Sales Funnel Stages

Episode 991: Sales Funnel Stages, with Sean Doyle

podcast photo thumbnail



View this episode on:

Sales funnel stages—Enhance your marketing strategy and drive conversions by understanding our guide on sales funnel stages.

Get to know the sales funnel stages from our expert guest today, Sean Doyle. 

Sean Doyle has drilled a deep well of unmatched expertise in helping B2B companies sell more to their most profitable customers. With experience spanning over 25 years and more than 5,000 client engagements.

Sean is CEO and principal at FitzMartin Inc, a leading consultancy focused on sales and marketing and management, sales and marketing technology services, and revenue operations.


What you’ll learn in this episode is about sales funnel stages: 

  • How FitzMartin works to take businesses beyond the “awareness” level to a deeper connection with their customers
  • Why truly understanding sales funnel stages is about early stages and late stages in the sales cycle.
  • What important lessons business owners can learn from the Ford Edsel about the value of brand awareness alone
  • How the six stages of the transtheoretical theorem mirror the steps of the typical consumer decision journey, and what key concepts we can draw from the comparison
  • How a request from a client who accounted for a huge amount of Sean’s team’s business showed the importance of late-stage marketing
  • How today’s technology allows businesses to get super granular and targeted in marketing to prospects and going far beyond the awareness level
  • Why too many sales people are in a rush to close deals far too soon rather than allowing a healthy relationship to develop through its later stages
  • Why science says that 80% of your prospects will retreat right before pulling the trigger, and what steps you can take to overcome some of the obstacles
  • Why there’s a big difference between how customers perceive gated versus ungated content, and what message each sends
  • How behavioral science is universal and applies to any situation in which you are trying to help someone make a change, from your personal life to sales prospects


Additional Resources:



Sales Funnel Stages: Full Episode Transcript


Get ready to find your recipe for success from America’s top business owners here at Onward Nation with your host Stephen Woessner.


Good morning Onward Nation, I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI. And your host. My hope for you is that now that we’re six weeks into the new year, you and your team are beginning to see some additional and perhaps even new traction inside your business, perhaps your existing clients, or getting in touch and approving some new or expanded work. And that’s awesome. Or, Holy bananas, you’re seeing new prospects raise their hands and ask you questions about how you and your team might be helpful to them in moving their business forward. So, as I thought about how we might be helpful to you during today’s episode, Onward Nation, I decided to address some key business issues that all of us have faced at one time or another and have a conversation with an expert who could share some insights and perspectives. 


So first the business issues. I want us to have a conversation about the most common barriers to B2B sales and how best to tear down the barriers. So you and your team can be even more successful at closing sales, with existing clients or new prospects. That’s awesome. So next, let’s talk through how to pinpoint the smartest Betts for growth while abandoning the majority of sales marketing and spending. There’s a reason why I named our business Predictive ROI, so let’s talk through where you should be investing your time and resources in order to get a predictable and measurable return on investment. 


And finally, let’s talk through your sales funnel too often. When I’m having a conversation with a business owner, they talk about their prospects getting stuck in the middle of their funnel, and they’re looking for ways to move them through. So, let’s shine a bright light on that today to help solve the issue. Okay. So my hope Onward Nation is that this conversation that we’re about to have with Sean Doyle is going to deliver upon all of that. That’s why I invited him to be our guest expert today so that we can learn from his insights and expertise. 


Sean is the principal at FitzMartin Inc, which is a leading consultancy focused on sales and marketing and management sales and marketing technology services and revenue operations for over 25 years and more than 5,000 client engagements. Onward Nation Sean has drilled a deep well of unmatched expertise in helping B2B companies sell more to their profitable customers. So, without further ado, welcome to Onward Nation, Sean. 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Funnel Stages: Sean Doyle’s Introduction


Good morning, Onward Nation. It’s going to be a great day. Stephen, you’ve got me excited. 


Good morning, my friend. It’s great to see you and thanks for coming in. and I’m very much looking forward to the insights and wisdom that you can share with our audience of agency owners, business coaches, strategic consultants. This is going to be a great conversation, and it will be super helpful. So, but before we do that in the litany of things that I want to throw your way before we get there, actually take us behind the curtain and tell us more about your path, your journey, 25 plus years, 5,000 engagements. That doesn’t happen by accident. So tell us a little bit more about you, and then we’ll dive in. 


No one cares about me. I just want a good idea that they can take and apply to their business today. Come on, man. Now it’s great. It’s been a great journey. And you know, one of the greatest parts of the journey is actually going to come at you as a test. One of the largest, most well-known rock and roll bands in history is U2, right? We all heard of U2. Yes. So, the Ford name of the four members, Stephen, goes ahead. 


The only name is the one Bano. And so now I know I’m, I, this is funny. So to me, I don’t mean to sound like a contrarian. I’m not actually a U2 fan. When my wife listens to this episode, it would be like, Oh my gosh, yes, you do a question. I am probably the only person on the planet that doesn’t like U2.


Well, most people then can follow up with the edge, right? So Bono in the Edge is the kind of guy who actually looks like telling people to think. I look like that, but then nobody ever can come up with Adam Clayton, the basest, or Larry Mullin, the drummer. Hmm. So what does that tell you? U2 is one of the most famous rock and roll bands, I mean, we could do this with the Rolling Stones. We could do this at a number of bands, but awareness, right? You could be the best in the world. And people still don’t know the four guys’ names. What does that tell us? So in our journey over these 25 years, 5,000 engagements, and the B2B space, we do a lot of work in that emerging middle market space, which is exciting because businesses are uncovering and discovering all these things that can be so effective. 


And they haven’t had to learn them before. They could like to call it to bludgeon their way to Sales. They can just work harder and hire another sales guy, but then they wanna start to scale, and they need to, and awareness doesn’t work anymore. So that is really where we come into play. Once you’ve discovered that your ad agency does good work, but it’s not enough. It’s essential, but it’s not sufficient. That’s where FitzMartin comes in. We’re looking at those late-stage deals, the middle-of-the-funnel deals. We’re helping you move those people. Well, past awareness, because at some point, awareness doesn’t do it anymore. 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Funnel Stages: How Knowing Your Value Drives Business Success


You can’t get the results just from awareness. You have to have it. If someone has to know you exist, but you know what someone has to know, why do you matter to them? So that’s why we don’t know the bassist’s name. And you too. I know we don’t, but does it matter to me? I’d just like the music. That’s what matters to me. That’s why it’s important to me. The edge is taken this slight political and a role bono obviously has taken a political role, right? So he’s what we know as his name. He’s the frontman, but he’s also in politics. He’s talking about my life. So now I’m going to be interested in him, maybe so, but that’s the same thing with your business. 


Do all sales funnel stages have to be unique? It’s not just rock and roll. This is the same thing with your business. You got to let me know why you matter to me, not just that you exist. So, man, we’re excited right now. We’re saying that you mentioned this time in the year; we are seeing some deal flow, and we’re seeing more quotes going around with our clients. We’re seeing more activity in the marketplace. I think there’s an optimism and hope that’s that’s Good with the new year or not the data we are seeing is not showing as many deals closing, but there is more deal flow. So it really, means there are more people that are aware of your company. There are more people asking for quotes, but there are fewer people closing. 


So that’s a related stage. Sales problem. I can’t, Stephen. I think that magic in this framework, this grid that we’ve learned over the years, is the science of behavioral change. How do you focus that science on business to help close the middle of the funnel and late-stage deals? And you know, a lot of my O I’m getting excited, and I’m just rambling about what you want to talk about. Stephen but I love Onward Nation better than I do. So what a great crowd, what a great podcast.


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework 


Sales Funnel Stages: The Key to Business Success


You are very kind. We’re excited to have you here too. And then the YouTube story example, that’s a really good one. And I love the hook back into awareness, or you’re using that as a way to illustrate that key point, because, so, and by the time that this airs, it will have been about a month or so from when I taught a workshop alongside Drew McLellan CEO of the agency management Institute and in one of the breaks or something like that, one of the participants send to me or attendees, he said to me, talking about goals, and one of their goals for clients was awareness. And like, you, you gotta be careful with that. And so we talk that through, and we’ll. Why? Because, I mean, you can help your client achieve quote, unquote awareness, and whatever those KPIs are that you’re measuring awareness. 


But at the end of the day, if they don’t move prospects through to a return on investment, like close deals, you still get fired. Right? 


Exactly. With the deuce and your northerner kind of near Detroit, right? So, the Edsel is a famous story. You know, everybody in the Nation, I mean, Ford was the deal in the only deal. There are hundreds and hundreds of little car companies, but Ford was the big player. Then it rolled out at the Edsel, not a sole, I mean, it was billions in American US dollars today’s dollars, right? That they spent, and it didn’t work. They didn’t sell, and they didn’t close deals. So everybody knew it existed. They just didn’t know why it mattered to them. And there are other things; it was a weird design. 


What’s the first focus on the sales funnel stages? We haven’t focused on the customers, and they haven’t built something that matters to them. And then there are all kinds of problems, and awareness isn’t the whole game. So yeah. So what are you doing with that? How do you start moving forward? How do you help prospects? So there’s a million people I’m looking over your shoulder, and I see you’ve got frameworks. Who is the framework all over your walls? Well, in 2002, I got really, really sick when somebody introduced me to this book called Changing for Good, and in this book was an idea called the trans theoretical theorem of behavioral change. 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Funnel Stages: The Transtheoretical Model Explained


Three scientists in Norcross, in DiClemente we’re interested in, and no, I can’t spell any of those either. They were interested in why he would try to change his behavior. And one methodology would work, but not another. Then, Sean would try the thing that worked for Stephen, but it wouldn’t work for me. But the second thing that didn’t work for you worked for me. Why, why is that? Why were people able to change their behavior in different ways? What was the common thread through all of that? And what they came up with was this transtheoretical theorem. So, the transtheoretical theorem States that there are six steps. We all go through pre-promoting, not even thinking about something to advocate. 


What are the sales funnel stages? And that sounds to me like a consumer decision journey, right? Pre-contemplation: I haven’t thought about your company and that step, and then I’m an advocate and telling Stephen, Hey, you got to, by the way that you might call it, and remember I’m talking B2B thinking here, I’m not talking with Coca-Cola in Ford and Utah. Those are good, fun, broad examples because everybody can identify with them, but I’m talking about large capital expenditure, wonky, weird B2B stuff. This, this is the same pattern. Yes, but there’s multiple, right? Yeah. There are. That’s great. And this is true. So, all decision-makers have to go through those stages before they become consumers or buyers of that product or service. 


And the key here is not the stages, right? So it was reading this book called Changing for Good. By the way, I could go on Amazon, buy it, and use it as cheap Reid, the front half of it. It’s not my book while you’re on Amazon. You could buy it, my book is called Shift, but that’s another story. I’m not here to sell books, and I want to help people. So, if you go through these stages, any decent marketer understands for stages, but here’s the thing. The science says there are nine processes that are impactful at specific steps or stages of that journey. So, for example, we’ve been picking on consciousness-raising. 


That’s the science mindset around what we would call awareness in marketing. Well, it is the effective early stage that even kind of into the second stage, but it’s absolutely meaningless when we move into what the scientists call preparation, it’s meaningless. When the science moves into what, what is that? The buyer moves into what the scientists call to action. Then you want to get into helping. The relationship is a private and public commitment methodology. You want to get in to counter. You want to get into the environmental controls. You want to get rewards for positive behavior. Wow. I mean, how many marketers do you know that? 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Funnel Stages: Understanding the Middle and Late-Stage Processes of Business Success


Talk about that stuff. That’s all middle and late-stage processes. Those are the things. The process is that matter. Now, those five that I just mentioned have no meaning earlier. One awareness works when social liberation works, when emotional arousal works, and when rational re-evaluation works; that is all in the early stages. Those five things I just mentioned don’t make a difference. One of those other four makes a difference. So I was listening to a reading, actually, I was reading this and thinking, this is it. This is the answer to why. When I worked with a specific client, and we did good work, we made money. 


We were a big firm, all that kind of stuff. But sometimes stuff works, and sometimes stuff doesn’t. It was because we didn’t understand these processes. We didn’t know how to, I didn’t have this framework. Like those frameworks over your shoulder, I know your advice is probably good right there. It’s not wonky. It doesn’t change. Step two step. Well, so right about this time, as this epiphany was happening, dare I call it, that we were going, huh? We just got this call from our largest client, the gorilla client in our business, 60, 70% of our business. Oh, wow. You just said, Hey. Yeah. Oh yeah. It was terrifying because you know that everybody who’s ever had a gorilla, a client loves the money, right? 


It is horrifying because you really become a department, and you know and accept all the risks. It’s brilliant for the gorilla. So we thought this guy has, this client had called ’em, and actually, it was an SVP of a bank or a woman named Louise. And when Louise called, she said, Hey, we hired this agency. About two years ago, we gave them 1500 names of prospects, commercial banking, and treasury management. And they, their job is to close. Those deals work with our salespeople. They call them relationship managers in banking, and they fail. So we fired them. 


So we hired another agency last year and gave them the same 1500 names. Guess what? I’m going to write you’re fired. So now my guerrilla clients saying that you want the 1500 names? 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Funnel Stages: How Strategic Focus Yields $380 Million in Sales


What we did was a terrifyingly brilliant moment in my career. We put up the stages on the wall, looked at these processes, identified everything, and it had been done. Where have they spent more time? 


Hang on. Just one second. I want to make sure that when you said that you put the processes up on the wall, you are talking about the nine processes. So this is coming out of, like, you put the trans theoretical serum, like you mapped that out and all right. 


Should we proceed with the sales funnel stages? Okay. Right. And I am actually Stephen to your guests, and I am actually your guests to your listeners, too. Your Nation, your followers. If they’ll come to Okay. It helps you or your listeners download this; it’s not an intellectual property that I’ve developed. In fact, I reached out to the scientist the last year. I really want to talk to them about what they’ve done and share what we’re doing with our science. It’s amazing. Yeah. Haven’t heard back yet, but if you’re listening, out there are scientists. If you’re in the nation, call me, please. So when we mapped this stuff out, we had, we identified What since 2002, I’ve seen as a pattern that the bank, the agency’s the investment of time and money was mostly early stage stuff. 


It helped people go from pre-contemplation to contemplation. Well, these 1500 people knew the relationship manager. They knew the products and services in banking. That’s easy cause it’s a parody, right? Every bank has the same thing, so they keep piling on more and more awareness. Well, that didn’t help. So all we did was move the money in time, in the later stage, to help people move from contemplating to preparation and to preparation to action. The next step is to exchange relationships. So we are focused on helping relationships. We focused on private rather than public commitments, countering environmental controls, and as a result, we closed $380 million of loan deposit services in four weeks, it was amazing, and honestly, we were like — wait a minute, we have $180 million in four weeks. Right? 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Funnel Stages: How Strategic Marketing Closes $20 Million Lifetime Deals


No, that’s crazy. So, I mean, what does that tell you? It tells you the people that are out there buying; they were buying from other people, and they just didn’t understand or know why and where to buy and what the reason for buying from these people is. And so since that journey, we have been using this process since probably two months ago; at this point, we helped a client who had one big company that wanted to close. It was a meaningful deal that we focused on. This methodology works tightly with sales. And that’s one of the keys to our success, which is working closely with sales, understanding them sitting in their meetings, and leading some of their meetings. 


So we were able to help them close a $20 million lifetime deal. It was something that sales guys had been pursuing for years. Then, six months went by, and they closed the deal. So what was happening well? In that case, we actually built a website for that deal, right? I mean, they built a website for that deal. Did you hear that yet, Stephen? 


Because you know that, then tell the stakeholders about the sales funnel stages. I like that that illustrates how special that particular deal is to everyone. Yeah. And it leaned into the pain points specifically. So, as marketers go, if you push back, you start looking at the way marketing has to work. At some point, we have to generalize what people’s pain points are because we’ve had a reach of a million people well, and B2B, we may need to reach a hundred thousand people. Well, on a deal, maybe we need to reach 15 people. So now we can get granular. You know, we can look at specific pain points. And with technology today, we’re able to deliver a message to the CEO, to the CFO, to the production manager, to the procurement guy, to the di, whatever the mechanisms are at our prospects, our client’s prospects. 


We can deliver specific messages to specific people. And none of it is awareness. None of it is saying, did you know, we exist? It’s all saying you’ve got a little bit of hyperbole here, but you’ve got a just-in-time delivery problem. And your current vendor is failing. We have a 98.9% success rate for our just-in-time delivery models. You want to talk to us, right? You know what I want to fix that problem? Well, that weighs that path. That’s not saying hey our company. 


Hello. You know, it’s a very, very different game. And while it’s a powerful Hey, Onward Nation, I want to take a quick break from the Episode to share a practical and tactical resource with you. When we first released our book profitable podcasting, it became a number one new release on Amazon in a lesson of 18 hours. Well, that was nearly three years ago, and we’re still getting great feedback on Hill. Helpful. The book has been to business owners just like you, as they launched a podcast to build their business. When I think of strategy, you could be applying right now during these challenging times, having your own show, which will be a conduit that you could use to teach and share your insights with your community. 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Funnel Stages: Unleashing the Power of Sales Enablement in B2B Marketing


Launching a podcast and growing your existing show really should be at the top of your list. I want to help you get started by giving you access to a free chapter of my book. Just go to And you’ll get the chapter where I show you how to confront and overcome your three biggest obstacles to success. And we will send it right to your inbox. This is so awesome. And I know, like in the, in the green room, we talked about barriers, like common barriers. And I know you want to share some of those, but as soon as you just walked us through a couple of those examples, I see the barriers already, at least a couple. 


So some of my question to you is what are some of the others, because I know you’ve studied this. So what are some of the other common barriers that you see a marketer’s being blocked by, as it relates to B2B sales? Sure. Marketers, I think that was it. What are the greatest barriers is sales that sounds crazy. Right. But I’m really interested in this idea of sales enablement. 


Because marketing tends to focus on early-stage stuff. We’ve talked about that over and over again, so we might call that demand generation. Well, I’m seeing hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of companies who have bought into this demand gen thing, they bought marketing automation technology. They bought into digital advertising, and they are still looking at how the revenue is going, nothing changed. 


What happened? Well, it’s because you did the first two steps. You helped your people move from pre-consultation into contemplating and from contemplating, maybe, to preparation, but then you didn’t help them to act and exchange relationships. So you’re halfway to the journey, but we have spent so much money already in effort, time it dah, dah, dah. Yeah. And you are halfway, and I used to run marathons. And back in the day, the joke was that when you hit 20 miles, I remember a marathon is 26.2 miles. And if you are a marathoner, you understand the point too is critical, not 26 miles, 26.2. And we did the joke was that when you hit 20 miles, you are halfway. So it’s, and that’s the kinda, of what happens in sales, right? 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Funnel Stages: Understanding Sales Enablement in B2B Marketing


You get halfway, you’re almost there, and you give us a little wider. You give up. There is a natural antagonism between sales and marketing. Why is that antagonism there? Well, this concept of sales enablement gives marketers a great way to understand the needs of sales. What is it that sales want? What is it? The sales needs? What is it that sales is doing? You know, last year I went out to Colorado to ride with a client. Gosh, maybe it was two years ago, but I sat in a truck with a sales guy rode his territory, and had lunch with the prospect. And we did a cold call. I’m still astonished by how cool sales guys are about, hey, that guy looks like he could buy our stuff. 


I’ve never seen that company. Let’s go walk in the door. I’m like, Oh, what do you mean no appointment? You know? And he just walked in the door and met these people. It is just the guts sales have that are amazing. And the confidence they have is just this incredible. So, man, marketers, get out and understand sales. You’ve heard that before, but do it; just do it, and go ride with sales. If you haven’t done it, then you are relegating yourself to early-stage stuff. And guess what? The executive team once sees and respects. And it gives attribution to the stuff that happens right before the deal. It was close. That’s why sales get the money that you need. That’s why sales get the resources you need in the company; they see that attribution. 


They see that connection. So sales enablement allows on a marketer, and you’re, don’t even know how to, I think your question. It really was like, what do the clients see as barriers, and they’ll get there? But the marketing, you’ve got to understand sales and enablement; it just roots around sales enablement. There’s an amazing technology stack that we work in that sales enablement category. They tend, in my opinion as they tend to still look and feel and smell a little bit like marketing. Umm, so go talk to the SVP of sales, go visit it, go ride with sales. Understand to read this book you read, changing for good, apply to the science. Understand that it’s not time to ask to close deals. So on the client’s side, what do the clients do wrong? 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


[H3] Sales Funnel Stages: The Art of Building Helping Relationships in B2B Marketing


I think they asked to close deals way too soon. Just because I gave you my name doesn’t mean call me. And in fact, I’ll believe in it. I was looking at a piece of technology of the day, and I wanted to watch this webinar, but there wasn’t even a webinar. It’s a whole demo, like a five-minute demo. Oh, I regretted it; I’ve gotten 15 emails and two calls. I had it was like this. I went and unsubscribed. I’m genuinely interested in this company and what they’re doing. It’s good stuff. I couldn’t take it. I’m not ready to buy right now. And it feels, it feels pressure or feels yucky. It just it’s terrible. Yeah. What I need the scientists would call a helping relationship. 


Now, marketers can use some early-stage techniques like emotional arousal and rational re-evaluation while the helping relationship is still in place. So the idea of people going through change is they are looking forward and they are still looking backward. When we don’t understand that this is one of the aha’s of proton in Norcross, in DiClemente, science is looking forward, and looking backward occurs at the same time. Right? So to think about when I wanted to lose weight and get into shape, well, I’m looking forward, and I see that the body I could have and a healthy lifestyle I could have at the same time, I’m looking backward at the coconut cake that I know is at the barbecue joint. 


It’s about two miles from my house right now. And I love that coconut cake. It’s really good. You know, if that’s common, right? What happens is if you’re buying a $2 million big CapEx stuff too, you’re looking back, you know what I’m doing now? It’s okay. Enough. We built a $50 million company doing things, by the way. We do things now. Okay. 


So, so, so hang on just one second because this looking forward, looking backward, I think that’s pretty profound if I’m tracking with you here because as I went back to my notes, okay. So the nine processes are that impactful. Do I understand correctly? As I’m navigating those nine processes or stages, or however you want to define it, looking for looking backward, then that tells me that the nine processes are right and not linear. Right? Fair enough right now. 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Funnel Stages: Understanding Customer Behavior in B2B Sales


And then if I move on to the next one, I could still maybe my needs change, whatever. I can step back into a different world or into the previous. Right? 


Right. Absolutely. In fact, I will tell you Predictive ROI is good, but the other side of Predictive ROI is a Predictive retreat. You can use this, Stephen. This is good stuff. Predictive retreat. You can expect 80% of your prospects to retreat. That means 20% of, well, first of all, if you could close 20% of the prospects, that’d be massive. Predictive ROI, right? Of course, the science is saying 80% of your prospects are retreating, right? Is that correct at the stage of making that change and behavior now? 


Yeah, because they had a crummy experience like you did with this five-minute demo or that’s just natural, right? 


Behavior. It’s natural behavior. It could be a million different things, but ultimately, is it not easier to keep doing things the way you’re doing them now? Of course, the status quo was super easy. We talk about that in sales, and you hear lots of books, but the status quo is that I don’t have any competitors. Yeah. You do the status quo. We’ve all offered that advice and it’s true. This is behavioral science, which is saying that’s what’s going on now. There’s another, there’s a whole, another dialog. The day Stephen will get into it. Guess what your customers are looking back to your customers after you changed your behavior, and you still look back. 


People are still retreating. So why would your customers, after they’ve just made the change, look back well, because we were, we think there’s always going to be a better way to do things. And maybe even the what’s the devil in the devil, you can die out of there’s, there’s, there’s all kinds of reasons for customers to retreat. So, customer success is another whole dialog that the science forms. It was talking about those barriers in the middle of the stage. So this is a sales enablement. You have to help people understand. So keep people emotionally excited about making the change, keep giving them rational information, but then leverage helping relationships. 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Funnel Stages: Building Private Commitments for Success


So, sales have been taught. Consultative sales has been taught for a long time. And this is what that is, right? Helping relationships, or is it helping consultative sales? Now, here’s the aha from the science: I’d say private commitments before public commitments. So when you’re helping me, what do I want to do? So, Stephen, you’re trying to sell me. Predictive ROI: There are five people on my leadership team. If you ask me to gather all five people to make this decision, what am I going to do? Right. 


I guess if you haven’t made up your mind that I, in front of that group, am going to honor you, be aligned with you, or not argue, it will actually be helpful. Then you’re not going to put me in front of if you’re five stakeholders, 


Right? So if you don’t, don’t embarrass me right by the number one. If I think you’re going to embarrass me, I don’t care how good you think that you can sell the best mouse trap ever, and in no way. But even before that, what if I don’t know that your solution is a fit? Absolutely. We don’t want to be the guy that brings to the leadership team and that the leadership team doesn’t have to be the executive team. It could just be the groups of people that make an impact on this decision. So before I do that, you’ve gotta help me make a private commitment. So, Stephen, you would want to bring me a diagnostic and say, Sean, we’re going to look at Predictive ROI and how that would apply to your company. FitzMartin And yada yada yada. And here are the steps we’re going to go through. 


The first step is just you and me. It’s just the two of us because of the safety there. Right? What does that sound like? It almost sounds like counseling, doesn’t it? Yeah. It’s just the two of us as a safety. Hear it sounds 


This is a sort of situation that maybe all of us can identify with. It sounds very much like dating courting. Right? You go on a few dates before a potential person or a potential spouse or significant other meet your parents or family. 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Funnel Stages: The Role of Safety and Commitment in Closing B2B Deals


I’ve got to have safety, and I’ve got to have intent, right? You didn’t take that significant other two years to meet other friends or parents until there was an intent. Right? So that’s a signal of intense, great deals. Not closed. Right? Because of that, in the case of us playing out there, I’ve got four other people. So once you’ve convinced me, and I take it now, I’ve got to go publicly with your offering two, the other stakeholders or to the significant others or whatever a family would ever do. And then that’s a whole nother situation. But so think about this. Let’s go back to that diagnostic. Okay. Marketers that are listening, have you equipped the companies you’re working for? 


Are you equipped with diagnostics? Have you equipped Sales with ways to help those who aren’t trying to close deals? Have you been free with your information guided ungated content is a big thing right now. A lot of dialog about that. And Why, well, when you gate content, you’re asking me to make a commitment. I’m not ready to make a commitment yet. I don’t want to give you this, that, that tech company that I was looking at the other day, I didn’t want a relationship. I just wanted the information. So if they had given me the helping relationship I needed, maybe sent me one email that said, if you want more help, if you want an insight, if you want the one-to-one, I will walk you through this otherwise. 


Yeah. Or, and, or I shouldn’t say, and or, and offered you some additional ungated content, some additional helpful resources, right? That would truly be meaningful to you. You use the word if they came to you as the helping relationship; the context to this scenario is completely different, right? 


It’s a completely different And. Do I understand that they’re going to sell me something if it’s a fit? Well, of course, because I was looking, and there’s something about this technology that got my interest and something about it. It would solve a problem in my life. So, of course, that would close the deal if it made sense. Anyway, you get the idea is here. So marketing, how have you helped? Have you built a diagnostic process? Now, that’s not on your website and is not in your brand and advertising. It’s not these diagnostics that you are equipping sales with tools. So, I guess Stephen would be the big thing. In answer to your question marketing tends to think about outbound dialogues. 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Funnel Stages: The Deer Analogy in B2B Sales and Marketing


Okay? If you’re not equipping your sales force with tools that are specific to the needs of a prospect before they buy in the late stage, then you’re not properly serving your organization. Are your clients business owners? If you are not demanding this of marketing, you’re not leading marketing well, and your agency probably doesn’t know how to do this. And your marketing team internally doesn’t know how to do this. Especially in this emerging middle market, lower middle market space, really sophisticated, larger organizations often do all of this intuitively, or they’ve learned. But man, what a way, what a lever for ROI, you know. 


Well, so a few weeks ago, I mentioned, or I mentioned, how I was teaching with Drew, and he has this really great analogy that I think fits what you’re walking us through. And that is, he calls it his dear analogy. And that is, there are prospects for Onward Nation, which are currently hidden in the Woodline. You know, let’s say that your backyard leads up to a wood line, and eventually, you’d love to be able to open your curtains in the morning in your kitchen and see a whole bunch of deer or a family of deer eating out of your backyard. Right? And then, in a way, or in order to make that happen, you start setting out some deer food on the edge of your yard, right outside the woods. Eventually, once trust is built, they come out and start eating the delicious, do-your food. 


Great. And then you start getting closer and closer to your house. Unfortunately, what most business owners do is that as soon as they see the deer, they run after the deer, which is exactly what happened to Sean the other day when he said, yeah, I want that demo. He got pounced on, and now he will likely never go back to the company. He already said they unsubscribed. And that’s what most of us do. We don’t recognize that it may take a day or a decade for us to establish the helping relationship that Sean is describing. Right. 


Let’s go back to your dating analogy. Stephen is incredible. Right? If on your first date, you’re married, as you’ve mentioned earlier, if you were married, if on your first date, you told your wife everything about yourself, your entire history, everything you wanted to do in the future, the whole thing is just the first date. What would have happened? 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Funnel Stages: The Key to Successful Sales and Marketing


She would have been overwhelmed, scared, and said a thing. No, and we’re done. Right. So it’s there. I do think there’s an analogy there to whether it’s dear or the dating app, and maybe we should write a book or something. So selling is dating, but it isn’t interesting though, because it’s a great illustration of how oftentimes maybe one of the barriers that we erect is by doing that ourselves, that we, we just get so impatient and we think it’s about us. 


And it’s not about us. It’s not about you. Yeah. You know, and I know this is going to sound a little bit like selling myself. So I hope everything I’ve said has been helpful, but the idea here is that you can apply all of these ideas by yourself. You can figure this out. There is nothing. We have not invented anything new, but Stephen, what are you? You know, the aha for me was that behavioral science is about people, and people are not changing. People have been the same and remain the same. And this works, whether you’re trying to help a child change behavior or a prospect change behavior or an adult change, a behavior science just codified by the way we all change. 


So that’s how I can go with confidence. We just went through a $300 million privately held international software company and I can go to them and say, I know I can make you money because this isn’t my idea. This isn’t me as some flaky marketing guy or, as I like to call us marketing schmucks or not some marketing shmuck, that’s just got as idea’s you know, this is science was, what we’re doing is we’re applying the science. That’s codified, proven repeatable two sales and marketing. It’s not that we’re not smart. We are; we’ve got the same thing about it—this way. 


Every advertising agency that’s ever been hired. Every consultant that’s ever been hired, we all have the same exact set of talent. We can hire the same people. I can hire the same people at FitzMartin as any of my competitors can hire a nurse. So it’s not the one group over another group that just has this magic where the magic people now are incredibly talented people. Sure could be. Are there dozens and dozens of Steve Jobs out there? No, that’s okay. Got it. Beyond that, we’ve got the same art. The directors are the same web developers. So you’ve got to have something. 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Funnel Stages: The Power of Proven Frameworks


If I was hiring a consultant far as hiring Predictive ROI or FitzMartin I’m going to listen and look at the frameworks that you can repeatably apply so that I know what your advice you’re giving me is bigger than you. I like you to Stephen but I want to know that your processes are bigger than you and more proven than just what you’ve done. 


It has been so awesome. And you’re right. This has been helpful. A conversation. So I know that you are hoping that it would be, and it definitely has been. So, thank you for that. I know we’re quickly running out of time, and we covered a lot, but before we go, before we close out and say goodbye, is there anything you think we might have missed any Additional or final advice and recommendations you’d like to share? And then please tell Onward Nation the best way to connect with you, Sean. 


Oh, sure. Ah, well, anything you’ve missed, I’d just, as I mentioned earlier, read this book, have a framework, and have something that’s bigger than yourself. That’s reliable. It’s repeatable. You know that if you didn’t hear it and business owners and executives if you didn’t hear me say quit fooling around with marketing and treating it like art, quit fooling around with outward bound. Only quit fooling around with marketing technology and saying marketing doesn’t work. That’s nonsense. Marketing does work. Marketing can be predictable, and marketing can generate ROI through attribution. It’s hard to have my attribution, but you can do it and quit fooling around, and they have higher expectations. 


Elevate what you want out of marketing and look for people who can deliver it. And it’s out there. It’s probably the consistent thing that I struggle with is executives who don’t don’t believe because they’ve never experienced it. So, it’s true marketing can work. Marketing can be effective, but look for when you interviewed you, in fact, in the book shift, and I’m not here to sell books. Yes. You can go to Amazon by Shift it’s 19 processes I wrote the book around 19 processes and ideas that business executives who are in charge of marketing, but never been trained for the job, how they can apply it. So you can get that book. 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Sales Funnel Stages: Last Bit of Advice and Connect with Sean


It’s the cheapest way you can get my advice, frankly, and get it and go from there. You can come to FitzMartin, and I will point you to the website and all that stuff. If you want to learn more about, add that if you want some free help. There’s a bunch of stuff there, including some videos that more deeply explain this process and the framework. Get it and try it. Just go for it, man. It’s great. Some of you will want some help thinking through this; we do remote work. We do all kinds of different ways. Our advisory services group has almost always been the start of a relationship for us. 


And there are some safe ways we can do that. We do a Sales barrier audit, and that’s a helping relationship. Stephen now has insight into helping relationships with a private commitment. It’s a way that we can look at your marketing and sales and identify in a quick manner where the barriers to sales are, and we can hand it back to you, and you can figure it out yourself. It’s a great process is a great journey. So, hey, I’m just starting to feel like a salesman. Hey right. You shouldn’t, you should know. 


And I feel like as a salesperson there are, and here’s, here’s why because I think what you just did was you illustrated a blueprint for how to step into a relationship with a prospective client, as opposed to pouncing on the dear or asking you the first day off, Hey, do you want to know what are you doing next Saturday night? If you ain’t got nothing going on with to get married, right? I mean, you just map that out of how to step into relationships, which is really great. So. I also love how you said to elevate what you want and set higher expectations. That’s really cool So okay. Onward Nation, here’s the deal. And the key is that no matter how many times you go back and relisten to Sean’s words of wisdom, which I sure hope that you do, the key is you have to take what he so expertly shared with you in generously shared with you, take it and apply it. 


You have to take it and apply it. So listening to the words of wisdom, of course, that’s important, and learning from him, but now put it into action. And when you do, it’s the predictable, measurable, repeatable results. And Sean, I am grateful that you said yes. Thank you for coming on to the show as our expert guests and helping us all move our businesses to that next level. Thank you so much. My friend, we enjoyed it, I enjoyed it. It has been fun meeting you. It was good to meet a good northerner who shoves snow every day. Well, I’m enjoying 60-degree weather and sunshine. So, at least I got to rub that Onward Nation; what a great podcast. It’s a great way to listen and learn and improve your business in a predictable way. 


Awesome. It’s been my pleasure. This episode is complete. So head over to for show notes and more foods to fuel your ambition. Continue to find your recipe for success here at Onward Nation. 


Elevate your understanding of sales funnel stages and win new customers by following our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework

Fill Your Sales Pipeline Q&A

LIVE Wednesdays at 1:00 pm Eastern / 12 Noon Central

Sell with Authority Podcast

The Sell with Authority Podcast is for agency owners, business coaches, and strategic consultants who are looking to grow a thriving, profitable business that can weather the constant change that seems to be our world’s reality.

Follow Us