Why Tech Consultants Need to Ditch the Sales Funnel

By David Smith

The traditional sales funnel may hold your tech consulting firm back from realizing the full potential of client relationships.

You should ditch it.

The linear sales funnel model depicts the customer journey from awareness to purchase.

While the sales funnel model may be valuable for transactional businesses, it falls short for consulting firms that thrive on building deep, enduring relationships.

True client success extends far beyond the initial sale.

It’s time to ditch the outdated sales funnel approach and embrace a mindset that nurtures long-term success.

The Reason Why Ditching the Funnel Is a Good Idea

The sales funnel is a familiar concept: attract, engage, convert. It’s simple to understand. 

The issue is that the funnel treats customer acquisition as the end goal, overlooking the immense value unlocked through long-term engagement.

By treating clients as one-time transactions, you are missing out on opportunities for repeat business, referrals, and the ability to co-create solutions that address evolving needs.

For tech consultants, the real value lies in cultivating lasting partnerships that drive continuous improvement, innovation, and growth.

Tech consulting leaders understand that our success hinges on the depth of client engagements, not just the breadth.

The Benefits of Thinking Beyond the Funnel

Stable Revenue:

Enduring client partnerships breed loyalty and provide consulting firms with a reliable revenue stream from repeat business, expansion projects, and renewals with existing accounts.

Higher Margins:  

Retaining and expanding business with an existing client is far more cost-effective than continually pursuing new logos. Consulting firms avoid the steep acquisition costs and can achieve higher margins from established relationships.

Reduce Sales Cycles:

With established relationships, consultants avoid starting from scratch each time. Existing rapport, trust, and track record streamline sales cycles for new work.

Marketing Potential:

Successful, long-term engagements become influential case studies that validate your firm’s expertise. These tangible proof points amplify your brand reputation and marketing impact.


When consulting firms cultivate genuine partnership mentalities and deliver exceptional experiences, satisfied clients become vocal advocates – a growth engine providing a steady stream of referrals.

Competitive Advantage:

By becoming embedded partners, firms make it difficult for competitors to displace them. Trusted client relationships create high switching costs and establish defensive barriers.


A deep understanding of a client’s unique processes, culture, and challenges allows consultants to co-create tailored solutions that drive innovation precisely targeted to the customer’s needs. These solutions may also be valuable to similar organizations.

Talent Retention:

Employees value working on complex, challenging engagements with marquee clients. Maintaining these long-running partnerships provides consultants rewarding work and aids talent acquisition and retention.

The Better Way

Ditching the sales funnel doesn’t mean you abandon structure; it means evolving it.

For example, the Duct Tape Marketing Marketing Hourglass™ is a great holistic engagement model for tech consulting firms.

The Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass™ is a visual model developed by John Jantsch that depicts the customer journey and relationship lifecycle for service providers like tech consulting firms.

Unlike the traditional sales funnel focused solely on acquiring new customers, the hourglass represents a continuous loop of turning strangers into prospects, prospects into customers, and customers into referral sources.

Here’s a breakdown of the stages in the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass™:

  1. Know: This is the stage where a potential customer becomes aware of your business.
  2. Like: In this stage, through various touchpoints and interactions, the potential customer starts to form a favorable opinion of your brand.
  3. Trust: Trust is built through proofs of credibility and past success. Customers may read reviews, ask for recommendations, or test your services.
  4. Try: The potential customer takes a trial or a small step towards a purchase, like a consultation or a demo.
  5. Buy: This is the point of purchase, where the customer buys a product or service.
  6. Repeat: The customer comes back to make additional purchases because of the positive experience they had.
  7. Refer: Satisfied with their experience, customers become advocates for the brand and refer others.

The top of the hourglass represents the “Lead Generation” phase, where the target market first becomes aware of and engages with your firm through marketing efforts like content, social media, or referrals.

The narrowing “neck” of the Hourglass is the “Lead Conversion” stage – moving qualified prospects into paying customers through your sales process.

The bottom of the Hourglass represents “Expansion and Referrals” – the ongoing process of delivering excellent service, nurturing customer relationships, expanding your presence with customers, and encouraging referrals.

The model emphasizes that client acquisition is just the first step. True growth and scale result from the cycle of turning delighted customers into enthusiastic promoters who refer others back into the top of the hourglass.

Your ICP should be modeled from these types of customers.

The Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass provides a holistic, cyclical framework for tech consulting firms. It maximizes the lifetime value of current customers by delivering on the brand promise and nurturing relationships. It also engages prospects from referrals, making it easier to convert them to customers—a win-win.

The Point

The sales funnel’s singular focus on customer acquisition is too narrow for tech consulting firms.

To unlock sustained success, ditch this limiting model and cultivate client relationships built on trust, collaboration, and shared growth.

Want insights on how tech consulting firms can master lead generation?  Check out this new eBook and improve your firm’s results.

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About Valens Point

We help early-stage tech companies accelerate growth by building brand credibility, establishing repeatable lead generation, and supporting sales and partner teams. The result — effective marketing up and running in a fraction of the time it would take to recruit, hire, and train an internal marketing team.