Tuesday, September 11, 2007

black art: funnel analysis

Do you know what the Sunshine Pump is? Sure you do, because you've had a conversation like this:

You: "How is your quarter going?"

Rep: (SET SUNSHINE_PUMP_STATUS=ON) "Great! I've got five big deals in the proposal phase, any one of which will make my quarter, and I can see a clear path to closing all five. Thanks for asking!" (SET SUNSHINE_PUMP_STATUS=OFF)

Thankfully, I don't get this these days. But in Years Past. . . I was on the receiving end of the Sunshine Pump on many an occasion.

It's one thing for sales to turn the Pump on for product management. It's entirely another for them to use it with sales. And something else entirely for sales management.

What do you do when you sense a Sunshine Pump in full operation?

On one hand, you may not know "how high the sunshine goes" in the organization, so challenging it may really threaten people, depending on who you talk to. On the other hand, if you don't challenge it, you become complicit in what amounts to professional negligence.

And no, I won't be happy with an answer of "it depends".

One sure-fire "cure" for the Pump is to engage in the black art of funnel analysis. When you have an understanding of how individual deals are flowing through the sales cycle you feel OK - but when you can talk about how Deals (with a big D) move from the earliest "identified" phase to the final "closed" or "lost" phase, you feel in control.

More on this later. I wonder how many PMs are expected to understand funnel math, much less participate in analysis of how and why deals move from phase to phase. It's pretty interesting actually.

UPDATE - In retrospect, when you ask a salesperson a glib question, odds are you'll get a glib answer. When I talk about the Sunshine Pump, what I'm referring to is a habit of individuals to only transmit good news whether that good news is truly good, only mildly good, of spurious goodness or actually non-good.

Currently playing in iTunes: Lizard Point by Brian Eno

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