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Funnel is dead, long live Flywheel

According to the statistics, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is the most frequently used enterprise software nowadays (11,2% of budget share). Moreover CRM software accounts for over a third of total software spend per employee. Companies spent billions on developing efficiency in sales and intelligent processes to drive revenue. There are hundreds of vendors on the market who want to sell turnkey solutions. No wonder that  worldwide CRM market grew 12.6% to $69.3 billion in 2020 (see Gartner’s Market Share: Customer Experience and Relationship Management, Worldwide, 2020).

Traditional CRM software is built around the sales and marketing processes. Typical customer or a “Lead” moved along the sales funnel from qualification, to negotiation and later close. This behavior was expected and the behavior of buyers, especially buyers of digital software / SaaS products changed recently due to a major trend - the consumerization of enterprise tech. It means that software is transforming as corporations adopt consumer-like solutions for business use, and often purchased through consumer channels. Nowadays, employees are not waiting for the long-term approval to get enterprise solutions that can be outdated, they are turning to solutions that can be downloaded and installed fast. Three points that describe Software consumerization:

  • SaaS Software is bought and not sold
  • Sales motion is driven by inbound customer interest and not only by the vendor's outbound efforts
  • Best SaaS players are able to retain and expand existing customer base by forming and managing the long-term customer relationships

New software buying is happening over longer periods of time, so users are no longer moved through a linear sales funnel with the  beginning and an end. In SaaS, there is no end, because there should be constant renewals, advocacy, referrals and other services. We see an entire loop of the customer life cycle. This idea is the heart of an inbound business approach.

One of the best examples of how Flywheel can be defined is coined by HubSpot Inbound - an approach of attracting, engaging, and delighting clients to grow a business that builds trust and value. In contrast to the traditional approach of thinking of your business as a funnel, with leads running in at the top and customers coming out at the bottom, you need to think of your business as a loop or circle — as a flywheel.

The flywheel is creating a remarkable customer experience when you align your whole organization around creating customer value. The ideal process to inbound of your business:

  1. Attract prospects through creating useful content and other online resources
  2. Engage prospects and turn them to the customers
  3. Delight your customers by the valuable experience you provided them, and that positive word-of-mouth effect then involve more prospects for your business to engage with and delight

Picture 1 - The Flywheel by HubSpot.com

This cyclical flywheel motion is truly never ending, and that's the value of it.

The traditional sales funnel focuses solely on prospects and how to quickly move them through the process of becoming a customer, without consideration of how customers can feed back into the funnel for repeat purchases.

Funnels lose the energy you put into them once you reach the bottom, but flywheels are remarkable at storing and releasing energy.

In the next sections, we’ll get into detail about each part of the flywheel.

Attracting Strategies

Attracting customers includes drawing valuable content and conversations. It will indicate your company as a trusted advisor who shares quality and useful content.

The prospects who have taken interest in your solution method of revenue operations to their problem and provided their contact details in exchange for content that is helpful to them. To understand how your business attracts people, reflect on:

  • Online properties you use to attract prospects and repeat customers. This could include your website, social media profiles, or listing websites
  • Creating content that helps customers in their active research process before making a decision of purchase. Topic clusters and pillar pages help answer your customer questions
  • Offline office or store of your business helps customers or prospects to come to your store, communicate with sales managers, get a special deal and make a decision about purchase

Engaging Strategies

Engaging the customer includes presenting insights and solutions that align with their pain points and goals, so they are more likely to buy from you. Engaged prospects are those who are considering your solution method to their problem and want to actually connect with someone at your company about it. To understand how your business engages people, you need:

  • Reflect on the various touchpoints your customers have with your team, so you can assess the ease with which your customers can get their questions answered
  • Contemplate how easy it is for shoppers to find what they're searching for
  • Examine the pros and cons your customers have about whether they need to speak to an employee in order to buy from you or leverage a self-service option
  • Focus on how people get in contact with your team and what your response time is like. Record the answers along with all the metrics you apply to measure them

Delighting Strategies

Delighting people includes providing support and help to empower your clients to find satisfaction with their purchase. Delighting strategies include:

  • Happiness of the customer
  • Customer can recommend you to a friend
  • Business repeating
  • Client complaints

To understand how your business delights people, survey your customers to see how happy they are about working with you. Use surveys that measure your customers' Net Promoter Scores, or NPS. This survey assesses how likely they are to recommend you to a friend. Find out why certain customers come back and do business with you again. Seek out and analyze what complaints your customers have. List these all out, and include all the relevant metrics you can.


  • The consumerization of enterprise tech is changing to the consumer-like solutions for business use and fast adopting new technologies through employee or team autonomy
  • Traditional sales funnel approach might be misleading in the new reality of digital and SaaS products and not support continual buyer engagement
  • Companies should think in a flywheel sales motion by creating customer value and actively investing in new technologies that will attract, engage and delight customers as not ending process
  • Overall customer engagement and customer delighting or broader scope Customer Health Score is a new future KPI for the companies replaced classical a conversion rate from lead to close the deal, that cares about the customer for a lifetime
  • New North Star metrics for the companies are the Lifetime Value and Net Revenue Retention. These metrics are the best indicators for the continuous long-term relationship between buyers and vendors in a new SaaS Software future

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