!

  2. Alex Schleber says

    Great post Brian Solis. All of the old ways (and I’ve been party to them via Archetype Branding, etc.) reek of exploitation/predation of your fellow (wo)man. Notice the terms used – clever, lure, hook, persuasion (= exploitation of psychological phenomena/flaws-in-thinking, including often very explicitly of the childhood/youth mind).

    3, 4, and 6 remind me of Caveat Emptor, asf. hugely asymmetric power relationship re: information, (affordability of) legal recourse, payment terms, etc. etc.

    And of why Douglas Rushkoff likens all branding/marketing/”storytelling” to a mere fig leaf for otherwise unpalatable industrial processes. Rough quote: “No, those cookies were not really made by elves in a hollow tree…”. (= Distance).

  3. morgancarrie says

    Bold move, using WTF as your acronym, Brian! I haven’t decided if I like it or not.

    I love the premise of your book. The sales funnel smacks of process and automation, when marketing has shifted to one-on-one conversations, transparency across all levels of sales and customer service, and deeper relationships. The need for sales processes that can be duplicated won’t be going away, but they definitely need to be addressed so that they shift to fit in with ( and build on) what is going on TODAY’S online environment. The disconnect between processes and how companies are investing in sales/marketing and the reality of what is happening in the market place and how that changes the decision process MUST be addressed.

    What did you think of ZMOT? Do you think that zero moment of truth should impact sales funnels on a B2B level?

    • says

      Hello Morgan. I tested WTF in advance….once you read the book, it becomes a proud statement to share! :)

      In the book, I walk through the four moments of truth…from ZMOT to UMOT (The Ultimate Moment of Truth) and how the UMOT becomes the next person’s ZMOT.

      ps love your comment.

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