The B2B sales funnel can be compared to a maze that your leads must find their way through. You have access to a variety of leads at the maze’s entrance. Some may choose alternative routes, come to dead ends, or even go backward as they go along until they reach the correct route to conversion.
Not everyone travels in a straight line, and this is an example of the sales funnel stage. Some can be more difficult to find, while others might be lost.
We’ll look at doable tactics and pointers in this blog to increase lead conversion rates using an optimized B2B sales funnel. Activate leads, cultivate connections, and boost conversion rates by coordinating your funnel with the sale process.
Similar to the many stages in a relay race, the B2B marketing and B2B sales funnels have distinct functions throughout the client journey. The beginning of the race is analogous to the B2B marketing funnel. Increasing awareness and drawing in new clients is your aim.
Email campaigns, SEO, and content all help to spark interest and produce leads. Educating and engaging potential customers and bringing your brand and its offers to their attention is the aim. For instance, your business offers enterprises cloud-based accounting software.
You may run targeted social media advertisements, provide webinars on accounting best practices, and write educational blog entries as part of the marketing funnel. This helps you draw in companies that are having trouble managing their finances and establishes your brand as a trustworthy source of solutions.
Those leads are turned into real customers by the sales funnel. This funnel outlines the concrete steps you take to persuade consumers to buy from you.
It entails tailored exchanges, one-on-one discussions, product introductions, and attending to particular client requirements and issues. Encouraging these leads through the decision-making process and closing the deal are the ultimate objectives.
B2B Sales Funnel Stages
Every B2B sales funnel is unique. To meet customer needs, one company might omit some phases while another might add more. A complex corporate solution supplier could have up to six stages in its funnel, whereas a modest furniture company that provides office interiors might only have three.
The most typical stages of a B2B sales funnel are as follows: awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, and purchase. Let’s break these down.
At the awareness stage, your target buyers know your brand and its offerings. Buyers may come across your brand through inbound marketing efforts like blogs, ads on LinkedIn, or podcasts. Say you need some help writing B2B emails. You do a quick Google search and get the following results.
These results are all informative pieces that help you solve a problem. They’re not outright pitches — they aim to educate and inform, not sell. So even though you’re not ready to buy yet, these content pieces have made you aware of these companies.
Another emerging channel for awareness, especially for B2B audiences, is thought leadership content on LinkedIn.
Brian Hicks, the VP of sales at Belkins, for example, is an expert in building sales processes for B2B. Brian creates content around industry trends and best practices to position himself and Belkins as trustworthy sources and expose the brand to more eyeballs.
You pique your target buyer’s interest and build credibility at the interest stage. While they may not be ready to purchase, they’re interested in learning more about you. Potential buyers may explore your website, skim through case studies, or watch product demos.
If a prospect has just finished reading a blog, for example, you don’t want them to close the tab. Instead, you want them to dive in further and explore the different ways your company can help them.
Alternatively, you can use programmatic advertising to retarget your website visitors with social media ads and email campaigns tailored to their interests. This helps you stay top of mind as they navigate the decision-making process so you’ll be first on their list when they’re ready to buy.
Now, your potential buyer knows they have a problem and they’re ready to explore solutions. Leads are qualified at this stage since they understand what you can offer and how it fits their needs. Here’s where product-led content comes into play. Step-by-step product walk-throughs, video tutorials, white papers, and Q&As help potential buyers understand your product’s features and benefits.
You can also try case studies and video testimonials that detail how similar customers used your product or service to solve their problems. At Belkins, they created case studies and video testimonials that allow visitors to filter them by industry and see the results similar businesses have gotten.
Discovery calls are most relevant at this stage. Remember, you want to solve their problems, not pitch. Invite them to a free trial that allows them to use your product as a sandbox and see how it can actually help them.
At this stage, buyers have made up their minds. They know they need a solution and they’ve expressed interest in exploring that further with you. If they’ve booked a call with you, they’ve likely booked a call with other vendors as well. Your job now is to ensure they choose you.
The most effective way to do this is by creating content that directly addresses their needs. This content showcases your product’s value compared to competitors. Podcasts, webinars, email campaigns, and videos can boost visibility and educate potential buyers on why they should pick you.
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Belkins regularly creates webinars to educate its target audience and deliver value to them. These webinars position them as experts in the space and make prospects more likely to sign with them.
You can also try comparison charts and white papers that compare your product to similar ones on the market. This way, potential buyers can see what sets you apart from the competition.
Now buyers have everything they need. They have the pros and cons, they’ve scoured the reviews, and they know how much each solution costs. They’re right at the edge and ready to take the plunge. You just need to nudge them in the right direction.
Two things really come in handy at this stage: urgency and pricing. You need to highlight why it’s critical for your prospects to get the solution right away. Remind them of the rising costs they’ll have to bear if they wait too long, and explain how your product is the most cost-effective solution for their business.
You can also offer discounts and special offers that make it hard for prospects to say no. Showcase customer reviews or case studies that highlight successful implementations of your product and answer any lingering questions they may have.
Here’s when the buyer finally makes a purchase. The buyer signs the contract and all you need to do is continue nurturing them with post-purchase content and customer success stories that showcase the value they’ve received from your product.
This helps them stay loyal to you for the long term, refer others, and leave positive reviews about your solution online.
How do You Make a B2B Sales Funnel?
You are aware that a B2B lead goes through a number of phases prior to making a purchase. The most important query is this: How can a B2B sales funnel be made impenetrable to reduce the possibility of lead churn? Here’s how to do it:
Build a solid sales pipeline
A sales pipeline is an internal map that outlines all the steps in your sales process.
Building a solid pipeline involves a strategic approach that focuses on generating and nurturing leads, qualifying prospects, and converting them into paying customers. Here’s a step-by-step process to follow:
- Identify your target market: Define your ideal customer profile based on demographics, industry, needs, and preferences. This helps you concentrate your efforts on the most promising leads.
- Lead generation: Employ best B2B lead generation tactics to attract potential customers, such as content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), paid advertising, referrals, and networking. Create compelling and valuable content to establish thought leadership and capture leads through lead magnets like e-books, webinars, or free trials.
- Lead qualification: Not all leads are equal — it’s crucial to assess their fit and potential. Implement lead qualification criteria based on factors like budget, authority, need, and timeline (BANT). Use lead scoring techniques to prioritize and rank leads based on their engagement level, behavior, and demographics.
- Nurture leads: Develop a lead nurturing strategy to engage and build relationships with prospects over time. Use email marketing, personalized content, webinars, and events to provide value, address pain points, and educate leads about your products or services. Stay top of mind with relevant and timely communications.
- Sales prospecting: Actively prospect and reach out to qualified leads through methods like cold calling, email outreach, social selling, or attending industry events. Tailor your approach based on the lead’s profile and engagement history to increase the chances of conversion.
- Sales qualification: Once you establish contact with a prospect, focus on understanding their specific needs and challenges. Conduct thorough discovery calls or meetings to qualify their interest, budget, decision-making process, and timeline.
- Presentation and proposal: Customize your sales pitch or product demonstration to address the prospect’s pain points and showcase how your solution can solve their challenges. Provide a clear proposal outlining the value, pricing, and terms of your offering.
- Follow-up and negotiation: Regularly follow up with prospects to address any concerns, answer questions, and negotiate terms. Build rapport and trust by demonstrating your expertise and responsiveness.
- Closing the deal: Once the prospect is ready to move forward, formalize the agreement, handle paperwork, and ensure a smooth transition to the onboarding or implementation phase.
- Post-sale activities: Don’t neglect your existing customers. Provide excellent post-sale support, maintain regular communication, and upsell or cross-sell additional products or services when appropriate. Satisfied customers can become valuable sources of referrals and repeat business.
Allocate the right sales team members to different funnel stages
The sales journey is a diverse process, requiring different skills at each stage. You need to assign the right person with the right expertise and experience. For instance, you wouldn’t want a junior sales rep taking over a high-value deal that requires specialized knowledge and technical know-how.
At the same time, don’t assign too many people to manage one lead. Too many cooks spoil the broth, and too many sales reps overwhelm your leads with too much information.
Sales specialization involves dialing down each detail of the sales funnel and assigning reps with different skills. For example, you may need data analysts at the research stage who can evaluate the probability of closing the deal. On the other hand, you may need project managers to handle delivery and customer service reps for post-purchase interactions.
Create buyer enablement content for each stage
Buyers need thought leadership and educational content to make purchase decisions. Demos, data sheets, and product information are the bare minimum — you need this content to at least be considered a viable solution.
Buyers today expect access to a wide range of relevant information. Information isn’t just about positioning your brand as a credible source — it simplifies the purchase process for buyers.
Gartner’s research, for example, found that customers who considered the information they received from suppliers to be helpful in advancing across their buying jobs were 3 times more likely to buy a bigger deal with less regret.
Here are the content examples according to the stages:
- Educational blog posts: Create informative articles that address industry trends, challenges, and best practices. This content helps potential buyers understand the broader landscape and identify areas where they may need assistance.
- Case studies: Share success stories of how your product or service has helped previous clients overcome challenges and achieve their goals. Case studies provide social proof and demonstrate the value you can deliver.
- Webinars or video tutorials: Host live or recorded sessions where you demonstrate how your solution can solve specific problems. This interactive content engages prospects and helps them visualize the benefits of your offering.
- Comparison guides or whitepapers: Create in-depth resources that compare your solution with competitors or alternative approaches. These guides help prospects evaluate the different options available and make informed decisions.
- Product demos or free trials: Offer prospects the opportunity to experience your product or service firsthand. This allows them to assess its features, functionality, and usability, increasing their confidence in making a purchase.
- Consultative content: Develop content that addresses common objections, FAQ, and pricing information. This type of content helps prospects overcome any remaining doubts and solidifies their intent to move forward with the purchase.
- Expert interviews or thought leadership articles: Position yourself or your company as industry experts by sharing insights, trends, and forward-thinking ideas. This content reinforces your credibility and trustworthiness.
- ROI calculators or cost-saving analysis: Provide tools or resources that help prospects understand the potential return on investment or cost savings they can achieve by implementing your solution. This data-driven content aids decision-making and justifies the purchase.
- Testimonials or customer reviews: Share feedback and testimonials from satisfied customers. Prospects often rely on the experiences of others to gauge the quality and reliability of a product or service.
- Customer success stories: Showcase how your solution continues to deliver value for existing customers. Highlighting ongoing success can reinforce the buyer’s decision and build confidence in their choice.
Align your sales and marketing teams
Modern buyers are demanding: Any cracks in your process can cost you potential deals. Aligning your sales and marketing teams is the best way to ensure buyers have a seamless experience with your brand.
Bring marketing and sales leaders together to create a multichannel strategy for customer learning paths. Letting customers lead the purchase process involves input from both teams.
The sales team should be able to provide feedback on areas where leads are dropping off, while the marketing team should be aware of any changes or gaps in content that might need to be addressed.
Dedicate responsibilities to each team and set measurable goals. For instance, the marketing team segments leads and creates content, while the sales team facilitates prospective buyers and the deal. With a shared understanding of goals, your teams can collaborate and work together to ensure a seamless customer experience.