An Abbreviated Guide to Building, Training and Scaling an Enterprise Sales Team, Part II: The Parts of a Funnel

Who Should Talk to the Prospect and When?

In an early-stage startup, the answer is YOU. There’s no one else. As your startup matures, the go-to-market side of the organization needs to specialize. It’s best to think of this as a buying journey or more traditionally, as a funnel. In the above image, a prospect will start in the upper left and over time, move through the process as they learn more about your product, decide that it’s a good fit for their needs, and lastly, to purchase your product.

This post has very little to do with actual sales, but it’s important for sales leaders to have an idea of the complete picture of a go-to-market organization who owns what in a buying cycle.

Parts of a Funnel:

Top of Funnel Marketing and Community Management: 

Success Metric: lead count

Quality Metric: job title, role, and engagement 

The goal of these teams is to generate as many leads (contact information) for the demand generation function.

Typically the way organizations acquire leads is via things like their user community, events, list-buying, newsletter subscriptions, or forms on your website. The top of funnel team hands these leads over to a demand generation team. The handoff will vary from organization to organization, but the important part is to have quantifiable metrics for what is considered a “qualified lead” that the demand generation function should action.


Demand Generation / Sales Development:

Success Metric: opportunity count

Quality Metric: sales cycle length, percentage of ops that regress

The objective of the demand generation and sales development teams is to help a lead decide if your product is worth evaluating and that they want to engage with your sales team. There are lots of better posts on demand generation and sales development written by experts– the high order bit is we want to be talking to the right people in our target organization profiles at the right time. Where/who/when will be determined by your type of product and your target buyer.  The most important thing a sales leader can do it to frequently pass honest feedback up the funnel to marketing/demand gen on why certain prospects are good or bad fit.


Success Metric: Revenue (ARR or Bookings) | Net New Logos (For early stage startups)

Quality Metric: Renewal Rate, ACV (annual contract value), sales cycle length

We’ll talk a lot more about the art of enterprise sales in later posts.


Customer Success:

Success Metric: Renewal Rate 

Quality Metric: Expansion Revenue, NPS (not solely responsible, but a great CS team will lead to a high NPS score)

To quote Dave Kellogg: “Finding your own hunter/farmer metaphor is hard.  Boards hate double compensation and love splitting renewals from new business.  But what about upsell?  Which model is right for you?  Should you have hunters and farmers?   Hunters in a zoo?  Farmers with shotguns?” In the new recurring revenue paradigm, Customer Success is becoming a critical capability, equally deserving of a seat on the e-staff alongside your VP Sales and VP Marketing. The right balance of how much technical support rep vs farmer vs hunter is function of your product’s stickiness as well as how competitive your market is. (Aside: hunters and farmers are analogies used to describe sales rep personas. A hunter is typically seen as a hyper-aggressive new logo chaser while a farmer is seen as a more relationship builder/renewal manager for your current install base). The most simple view of it is: you never want your farmers competing against your competitor’s hunters.

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