We all know marketing and sales funnels. They've been ingrained in us for years, helping us to understand our conversion rates and where our customers are in the buying cycle. 

But it's all changed.

I've spoken before about knowing your customer and considering their buyer's journey, but taking this further and showing how it relates to the funnel is an interesting one. It doesn't. As Kissmetrics put it, the funnel is now more of a pretzel.

A buyer journey does not necessarily map exactly to the linear guidelines of the classic funnel. They may go back and forth between a few of the stages (searching the web for reviews whilst also looking at your prices, perhaps) or quite simply, they may come to you having done all their research, ready to buy. 

In short, everything got a little more complicated for us. But how do we solve it?

Still determine a typical buyer journey, but more importantly, know your customers and be flexible with your approach to allow for that movement back and forth. 

Here are a few tips for getting that right:

- Make sure that you have offers and blogs for all stages of the buyer journey on your site. This gives the buyer the opportunity to choose when they are ready to consider the next stage, but also to go back to re-cap if they need to, because all of the information is still there.

- Make sure that your sales team are not primed to pounce on the first lead that comes through on a form. Asking whether they have any questions, and adopting a helpful over promotional stance will help, and give them the opportunity to say 'not right now, I'm still considering'. If you've been helpful, then when they're ready to proceed, they will be more likely to respond.

- Tailor your efforts. Using workflows or marketing automation, along with personalisation can be a great way of stepping above the crowd and really delivering value. 

Moving away from the classic funnel, and knowing that every prospect will be different is a crucial step in understanding the buyer's journey. Tailor your efforts, and keep flexible in order to keep relevant and not lose sales as a result of pushing too hard, too soon.