Now that each customer is more valuable than ever, and we must strive more diligently to develop and nurture sustainable customer relationships, it’s time to modify our buying funnel to reflect respect for relational customers who’ve placed their trust in us. We suggest a modified buying funnel that we now call The Fellowship Funnel.

The Fellowship Funnel

Today, we need to stop thinking of a customer taking action as the end of the funnel. In truth, we are just beginning our relationship with that client.

Have you ever calculated the lifetime value of a customer?

Here’s the modern buying funnel—where the sale begins the relationship:


Modernizing The Buying Funnel

For good fellowship with your community of customers, you must first not simply sell to them but delight them! As you think about your customer’s journey, think about places you can add delight to their experience.

Once you’ve opened (as opposed to closed) a sale, you may now begin to befriend your customer. What ways can you connect with them, help them, offer them assistance, or educate them? How can your company be the kind of friend a friend would like to have?

As our fellowship deepens with our friends, we begin to give them extra benefits. We play favorites (more on that in a little bit). Just like frequent flyer and traveler programs, we reward loyalty with perks and privileges.

And, as a friend, you may suggest other goods and services you believe would help or delight your friend. Notice how words matter: We are no longer up-selling or cross-selling, but rather we’re looking for opportunities that our friends might benefit from.

Finally, at last, we become a company in such solid fellowship with our customers that they proudly recommend us to like-minded, like-hearted friends who share their—and our—values.

But notice something: In each stage of The Fellowship Funnel, we have active, imperative verbs… UNTIL… we get to the point where it’s time for referrals. That is entirely up to our customers, but because we didn’t stop at the sale and because we continued to deepen our relationship with that customer, we greatly increase the likelihood of our customer introducing us to friends.

Where Sales Resistance Is Born

In our combined 50-plus years of doing this, we’ve learned sales resistance and loss of repeat and referral customers comes from one of two places:

  1. When you get twitchy/pushy/aggressive and try to make people jump too far too fast in The Fellowship Funnel. Smart people and good customers are rarely convinced quickly. You want to woo your customers and build lifelong relationships with them. One-night stands rarely work out for either party.
  2. You become—or revert to becoming—That Guy.

Remember him? He’s the guy who makes it about himself. He forgets to always—ALWAYS—put the other person’s hopes and fears and wants and needs ahead of his own.