Table of Contents
- 1 Your sales funnel is its critical part of any business to stay alive.
- 2 The Ultimate Sales Funnel Calculator
- 3 Where Online Marketing and the Sales Funnel Gets Tricky
- 4 What’s a Good Marketer does to help the Sales Funnel
- 5 Wrap up on Sales Funnels
- 6 General FAQ?s
Your sales funnel is its critical part of any business to stay alive.
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.
The sales funnel will help you understand what customers are doing and thinking at every stage of your sales process.
These insights help you invest in the appropriate marketing activities throughout each stage, create the best possible message at every stage and turn fewer prospects into paying clients.
But how do you know what is going on? How do you know if a customer is a good fit or not and what do you do about it?
In order to optimize sales activities, you need to have a comprehensive understanding of the customer and their buying decisions.
Without this information, you will be blind to the opportunities that can and should be explored.
Below I present three examples to illustrate the importance of understanding the customer and how the sales funnel works.
In the sales funnel, the first stage includes contacting the prospect.
At this point, the salesperson needs to establish a relationship with the prospects so they will trust the salesperson. This is usually done by communicating with the prospect on an equal level and establishing a comfort level.
This comfort level can be established by providing helpful information that the prospect is looking for.
For example, sharing with the prospect how to solve a particular problem will create a sense of caring and knowledge and make the prospect feel better about the situation.
In the second stage, the sales funnel moves into contact selling. In this phase, the salesperson moves from communicating with the lead to cold calling and to a follow-up call to further establish a relationship.
The Ultimate Sales Funnel Calculator
Do you feel like you don’t have enough time? The sales funnel calculator will help you organize your business and get more leads.
Again in this stage, the salesperson can show the benefit of the product or service to the lead by providing accurate information or educating the lead on a specific situation that the product or service can help to solve.
The salesperson should be careful not to use any sales techniques that are too direct. For example, if the lead has a specific situation such as not being able to get an insurance quote because his/her rate is too high, the salesperson should not lie about the rate, but can explain why it would be lower.
The goal is to provide the benefit without lying or tricking the prospect.
The final stage of the sales funnel is called the closing.
This is usually when the prospect provides their contact information, provides a product description, or describes what the product or service is used for. Once the marketing process is completed, the salesperson can take the opportunity to thank the prospects for their contact information and close the sales.
There are four stages in a customer journey. These stages are the pre-sales, the during the sales process, the after-sales process, and the maintenance process.
By using a sales funnel to structure each of these stages, the business can better identify customers, build relationships and close the sales. If done correctly, the sales funnel can increase the conversion rate of a website or bring in new prospects to the business.
During the pre-sales stage, the sales funnel provides information about the benefits that a product or service has to offer prospects.
For example, if a company is selling heating oil, the benefits that the oil will provide the homeowner should be mentioned.
By providing this information upfront, the prospect knows what benefits are available before even contacting the leads. When the information is known, the more likely it will be that the potential customer will make a decision to contact the company.
The next stage of the sales funnel is the in-depth portion of the process. The in-depth stage consists of contacting leads and offering free samples or other information to interested prospects. It also consists of setting appointments with prospects, calling leads on the phone, and setting up face-to-face meetings.
Each of these activities is designed to test the waters, to see if the prospective customer is truly interested in the product or service, before moving on to the next stage.
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 somehow 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 of 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.
Where Online Marketing and the Sales Funnel 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
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?
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.Â
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 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 haphazardly? Or worse, one doesn’t exist.
Borrowed from my friends 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 retail roots may help shape your thinking. Go back to the old village, envision yourself as a simple vendor, and use common sense.
Have something to say about your thoughts on sales funnels?
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 is the sales funnel?
What are the stages of the sales funnel?
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.