Your sales funnel is its critical part of any business.  

Your sales funnel must be mapped to how your target customers buy. Or at least it should be. Having multiple products may require that you have several sales funnels.

When was the last time you mapped your sales process to match your customer’s buying journey?

The marketing-to-sales funnel is critical to every business. This is the cycle all buyers go through when deciding what to purchase and then finally committing. But can it be frictionless?

  • Do you have a defined sales process?
  • Does marketing pass qualified leads to your sales rep?
  • Can you determine bottlenecks and leaks in your sales process?

With digital online marketing and lead generation, the cycle has changed in some ways but is essentially the same as it has been since the earliest times of marketplace vendors. Picture yourself at a medieval village on market day. 

People think they may need what you have, have money ready to spend, do a little research (smelling the apples in the old days ? there was no Google or Bing back then!), perhaps check out competitors, and then come back for your product.

Whether that process has moved online, on mobile social media or at a brick and mortar store, the decision-making cycle the funnel is still the same. 

Think about how you purchased your last car or home. What was your process? It’s critical to understand the buyer’s journey and provide the right message and content to help the buyer make an informed decision.

Connect with Your Customers


Where Online Marketing Gets Tricky

What is not the same for online marketing is the speed at which this can happen and the targeted approach. 

With savvy marketing, you can pinpoint your target audiences, address them with specific information at the right time in their buying process, and analyze data to show what worked to close a sale.

At every step of the funnel, a prospect could become a customer. How do you make that funnel seamless and without friction? You want to eliminate any potential delays in responding to customers’ inquiries, ensure follow-up with those who are not going further with your product and keep the cycle always progressing toward a sale.

What’s a Good Marketer does to help the Sales Funnel

sales funnels

Make sure your marketing to sales funnel is defined and the sales team agrees with it. There should be no holes or gaps in the sales funnel where your potential customers fall out. 

Going on with our analogy, there will be some prospects that escape. But they’re not going into someone else’s funnel, and that’s the important part to remember.

1. Analyze your current marketing efforts and find the gaps

What gaps are in your sales funnel?

Perhaps you’ve got a lot of followers on social media but no leads coming in. Why? Could it be you didn’t ask your followers to do anything that would open a relationship/conversation with them?

You need a Call to Action. Let’s say you do have a call to action, but you’re getting practically no responses. You should ask yourself: Is the Call to Action clear? 

Is it on the first screen without the reader having to scroll down (called above the fold)? Is it graphically appealing? Is it something people really care about or want?

Be ready to analyze and act on information coming from your audience interaction. Be sure you know exactly how people found your company, how they interacted with you, and where they either left the marketing funnel or decided to buy. 

This can reveal a great deal about speeding up the buying process and increasing your overall sales.

2. Deliver the right message at the right stage of the buying cycle

Let’s go back to the medieval marketplace for a moment. You sell apples, and a village baker is looking at the newest flour delivery. You don’t even know if he’s thinking about making a pie or a loaf of bread, but your job is to convince him to make apple pies. 

The next customer is a mother to six children and has already come by your stall once, looked at and smelled the apples, and is now visiting the strawberry vendor. These buyers are at very different stages of the marketing funnel.

It’s the same with your online marketing. You need to have each potential buyer defined as a buyer persona. Know who they are, what they are looking for, what motivates them, when they tend to shop, how quickly they make decisions, etc. 

Then target your marketing accordingly. Your pitch to the villager buying flour will be to convince them to make an apple pie. Your pitch to the villager browsing fruit will be to convince them that your apples are better than strawberries.

3. Automate communications for follow-ups

You are far beyond the village marketplace in your marketing. You could have hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of leads coming in every week via your website, blog, social media channels, even email marketing.

Every one of these could be delivering someone in a different stage of the buying process. To make it frictionless, you need targeted campaigns with messages created specifically for each stage and channel.

Here are the best part and a huge opportunity where many others fail: Automate your responses. 

Map out the buyer personas, where they are in the buying cycle, how they entered your marketing funnel, and how you will respond. Automate responses when a lead is lost or closed too. Setting up these scalable processes will ensure prospects move through the funnel smoothly.

4. Close the loop with sales funnels

The final but critical point in the funnel is sales. Everything that has come into the funnel counts for nothing if you don’t get a sale. Revenue is the ultimate goal, of course, and you’ve got to deliver your marketing leads to a strong sales unit.

I run into this all the time. A client’s lead management process is done in a haphazard way? Or worse, one simply doesn’t exist.

Borrowed from my friend’s at Sirius, I recommend using and adopting their Demand Waterfall to improve visibility into the health of the lead funnel to drive more revenue from marketing and sales investments.


Wrap up on Sales Funnels

Building a seamless, frictionless unit between sales and marketing requires that both sides listen to the other. 

Salespeople want qualified leads, good data to tell them who they’re contacting, and details on what the potential customer is evaluating. It will help them deliver an RFP, demonstration, presentation, etc. 

The marketing team, in turn, needs feedback on the data they deliver. They need to know a sale has been completed or why it failed. Remember also that a sale should never be the end of a customer relationship. 

Follow-up sales, maintenance, upgrades, etc. should continue. Back to marketing. The loop should never end, and the funnel should continue to regenerate.

The marketing-to-sales funnel should be a continuous flow between marketing, sales, and the customer.

Even though there are many marketing channels in today’s market, returning to the roots of retail may help shape your thinking. Go back to the old village, envision yourself as a simple vendor, and use common sense.

We’re listening.

Have something to say about your thoughts on sales funnels? 

Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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General FAQ?s

What are the sales funnel stages?

The sales funnel is a metaphor for the sales process from initial contact to final sale. The funnel has five stages: lead (MCL), prospect (MQL), qualified prospect (SAL), committed (SQL) and transacted. Toward the bottom of the funnel, time to closing decreases and the probability of the sale occurring increases.

What are the sales funnel?

The sales funnel (also known as a revenue funnel or sales process) refers to the buying process that companies lead customers through when purchasing products.

What are the stages of the sales funnel?

The sales funnel a metaphor for the sales process from initial contact to final sale. The funnel has five stages: lead, prospect, qualified prospect, committed and closed. As the prospect moves through the sales funnel, the time to close decreases, and probability increases.

What is the sales pipeline?

The sales pipeline is a visual snapshot of where prospects are in the sales process. Sales pipelines show you how many deals salespeople are expected to close in a given week, month, or year (period of time) and how close a sales rep is to reaching their sales quota.


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