Iliyana's Blog

The Funnel is Dead. Long Live the Flywheel!

[fa icon="calendar"] 11-Sep-2018 10:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva

funnel to flywheel

The funnel is dead. 

Say what? 

Yup, that funnel that you've been using for decades in your marketing and sales to generate traffic and then convert and close leads into customers is dead. 

Why is it dead? Because the funnel uses a linear approach and as our VP of Marketing Jon Dick says

"Funnels lose the energy you put into them once you reach the bottom... Funnels produce customers, but don’t consider how those customers can help you grow. And all the momentum you built acquiring that customer? Gone. Each day, each month, and each quarter, we have to start new."

In an internal meeting at HubSpot, Jon futher explained how: 

The problem with most companies is that they have built their company designed with my dad in mind and not me in mind. In a world where customers' main source of info was vendors, you thought of your business like a funnel. In a world where customer's main source of info is other customers, you think of your business like a flywheel that spins at the rate of your customer's delight. If you want to grow better in 2018, you need to match your business to the modern buyer, throw away the funnel and embrace the flywheel.

The Need for a New Growth Model

At our INBOUND conference last week in Boston that amassed 24,000+ marketing, sales and customer success professionals, our CEO Brian Halligan spoke about the new growth model for businesses. 

This growth model evolves around the flywheel that represents a circular process where customers feed business growth.

The more energy you add to the flywheel, the faster it'll spin. 

The reason why the flywheel makes sense in today's world is because marketing and sales are no longer the loudest voices that influence buying decisions. It's customers' voices that do so.  

Data proves that. Trust in sales and marketing people is at an all-time low - at 5%. But people trust their peers. 

Customer Experience Determines the Success of Your Business

The fundamental problem with the funnel is that it shows the customers as an output whereas customers nowadays are an input.

The beginning of the buying process has changed. It's worth-of-mouth now that drives the majority of new customers. 

The death of the funnel is not the end of sales and marketing. They just need to adjust their energy and let the flywheel capture, store and release it in a much more efficient way. 

Why the flywheel works is because it doesn't just explain the needs you have as a business for the month or the quarter, but digs into the entirety of the customer journey. 

The 3 Key Flywheel Ingredients 

To make the flywheel work, you need 3 things: 

  • forces that spin growth designed around delighting customers not closing customers
  • no friction so that it can spin easily - instead of full services, 9 to 5, buy first your business should move to self serve, 24 x 7, try first. If you want to build a great customer experience, your company must be 10 times lighter than the competition, not 10 times better. It used to be 'the best product won', now it's the customer experience. It used to be what you sold, now it's how you sell.  
  • scalable materials that build your funnel - that's the software and the tools that enable you to shape great customer experiences. 

new world


Watch Brian's keynote in the video below (up until minute 45) to learn more about the flywheel as the new growth model and to find out how you can win two VIP tickets for INBOUND 2019: 


If you want to learn about our journey at HubSpot from funnel to flywheel and get some practical tips on how to apply the flywheel to your business, read Jon Dick's post here


Have you fixed your flywheel yet? 


Topics: Inbound Marketing, Marketing

Iliyana Stareva

Written by Iliyana Stareva

Iliyana Stareva is the author of Inbound PR - the book that is transforming the PR industry. She's also a keynote speaker and a consultant in inbound and digital for fast-growing companies and agencies. Currently, Iliyana is Chief of Staff to the EMEA President at ServiceNow. Before that, she held global and EMEA-wide positions at Cisco and HubSpot. She is also certified by the PMI as a Project Management Professional (PMP)®. In her free time, you can find Iliyana writing for her blog, dancing salsa or travelling the world.

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