As marketing and sales strategies go, the sales funnel is the Marketing Bible. Companies have used it for years and structured their campaigns and processes around it. The method was simple. The top part of the funnel gets filled with marketing plans pushing people into the funnel. Once the prospects are in the funnel, they begin more marketing campaigns designed to drive customers deeper into the funnel. They get pushed into sales, and out they come out as a customer.
That worked for a time. But something is not exactly right. These days, the most significant influence on customers’ purchasing decisions comes from referrals and word of mouth. This means that the funnel thinks of the customer as the end. It views customers as an afterthought and not a driving force. That’s because funnels produce customers but have no consideration of how those customers can help you grow as a business.
That’s why the flywheel is so important.
In the funnel model, customers are often passed from marketing to sales, then customer service. When you get shifted from one department to another, it doesn’t lead to a very comfortable customer experience. But with the flywheel model, every team in the entire company’s mission is to attract, engage, and delight customers.
The actual flywheel was invented 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. The amount of energy it stores depends on how fast it spins, the amount of friction it encounters, and its size. Think of it like the wheels on a train or a car.
The Flywheel model became famous after Hubspot adopted it as their own and evangelized it across the entire internet. They explain the Flywheel model as the momentum your company gathers when you sign up the whole company around delivering a phenomenal customer experience. Unlike the funnel that puts customers as an afterthought in a marketing and sales strategy, the Flywheel Model puts them at heart, keeping customers happy, allowing them to drive referrals, and helping the company make sales.
Other models think of customers as a result and nothing more. This means that the energy you spent acquiring that customer is wasted, bringing them back to the top of the panel. If you’re an existing client, being back to the same marketing process is also not a good experience.
The Flywheel relies on three things, the speed, the friction, and the size. The more force you apply to a flywheel, the faster it spins. These define the amount of energy or your momentum. If you have considered the Flywheel, it changes your entire outlook and plans. The most successful companies have adjusted their business strategies to address all three things.
Your flywheel speed increases when you make an effort to push to areas that have the biggest impact. At each stage depicted above --you create strategies that attract, delight, and engage customers. The strategies and programs you implement become the force to speed up your flywheel. Having a great customer service, a good customer referral program, paid advertising, a great selling process, all these contribute to the speed of your flywheel. And when you’re focused on making your customers successful, they’re more likely to express their appreciation by relaying their satisfaction to potential customers.
HubSpot has defined each stage as the following:
Attract: Attracting is about using your expertise to create content and conversations that start meaningful relationships with the right people.
Engage: Engaging builds lasting relationships with people by providing insights and solutions that align with their roadblocks and goals.
Delight: Delighting is about providing an outstanding experience that adds real value, empowers people to reach their goals, and become promoters of your company.
For something to move forward smoothly, you will also need to make sure that there is no opposite force stopping your progress. That means eliminating friction from your business strategy. Anything that slows down your flywheel is friction. When your teams are badly structured, causing a lack of communication between teams, or you have poor internal processes, this results in friction. It forces your flywheel to get stuck. You can reduce friction by looking at how your teams are structured, figure out why your customers are churning, and where prospects are getting stuck in the buyer’s journey. Align your teams and make sure that communication lines are open. Study your pricing as well as your old funnel structure and make sure that people get to ride the wheel according to their journey and not the strict process of the old funnel.
The more you increase speed and decrease friction, the more you will create your business’s fans and advocates. And all those advocates become a strong force that spins your flywheel.
As you can see, the flywheel model is a more comprehensive, unified way of representing the forces affecting your company’s growth.
The actions taken by each team at your company impact each other. Your marketing inputs affect how quickly prospects move through your sales process. Your sales motion affects how likely it is prospects will become happy and successful customers. And of course, your support and service activities impact whether your customers become promoters — people who recommend you to their colleagues — or warn their networks to stay away.
Don’t get us wrong, the sales funnel was and is a remarkable tool. It had a great run, and it’s still being used by companies today, albeit not as successful as before. A lot more companies are adapting to the flywheel because the times have already changed. Like the CDs and DVDs, a better solution has been found. And when there’s a better solution out there, it’s time to innovate.
Now, the flywheel isn’t going to magically solve your marketing and sales target, especially if they’re being measured on quarterly quotas. That said, the flywheel does provide a better method of addressing all of the prospects and customers your sales team is in contact with. When the customer is at the heart of your flywheel (and they should be), they’re what’s driving your speed.
At Gravy, growing better means remembering that your customers are people first, not numbers on a spreadsheet — so interact with them how and when they want. It's placing customers at the center of your business and valuing relationships, not just deals.