A Healthy Funnel is a Happy Funnel: Building a Productive Sales Funnel to Increase Lead Quality

In sales, your bottom of the funnel metrics are directly influenced by top of the funnel quality. To keep your bottom funnel metrics high, you need to fill the top of your funnel with high quality leads.

What might seem like an obvious concept to some is still foreign to others – funnel health is pretty much the most important piece of your sales function. Fill the top of your funnel with high quality leads, and more qualified opportunities will come out at the bottom. You can call it “Trickle Down Funnel-Nomics” (or not, I would understand). The idea makes sense – higher quality leads flow through the funnel at a faster pace. The question then becomes: How do I increase my lead quality?

Take a look at the funnel pictured below. Each “L” that goes in is a “lead” – the thing we need to increase the quality of. These leads have a variety of different sources, and for these purposes we can weight each source with an arbitrary value:


  • Leads with a value of 1: These are the leads that come from a massive purchase list. Prior to reaching out, your SDRs have no information about the quality of these accounts. You don’t know if they’re the right people to contact, if they can make the decision on technology evaluations or if they have a need for your product or service. They tend to take a lot more work to push through the funnel.
  • Leads with a value of 4: These are the MQL’s your marketing team generates. Some of them might drop into the 1 designation, but a good portion of them have taken some action on your website or interacted with your content that’s elevated them to this status. You have a bit more information on what it is they’re looking for or who would make the decision. That makes them a bit easier to push along, but it comes with needing to wade through the bad ones to find the quality leads.
  • Leads with a value of 7: These are the leads that come from your smart target list. If your team executes an Account-Based strategy then you’ll have a list of target accounts and contacts generated through the combined efforts of your marketing and product teams. These are accounts that would benefit from your product / service and have a more compelling reason to take a call. These are easier to push along the funnel because you can easily see the justification for them to take next steps.
  • Leads with a value of 10: These are the leads that get hand-picked by your SDR team. After doing their own research and finding trigger events they’ve compiled a list of the absolute best accounts to reach out to. These are the easiest to push along because more often than not, these accounts have an active project and need for your product / service.

The leads with a heavier weight move through the funnel a higher pace – which make sense. It’s a lot easier to create a business case for your hand-picked leads and target accounts versus purchased leads or MQL’s, mainly because you have more information. The key to matriculating a Lead through your funnel is the level of information you have. In this sense Information = Quality, and the more information you have the higher quality (or weight) the Lead will have.

So the question remains, how do I increase my Lead quality? Essentially that translates to “how do I get more information about the leads I’m handing to my SDR team?” The answer is different for each organization, but in general shifting your outbound strategy to an Account-Based one tends to be the answer. With the Account-Based approach you’ll see more of the 7’s and 10’s come in from your SDR team. Sure you’ll have a mix of 1’s and 4’s in there as well, but when the 7’s and 10’s outnumber them the bottom of the funnel will reflect that.

Every once in awhile you’ll find a diamond in the rough; a lead that starts out with a 1 or 4 classification, but flies through the funnel. You have to remember that information isn’t everything, but it is the deciding factor in how fast Lead pass through the funnel. As always, no strategy or philosophy is a fit for every organization. Asses the current health of your sales funnel to see if it needs some retooling, you could always use some faster moving opportunities! Remember, a healthy funnel is a happy funnel – and a happy funnel means a happy sales team.

Director of Marketing

AJ is the Director of Marketing for demandDrive, a leading demand generation firm for tech companies in the Boston area. He's the main contributor to their blog and heads up all campaign creation for both inbound and outbound efforts. As someone relatively new to the marketing world, AJ is focused on creating content the resonates with established professionals and up-and-coming writers like himself.
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