Did you know that a good sales funnel can be the major force behind steady growth? If the answer is no, you’re probably among the majority of companies that have not identified or even attempted to measure a sales funnel. Without it, though, you might find it difficult to convert prospects into loyal customers in the long run. That’s precisely why you should take action and build a sales funnel for your business – and here’s how to do it properly.
Let’s start with the basics: What exactly is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel describes the journey that potential customers go through before they purchase anything. Even though the exact shape of the funnel depends on the business – there are always several steps the prospects have to complete before the transaction happens. Once you’re aware of these stages and outline them well, you can assist your future customers every step of the way, increasing the chances of them making a purchase (and even speeding up the whole process).
What are the stages of a sales funnel?
As already mentioned, the stages might differ – depending on the model you choose, and the specificity of your business. To make it easier to build a well-functioning sales funnel, you can start by dividing it into the following stages:
Stage 1: Awareness
It’s basically when the magic happens, as prospects learn about your existence. Once they do, they automatically enter the sales funnel – which also gives you an opportunity to get to know them better. In fact, the more you know about your prospects, the better you can tailor your efforts to their needs and expectations. This, in turn, should encourage them to proceed to the next stage of your funnel.
Before that happens, though, here’s how you can make the most of the top of your funnel:
- Align marketing and sales. It might not seem like it at first, but the collaboration between those two departments is crucial. Basically, in order to sell anything, you need some sort of a relationship with a prospect. This is when marketing comes in, as its purpose is to engage with a potential customer first, rather than immediately close a deal. The thing is: Once you actually know your prospects, it’s much easier to convince them to buy from you. What you need at the beginning is to build trust, which is very difficult to do if marketing and sales teams work separately.
- Go omnichannel. At this stage, you want to attract as many people as possible, which can be done in multiple ways. The more communication channels you take advantage of, the bigger the chances of reaching your target audience – one way or the other. To start with: If you create relevant and diverse content, make sure it’s well-optimised, and take care of its distribution once it’s published. It can truly help you increase your visibility across content curation and social networks, among others. Yet again, the marketing team should be able to help you out.
- Provide value. In order to catch the attention of your prospects for good, you should give them something valuable in exchange. That’s basically the idea behind any inbound marketing efforts – to “lure” potential customers by responding to their needs. In order to do it effectively, though, you have to know your target audience first. Do your research – both in terms of psychographic features, as well as popular keyword phrases and trending topics. This way, you’ll be able to tailor your marketing & sales efforts to your target customers.
Stage 2: Interest
Once the prospects know about your existence, they might want to check you out thoroughly to see whether your business is a good fit for them. That’s precisely why you should polish your website and make sure it has all relevant information the potential customers might need to make a decision.
- Turn your website into a converting machine. There are many tools and tactics you can take advantage of in order to increase conversions on your site. For starters: make good use of pop-ups, lead magnets, chatbots and appointment scheduling forms to encourage visitors to leave their contact details. At this stage, it’s also important to write proper copy and CTAs – your “intentions” should be clear, simply because it’s your responsibility to take your prospect to the next stage of the sales funnel. Make sure your visitors know exactly what action you expect them to take.
- Empower your prospects. Knowledge is power – especially if you can gain it yourself. Enable your visitors to find relevant information on your business without the need to ask for it. This will make it easier (and quicker) for them to make a decision. Not to mention that great content can work wonders, helping you attract and nurture leads. Start with a detailed FAQ section and a dedicated chatbot that suggests the most suitable pieces of content, as an example.
- Include customer testimonials. Displaying any kind of social proof on your website can actually improve conversion rates – mostly because positive online reviews are likely to influence buying decisions. That’s hardly surprising, given that other customers’ recommendations are more valuable than pretty much anything you say about your business yourself. Therefore, having testimonials on your website will increase trust and encourage your visitors to make a purchase themselves.
Stage 3: Decision
If you’ve been there for your prospects throughout the first two stages, they are likely to trust you enough to make a purchase decision. Sometimes all they need at this point is one little push.
- Create a sense of scarcity and urgency. After all, you’re still trying to convince your leads to finally buy from you. If you want it to happen sooner than later: make them feel like they have one and only chance to do it. Limited offers, special deals, coupons and discounts can help you immensely at this stage (if you keep them as personalised as possible, that is). Depending on your products or services, you can also offer a free assessment, consultation or trial to start a proper dialogue with potential customers.
- Keep everything in your CRM. Having all your customer details in one place (namely, a powerful CRM system) will help you maintain relations with multiple prospects at the same time, and take these relations to the next level. It can work wonders for your sales team, especially if you integrate it with other tools. It will also allow you to measure the performance of your team and spot cracks in your sales funnel, if any.
- Take advantage of remarketing. If your prospects have already shown an interest in your business (or your content) one way or the other, it should be easier to convert them into customers. The good news is: with dedicated tools, you can even retarget potential customers once they click on the links you shared, even if they redirect them to an external website. In such cases, you can add relevant pixels and display a custom CTA as an overlay to bring them to your web page and keep the communication going.
Stage 4: Loyalty
You made it – you turned a prospect into a customer. Sadly, your job here is not done. Driving traffic and generating leads is relatively easy if you compare it with maintaining your customers. It’s definitely worth the effort, though. The research shows that it’s much more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, plus loyal customers are more likely to spend more (and do so more frequently too).
Sadly, there’s no single recipe for success at this point – apart from taking proper care of your customers, as well as offering them support and personalised deals whenever necessary.
Build a sales funnel that works wonders
Keep in mind that every sales funnel is different, and should always be tailored to your business. Also, don’t be afraid to experiment with it. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you should dismantle your funnel completely if you spot any issues – but rather look for areas for improvement and work on it constantly.
Once you have it all figured out – make sure you write all the stages down and create an actual “model” that everyone in your team can become familiar with and refer to. This, along with a proper CRM system, will also help you identify any cracks in your funnel, and optimise it in the long run. After all, a good sales funnel is a well-tested model that can help you convert more prospects into loyal customers.