Marketing funnels are something that every company tries to build in order to create a sustainable revenue stream. Can marketing funnels really eliminate the need for sales team?

I have been thinking deep about this question for a while. After pondering on various possibilities and analyzing where sales and marketing is going forward I think I have nailed the perfect answer.

Before I start answering this question I want to clear a few things:

  • When I say a marketing funnel I am talking about an automated way to acquire new customers without the need of a sales-person at any given point of the acquisition journey.
  • Sales team includes BDR’s SDR’s and closers
  • In order to create a fair comparison I will talk about short and long sales cycles.

What Is a Marketing Funnel?

A Marketing funnel is a series of steps that a lead goes through before they become a customer.

There are two broader categories of marketing funnels:

  • Sales-team dependent marketing funnels
  • Sales-team independent marketing funnels

Sales Team Dependent Marketing Funnels

These funnels are designed to work hand in hand with your sales team. The sales team have various touch-points throughout the journey. The marketing team may change what a prospect sees based on certain actions from the sales side.

Let’s take a look at a simple example:


As you can see from the chart above, these types of funnels involve the sales and marketing team working together. Most established businesses and startups concentrate on building a sales dependent funnel. In-fact if your core customer base is enterprise clients then the sales team needs to setup multiple calls

Sales Team Independent Funnel

Independent funnels do not require the help of any sales rep to sell your product or service. you simply drive traffic to the start of your marketing funnel and the prospects go through a series of steps to become your client.

A good example of sales team independent funnels would be ClickFunnels or Dropbox Pro.


3 Types Of Products That Really Need A Sales Team

Selling to enterprise clients only – When your product is geared towards enterprise clients it involves a long and complicated sales cycle. In such cases having a sales team is not optional but compulsory.

Highly Personalized Product – If your signup process cannot be automated into an easy to follow step by step system, you need a sales team. For example, if you are selling SEO consulting or marketing packages, the proposals are quite unique for each new prospect.

Selling Services – When you are selling custom services like SEO audits, marketing packages and more, it’s very difficult to eliminate the need for a sales team. Each quote to a potential prospect is quite unique or different. In such cases, the best thing to do is use a sales-rep to close the prospect and handle their own pipelines.

2 Types Of Products That Don’t Need A Sales Team

Courses & Educational Materials – Courses and educational materials are easy to sell without any sales team.

SaaS Products – Most SaaS products can be sold without the need of a sales-person. The reason why SaaS companies hire sales people is because they want to accelerate their revenue. Another important reason could be that they have not figured out a consistent ROI positive digital marketing campaign.

Cost Vs Sales Team Curve (CST Curve – Invented by me)

Last but not the least I invented something called the Cost Vs. Sales Team Curve. The dependency of a dedicated sales team is directly proportional to the cost of your product and it’s complexity.


As you can see from the graph above, the dependency grows exponentially with increasing complexity and price.

How will Sales Change 10 Years From Now

So, if you are a sales guy reading this post then I am happy to say that I am confident that sales is still not going anywhere for a while.

However, with the advancement in AI and machine learning you will start to see people buying more complex products without having to talk with a human. Chatbots will also play a huge role in sales & marketing automation.

Here is how my sales curve looks 5 years from now. As you can see the curve is now more linear.



After 10 years, the sales curve changes dramatically. Most sales jobs can now be automated with massive progress in human behaviour, evolution of the internet and artificial intelligence. Bots and virtual voices handle most sales cycles for both inbound and outbound leads. This is still a distant future and something that is quite likely.