The Sales Funnel concept is increasingly being replaced by a new concept in customer acquisition – the Revenue Flywheel. I know because the term keeps coming up in casual conversation with a few private equity folks I work with, and at first I was like, “huh?
Then I remembered Jim Collin’s Good to Great and his description of the flywheel effect.
He has the reader imagine a huge and heavy metal flywheel (a wheel used to store and smooth out energy delivery, as in an engine) and the effort required to get it moving. The first push moves it very slightly, the second a bit more, the third even more (thanks to the momentum of the earlier two pushes added to its own) and so forth. Finally, all those little pushes get the big flywheel rolling along with ease, but there was no single push which did it—you have to consider all the little efforts which contributed.
Applying this to a business, Collin explains that it’s the accumulated day-to-day efforts of an organization which lead to its flywheel spinning faster and faster, rather than a single defining action.
Too often, however, teams change direction in attempts to bypass the “arduous buildup stage.” They lose momentum by chasing grand slams instead of simply getting on base. They progress in fits and starts, or not at all, because efforts aren’t aligned. Some are pushing the flywheel forward while others are applying the brakes.
The Revenue Flywheel
Volohaus’ approach has always been more flywheel than funnel. There are four main areas we focus on: PLAN, PEOPLE, PROCESS, PLATFORM.
As you can see, incremental improvements in any of the four Ps serve to push the flywheel forward – but the trick is that all of these changes must consider the customer in order to stay aligned and increase the momentum of the revenue machine you are trying to build.
It’s the customers who truly drive the revenue flywheel forward and help you grow through repeat business, referrals, upsells, positive reviews, etc. So rather than think of a customer as the final result of a sales funnel, it’s better to think of that acquired customer as someone who will keep your business spinning with repeated pushes to the wheel.
In other words, it’s a relationship, not just a closed deal. You’ve heard that before I know, but it really the crux of the flywheel model.
Questions to ask
If this model is new to you, here are some questions you can ask yourself and your leadership team to get your Revenue Flywheel spinning:
- What are areas of friction in our Plan, People, Process, and Platform which cause us to lose momentum, and how can we address? Do we need to adjust our plan, hire new people or better train who we have, remove bureaucracy, update software, etc.?
- Where can we add some force which will cause greater impact to the speed of the flywheel? Can we better incentivize referrals? Should we double down on social selling or PPC?
- How can we help our existing customers do better? Is there a survey program in place to get feedback on customer needs and wants?
- Is our entire workforce incentivized to be customer-focused? Should we implement profit sharing or a bonus program tied to revenue and customer satisfaction so everyone puts their shoulder to the wheel, rather than just “do their job?”
- Can we think bigger? Are there potential partnerships and alliances which could magnify the speed of our flywheel exponentially?
When answering, remember that in a flywheel it’s the small pushes which add up to the overall motion – so you don’t have to go too crazy and change everything. Smaller changes are fine and likely to be better tolerated by your employees and customers alike.
If your business is experiencing a lot of friction or otherwise cannot get your Revenue Flywheel going, perhaps I can provide some insight. No obligation, no hard sell. Call or email me. firstname.lastname@example.org 760.815.4464.