How does your marketing team view the sales process? If you’re like most businesses, your answer is probably “through the lens of a typical sales funnel.” You know the one: it starts with awareness, moves on to consideration, then decision, and finally, purchase.
Most marketing teams primarily focus on generating leads at the top of the funnel and driving them through to a close. That makes sense, right? But HubSpot co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah has a different take. He believes businesses should view the sales process not as a funnel but as a flywheel.
The sales funnel made perfect sense when I started learning about inbound marketing. It’s a very logical way to look at the customer journey, and it’s easy to see how your marketing efforts contribute to each stage. But over time, I realized that this model doesn’t quite capture the complexity of the buyer’s journey.
So, when Hubspot dropped the funnel in favor of the flywheel, it was a lightbulb moment. The flywheel model is a much more accurate representation of how customers interact with your business. It builds relationships that result in a sale and creates promoters who will continue to spread the word about your business.
This Hubspot flywheel analysis examines whether this model can help your marketing team generate more leads and close more sales. I’ll explain what the flywheel is, how it works, and why it’s a better way to think about the sales process.
Bottom Line Up Front
The Hubspot flywheel is a more accurate representation of the customer journey than the sales funnel. It’s a cyclical model that builds relationships and creates promoters who will continue to spread the word about your business. By focusing on the three key stages of the flywheel – Attract, Engage, and delight – you can generate more leads and close more sales.
What is a Flywheel?
James watt was the first to coin the term “flywheel” (his invention) in the early 1800s. A flywheel is a disc or wheel attached to a shaft. This wheel stores energy and, when spinning, helps to keep a machine running smoothly. The amount of stored energy depends on how first the wheel spins, the friction of the system, and its size and mass.
In business, “flywheel” means a self-sustaining process that keeps the momentum going. Once you get the flywheel spinning, it becomes easier and easier to keep it going. The wheel is incredibly energy-efficient, so it requires less and less effort to maintain momentum.
But friction, the mechanics of the system, its mass, and size all play a role in how quickly you can get the flywheel spinning and how much power it has to sustain itself. The same is true of your business. To get the flywheel spinning, you need to overcome some initial friction.
The more complex your business, the more friction there will be. But once you get it going, the flywheel can sustain itself with very little effort from you.
Hubspot’s Flywheel Explained
The HubSpot flywheel is a model that illustrates how businesses can grow by building relationships with their customers. Hubspot’s flywheel explains the momentum that starts when a customer has a great experience with your product. This positive experience leads to advocacy, which drives more customers and creates even more advocates.
The flywheel builds on the idea of the customer journey. You start the journey when you attract a customer with a problem you can solve. Engaging them on their terms as you work to solve that problem creates a relationship. Customers become promoters when they are delighted at every stage of the customer journey.
These promoters continue to cycle through the flywheel, providing more customers and generating even more delight. This positive feedback loop keeps the flywheel spinning and builds momentum for your business.
But if you produce unhappy customers at any stage of the journey, such as over-promising and under-delivering, they can quickly become detractors. These detractors can hurt your flywheel, slowing it down or reversing the momentum. Also, because you are applying force to the flywheel, you need to ensure that no friction will cause it to slow down or stop.
For example, some common friction points in the customer journey are:
- A poor user experience on your website
- Ineffective sales and onboarding processes
- A lack of customer support
- Lack of engagement from your team
- Complex internal processes
You can reduce friction by making changes to your processes and systems. For example, you can streamline your sales process, make it easier for customers to find answers on your website, or improve communication within your team. The more you decrease friction and apply the necessary force, the more momentum you’ll build.
Inbound Methodology and Its relation to the Hubspot Flywheel
An inbound methodology is a customer-centric approach to doing business. It’s based on the idea that if you help enough people, they will eventually help you. This model contrasts outbound marketing, which is interruption-based and focuses on getting your message in front of as many people as possible, regardless of whether or not they are interested.
Hubspot redesigned the inbound methodology to be even more customer-centric. They created the flywheel to show how businesses can grow by starting and maintaining relationships with their customers. Hubspot’s inbound methodology is a circle with three stages: attract, engage, and delight.
The first stage of the flywheel is attraction. In this stage, you generate awareness for your brand and get people interested in what you offer. The key here is to attract the right people, not just any people. You want to attract people who are already looking for a solution to their problem.
Ideally, you don’t want to force your message on anyone. Instead, you want to be there when the potential customers are ready to listen. That is why inbound marketing is so effective. You’re not interrupting people; you’re starting a relationship when they are already interested.
There are many ways to attract people to your brand. Below are a few ways to do this:
- Use SEO to make sure your website is ranking for relevant keywords
- Generate leads with gated content
- Run ads targeting people who are already interested in what you offer
- Perform conversion rate optimization to make sure your website is optimized for lead generation
The above methods will help you attract the right people to your brand. But once you’ve attracted them, you need to engage them.
The second stage of the flywheel is engagement. In this stage, you turn those leads into customers and start building a relationship with them. You do this by providing valuable content that helps them solve their problem.
The goal in this stage is to keep the customers moving forward by providing them with the information they need at each stage of their journey. For example, if you’re selling a product, you might provide them with an eBook on how to use it effectively. Or, if you’re selling a service, you might provide them with a blog post on how to get the most out of it.
The key is to provide value at each stage of the journey so that the customers keep moving forward. Below are a few ways to engage your customers:
- Use content to educate your customers and help them solve their problems
- Personalize your communications for each customer
- Leverage data to segment your customers and send them targeted content
The third stage of the flywheel is to delight your customers. In this stage, you turn those customers into promoters. Promoters are people who love your brand and sing your praises to their friends and family.
The goal in this stage is to make sure your customers are so happy with your product or service that they want to tell others about it. The more promoters you have, the more momentum you’ll build. And with more promoters comes increased growth. It could be in the form of more customers, more sales, or both.
Should you Drop the Marketing Funnel for the Hubspot Flywheel?
Most businesses use a marketing funnel to track their growth. The marketing funnel visually represents a customer’s journey from awareness to purchase.
The main problem with the marketing funnel is that it’s linear. It doesn’t consider that customers can enter and exit at any point in the journey. Moreover, this model doesn’t take into account that customers leaving the funnel can influence other customers who are still in it or those who haven’t even entered it yet.
Previously, the funnel worked because businesses only had to worry about getting their message in front of as many people as possible. Now, things are different. With the advent of the internet, customers have more control over their journeys. They can research a product or service before talking to a salesperson. They can also read reviews and testimonials from other customers before making a purchase.
Most companies view customer churn as an inevitable part of doing business. But if you’re losing customers, it’s a sign that something is wrong. It could be that your product isn’t good enough or your customer service is lacking. But it could also be that your marketing funnel is flawed.
According to a 2020 Forbes study, 96% of customers will leave a company because of a bad customer experience.
The study found that the number one reason customers leave is that they don’t feel valued. Other reasons include poor customer service, unresponsive customer service, and feeling like a company doesn’t care about them.
If you’re losing customers, it’s time to rethink your marketing funnel. The HubSpot flywheel can help you do that. The HubSpot flywheel is a newer model that takes into account the fact that customers can enter and exit at any point in their journey. It’s also a cycle, which means promoters can influence other customers still in the awareness or consideration stage.
According to a 2018 Hubspot research, you need consumer referrals more than ever. About 81% of people are more likely to buy a product or service when it’s a recommendation from a friend. The study also found that 65% of respondents no longer trust company releases, and 71% don’t trust sponsored ads.
So, if you’re looking for a more effective way to grow your business, the HubSpot flywheel is. It’s a model that considers the changing marketing landscape and customer behavior. Customer acquisition is no longer cheap, and marketing is getting more expensive. So when Hubspot insists on the importance of the flywheel, it’s not just hot air.
The flywheel feeds on its momentum. The more you use it, the more it pushes you along. So, you’ll find a continuous loop of attraction, engagement, and delight.
How to Change Your Funnel to a Flywheel
The Hubspot flywheel won’t be too tough to understand if you’re familiar with the marketing funnel. It’s just a different way of looking at customer acquisition and growth. The main difference is that the flywheel is a cycle, and the funnel is linear.
The biggest change you’ll need to make is in your mindset. With the marketing funnel, you’re always thinking about how to get new customers. With the flywheel, you’re thinking about how to keep the customers you have and turn them into promoters.
Here are the steps you need to take to change your funnel into a flywheel:
- Focus on customer success and not your system’s health: First, you must ensure your customers are successful. That means you need to focus on their outcomes, not on the health of your system. When you’re only thinking about how to keep your system running, you’ll inevitably make decisions that aren’t in your customers’ best interests.
- Share the knowledge for free: Knowledge is power, and if you’re the only one with it, you’re in a good position. But when you share your knowledge freely, you empower your customers to be successful. Eliminating friction in the customer journey is how you turn first-time customers into promoters.
- Delight your customers at every touchpoint: It’s the right thing to do and good business. Not because you want them to come back (although you do) but because it’s how you turn customers into promoters. When you delight your customers, they’re more likely to talk about you, which leads to more customers.
- Humans trust humans: You’ll rely on marketing when starting. But as the business begins to scale, you’ll need to focus on word-of-mouth marketing. That’s because people trust humans more than they trust marketing. And when it comes to making a decision, people are more likely to listen to someone they know and trust.
Successful Flywheel Strategy Examples
The perfect example of a company that’s using the flywheel is Amazon. Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer, with over $469.82 billion in revenue. But it wasn’t always that way. In the early days, Amazon was a small bookseller. So, how did they grow into the behemoth they are today?
It starts with their focus on customer success. Amazon’s number one priority is to ensure its customers are happy. They offer low prices, fast shipping, and excellent customer service. This focus on customer success led to explosive growth.
To share their knowledge, Amazon offers customer reviews. Customers can read reviews before purchasing, which helps them make an informed decision. And to delight their customers, Amazon offers Prime, a premium membership that gives customers free two-day shipping.
All of these factors led to word-of-mouth marketing. Because customers were happy with their experience, they told their friends and family about Amazon. This strategy led to even more growth and allowed Amazon to become the juggernaut it is today.
While Amazon is the perfect example of a company using the flywheel, they’re not the only one. Other companies that have used this strategy to achieve success include:
- Apple: Apple focuses on customer success by making it easy to use its products. They also share their knowledge by offering free workshops at their stores. And to delight their customers, they offer various services, like the Genius Bar, where customers can get help with their devices.
- Zappos: Zappos is an online retailer that sells shoes and clothing. They focus on customer success by offering free shipping and returns. They share their knowledge through customer reviews and product descriptions. And to delight their customers, they offer 24/7 customer service.
You can learn how to use this strategy to grow your business through the Hubspot flywheel course. The course is designed for marketing, sales, and service professionals. It will teach you how to attract new customers, convert them into promoters, and keep them happy.
Hubspot Flywheel Analysis (FAQs)
Question: What is the flywheel method?
Answer: The flywheel method is a concept that insists on customers as drivers of growth. The idea is that a company will grow if it keeps its customers happy. Customers will refer others if they’re happy with a company’s products or services.
Question: What are the three areas or intentions of the content flywheel?
Answer: The three areas or intentions of the content flywheel are; attract, engage, and delight. Attracting new customers is the first step. Then you need to engage with them, so they keep coming back. Finally, delighting them will turn them into promoters.
Question: What is the Amazon flywheel?
Answer: The Amazon flywheel is a customer-centric growth model that starts with customer happiness and ends with word-of-mouth marketing. Amazon leverages customer engagement to drive growth. The company has built a loyal customer base by delivering great customer experiences.
The Hubspot Flywheel is a powerful tool that can help businesses of all sizes to improve their sales and marketing efforts. By understanding that customer loyalty results from a positive customer experience, businesses can use the flywheel to their advantage. In turn, this will lead to more sales and happier customers.
While it may take some time to get the hang of using the Hubspot Flywheel, it is well worth the effort. By using this tool, businesses can increase their sales, improve their customer loyalty, and create a better overall experience for their customers.