A sales funnel is the marketing term for the journey potential customers go through on the way to purchase. There are several steps to a sales funnel, usually known as the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel, although these steps may vary depending on a company’s sales model.
Any business owner knows the pain of just missing a sale. After weeks of pitches and demos, chatter and charm, the prospect drops out of the sales funnel without buying.
It happens. But it happens less often when you have the right sales funnel management help. Many small business sales funnels are more like sieves, with holes left by patched-together spreadsheets, sticky notes, missed appointments and forgotten follow-ups.
There’s a better way. Sales and marketing automation software can plug those sales funnel holes and turn near-misses into sales.
There are many benefits to creating sales funnels and using them to effectively guide leads into becoming paying customers. Here are six of them:
1. A focused sales and marketing strategy
Your prospect can get in touch with you at any moment of their customer journey, whether it’s early research or late decision stage. So it’s important to align your marketing and sales efforts so that they receive the information they need even when you don’t have the ability to deliver it directly as a sales person. With a proper sales funnel in place, you can deliver the proper offer to your prospects outside of your sales conversations.
2. The right message at the right time
A sales funnel allows businesses to see the customer journey clearly and provides information for the stage the customer is currently in.
When prospects are newly introduced to your brand, they need content that is curated to make them get a better understanding of what you truly sell. So, in effect, they are at the Awareness stage of the funnel; they require blog posts, infographics, landing pages, and checklists to make them feel more familiar and comfortable with your brand.
Similarly, individuals (or leads at this point) at the desired stage understand your business and thus need product overviews, webinars, demos, and case studies that compel them to take the desired action.
3. Saves time and effort
With a full-sales funnel in place, not only your marketing and sales strategy will align, but you will save a lot of time by creating content just one time that is curated for all individual stages of the funnel. For example, you can create a blog post that addresses a specific pain point and disseminate it among all the prospects in the awareness stage of the funnel looking for a solution to the problem. Also, you can create strategic lead magnets that you offer to leads on the Desire stage.
4. Increased sales
As prospects are nurtured as they go down the funnel, there are chances that, if your sales funnel is fully optimized, you can see an increase in your sales. Nurtured leads result in 47% more sales compared to non-nurtured leads.
Hence, work to optimize your funnel and ensure that all the pain points and all potential gremlins are fixed and your leads reach the bottom of the funnel ready and excited to make a purchase.
5. Improved forecast accuracy
Sales funnels can predict future revenue that your business will generate. Using metrics like conversion rate from the awareness stage to the action stage, you can calculate the percentage of leads you expect to convert and multiply the number by the total estimated deal size in the funnel. This will give you a sales forecast.
Read Also: What is a Sales Funnel in Digital Marketing?
So, the formula for sales forecasting depends on the number of prospects in the awareness stage, the estimated deal value, and the likelihood of the prospect’s purchasing.
Let’s take a sales funnel example that you own an online bookshop. You know that your target audience is mostly on Facebook; they are mostly males and females between the ages of 20 to 50. You build a landing page with a form for prospects to sign up with their emails in exchange for a lead magnet. In this case, the lead magnet is the first ten pages of a new novel that’s just launched.
You run an ad on your Facebook page that drives traffic to your landing page. Prospects add their email addresses and download the lead magnet. Now you have leads instead of prospects. They are moving through the funnel.
What you will do now is nurture the leads. You can send out educational content related to books, or share the new books that will be coming soon to your bookshop, or DIY tips to build a bookshelf. All these email drips will be focused on educating your audience. At the end of this drip campaign, you offer a 10% discount coupon on the first order to your entire list. Now you are selling your books like crazy, and your prospects are converting into customers.
You continue sending educational content to your email list. Give them ideas for bookshelves, how to take care of their books, or suggest different books as gifts. With this content, you are asking them to come back for more.
There you have it — a perfect sales funnel, leading prospects through the funnel and converting them into paying customers.
To summarize, this sales funnel has four stages as follows:
- Awareness: You created a Facebook ad to lead people to your landing page.
- Interest: You offer something of value in exchange for lead capture (email addresses).
- Desire: Your content educates your audience and prepares them for a purchase.
- Action: You offer a coupon your leads can’t resist, then begin marketing to them again to boost retention
For a properly built sales funnel to exist, you first need potential customers who can move through that funnel. Once you have those prospects, you can track behavior and engagement using lead scoring to identify where they are in the funnel.
Let’s delve into the steps to help you create a sales funnel:
1. Gather Data and Understand Your Customers
The best way to understand your audience is by talking to them. The more data you gather about your audience, the more effective your sales funnel will become. One important thing to remember is — you aren’t marketing your business to everyone. You are marketing it to people who are a good fit for what you sell.
That way, you can adjust your funnel to focus on those key and most relevant selling points. You may also gain insights that lead you to adjust your product or service and make it better.
The most important questions you should ask your customers are:
- What are your current challenges with [the area that you cover]?
- What are your current fears and frustrations?
- What are your goals and aspirations?
- What have you done to try to solve your problems/achieve your goals?
- How well did it work?
Based on your data, you can create content for each stage of your sales funnel and help prospects move down your pipeline. You can also take the help of content marketing tools to create content for all stages that will make you stand out.
2. Capture Your Audience’s Attention
The only way your sales funnel works is if you can lure prospects into it. Without prospects and people interested in your business, there is no sales funnel. This means putting your content in front of your target audience.
Hire an agency that knows all about content marketing, an SEO company preferably. They will take the organic route and post a lot of diverse content across all of your platforms. Branch out with different content forms like infographics, flipbooks, videos, social media content, and other types of content. Organic traffic includes:
- Social media traffic (non-paid)
- Referral traffic (from other sites linking to you)
- Direct traffic (from people who know about your brand and have visited your website before)
You can add forms and popups to your website to capture leads. You can also run a few ads or do prospecting manually. The ideal place to run such campaigns depends on where your target audience hangs out. If you’re selling B2B, LinkedIn prospecting or LinkedIn ads might be the perfect solution. Always be open to A/B testing.
3. Build a landing page
Do you know that landing pages are the least liked sign-up forms? But we will still recommend that you build a landing page. Why? You may ask. And you have a right to do so! Landing pages are recommended because they have the highest conversion rate, 24%, to be exact.
Your ad and other content need to take your prospects somewhere. This is where a landing page with a cant-miss offer comes in. If they click on an ad, sign up for a webinar, or download an ebook, they’ll go to a landing page.
Your landing page should communicate who you are as a company and your unique benefits. Focus on capturing leads instead of pushing sales. This could be the one and only opportunity you have to impress your prospects and capture them.
Make sure the landing page has a form for prospects to enter their information. You want to capture their email address so you can continue to communicate with them to steer them toward the next step. Your landing page should also have a bold CTA (call to action) that tells them exactly what to do, whether it is downloading a free eBook or reading a blog.
4. Offer something valuable
Continuing on the subject of landing pages, you don’t want your leads to land on a landing page and find out that you only ask them to purchase your product without offering something valuable for them to take action.
To motivate your leads to take action, offer them discounts or a coupon code. You can offer access to some gated content if they take action and complete the purchase. However, make your offers available for a limited time. A sense of urgency is noted to boost sales by 6% to 9%. Therefore, make use of urgency and see your sales skyrocket.
5. Nurture the prospect
For your sales funnel to be effective and profitable, it’s important that the maximum number of prospects should reach the end of the funnel. For it to happen, however, nurturing is required at the top of the funnel (at the Awareness and Interest stages).
So, to nurture the prospects, make their interactions with your brand meaningful by providing them content that helps them understand it better, like how-to guides, eBooks, checklists, surveys, and case studies.
You can involve your customer support team to nurture the prospects and guide them on how they can get the most out of your products and services.
6. Create an Email Drip Campaign
Now that you have captured leads through the landing page, you need to communicate with them in order to close them.
Market to your leads through email marketing by providing valuable and engaging content. Send updates regularly, but not too frequently. Maybe one or two emails per week should suffice. It totally depends on your audience and what you have to offer.
Start by educating your prospects first. Send them educational content rather than promotional content. Build up to the sales later. First answer questions like:
- What do they want to learn?
- What obstacles and objections do you need to overcome to convince them to buy?
At the end of your drip campaign, make an incredible offer they can’t resist. That’s the piece of content that will inspire your leads to act and make a purchase.
7. Keep the communication going
Once your prospects convert into paying customers, you don’t forget about them. Continue to reach out to them. Keep sending them educational content that might be useful to them. Thank them for their purchase and send them regular updates on any promotions or sales. Involve them in your social media strategy and build a community out of your customers to develop brand trust and loyalty.
8. Upsell, Cross Sell, and Downsell
If the prospects are ready to buy your product or have already made the purchase, you can invite them to buy additional products. You can cross-sell by promoting complimentary products to the products they have already purchased.
There is also a possibility that your prospects might be hesitant to accept your high-tier offers or even medium-tier ones. In such cases, you can downgrade your offer and make it more acceptable to the prospects.