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6 Essential Stages of a Top-Notch B2B Sales Funnel

6 Essential Stages of a Top-Notch B2B Sales Funnel

Anirban Banerjee
Anirban Banerjee
August 30, 2022
5 min read

As a salesperson this should be your top priority.

We are talking about A B2B sales funnel. If you don’t know what a sales funnel is, then you might be shooting arrows in the dark as you go about your selling efforts. 

A sales funnel is responsible for managing the efficiency of your sales process. It gives the sales rep insights into challenges and the corresponding changes that they call for across the sales process. In doing so, a sales funnel optimizes your strategies and increases your conversion rate!  

What is a B2B sales funnel?

Sorry sales team, enough about you! The B2B sales funnel is about the B2B buyer’s journey. 

B2B sales funnel is a B2B buyer's journey from being a complete stranger to a brand to becoming a loyal B2B customer of that brand. It is not very different from a B2C sales funnel as far as its stages go. B2C and B2B funnels would instead be unique from one another in the actions that salespersons would take at each stage of the funnel. 

Every stage in the marketing funnel informs the sales rep about the prospect’s likes and dislikes. Technically speaking, a B2B sales funnel shows the conversion rate in each stage. And thereby gives you an idea of how fruitful the currently adopted strategy is at each stage.  

The concept of sales funnel and sales pipeline go hand in hand. While a sales funnel measures the success and failure of the actions taken by the salesperson, a sales pipeline is a road map of these actions. 

Importance of a sales funnel for a B2B sales

A B2B sales funnel is as important as your business model. Just like you would not start a business without figuring out your manufacturers and supply chain, it would be a poor decision to start selling your product without creating a marketing funnel.

A B2B sales funnel helps you accelerate growth by identifying the weak stages, or the stages where you are losing prospects. The very fact that the sales funnel is an inverted pyramid means that you will lose leads at every stage - the point is to identify where you are losing more leads than you should or to try and push the number of conversions by identifying where you can do better.  

Tip: A sales funnel tailored to your business and sector helps you achieve more and faster! 

Now let’s dive deep into the sales funnel and explore each stage. 

6 Essential Stages of a B2B Sales Funnel

1. Awareness

A crowd of cold prospects is standing at the mouth of your sales funnel, ready to start their customer journey. 

The key point here is that the prospect is completely unaware of your brand. They have no clue that a service exists which can alleviate their pain point. 

There might be some who don't even know how to define their pain points. 

At this stage, you have to identify the cold prospects that could derive value from your product. Don’t worry about making sales in the brand awareness stage. Your goal is to only identify the potential customers.

Start off with solid research and case studies. You should have a clear idea about your own brand values and products and then go on finding the ideal customer who is in need of them. Use social media, LinkedIn and count those interactions on your landing page and apps.

Creating a B2B buyer’s persona helps in building a mental picture of your prospects. Some will argue that you should not generalize or stereotype people. But the truth is that a B2B buyer’s persona helps you to get a general idea of what the mindset of the majority of your target audience is. It gives you an idea about the kind of prospects you should be searching for. 

When you feed the sales funnel with the right leads, you improve your chances of higher conversion rates at later stages in the sales funnel.

You can either go out there and find leads or create content that will lead them to you (although it might be best to try a combination of both approaches). Finding leads involves going through the company’s database to find potential B2B buyers and then cold emailing or calling prospects

Apart from email marketing,  content creation, on the other hand, is like leaving bread crumbs on the road for your prospects. 

You can leverage content marketing and write informational blogs, quizzes, videos and content related to the topics that matter to them. The aim should not be to advertise your product but rather to solve their pain points while you position your product as a good solution to eliminate their struggles.

The people who interact with your content and website are also potential B2B buyers whom you can contact. You can include a form where people leave their contact details in return for a free download of something useful like a cheat sheet, white paper, or market research. 

When you do talk to prospects, be sure to ask questions so that you ensure that you have found your (sales funnel) match!

Sales Team! Remember, that this stage is devoted to lead generation. Developing an interest in your product comes in the next part.

2. Discovery

You have your lead, and they are ready to listen to you. At this stage, you have to nurture the lead. Engage them with the information that they will find genuinely useful. It shouldn’t be so hard if you took our advice and asked questions in the previous stage.

This is the first time when the sales rep actually has a conversation about the product. You have a ready opportunity to develop interest.

The prospect already knows that they are experiencing a pain point. The sales rep should focus on specific problems and try to solve these instead of just rattling off product benefits and offers. 

You should be able to build trust. You don’t want to create the impression that you are yet another salesperson shoving products down their throat. Show some empathy towards their pain points, or at least put your most empathetic face on. Keep your conversation relevant, focused (on solving their problems), and honest.

This stage provides a genuine solution to the prospect’s problem. Throw in a demo or get on a discovery call to convert the lead into a prospect. 

3. Evaluation

The prospect has been listening to you and will now compare and negotiate. Some salespeople take offense at this. But evaluation is natural. When you aren’t wearing your salesperson's hat and you are buying things, don’t you compare prices? Heck, you even do that when comparing clients; you know, landing big fish is a high priority than closing smaller deals. Remember to hold on to that empathetic face we talked about in the previous stage. 

It is possible that the prospects have been hearing sales calls from different businesses. It is only natural that they will compare your offer with offers from your competitors.  

What will make you stand out? To be honest, we don’t want either ‘B’ in a B2B to book a loss. Thus, you should keep the financials of your prospect in mind. Provide an offer that is tailored to their needs and also their pockets. Allow them to get a taste of the value you bring to the table by inviting them to start small if they lack budgets (or simply aren’t willing to go all in. 

When the prospects find that the solution will be able to work out for them, then they will develop an intent to purchase. 

4. Intent

They are interested, and they have an intent to buy. You are only one step away from converting a prospect into a paying B2B customer. It could still go either way, though: buy-buy-buy or bye-bye-bye. 

Just because the prospect shows an intent doesn’t mean they will definitely make a purchase. You need to work together with the customer to fulfil their requirements. These could be timelines, payment flexibility, scalability, or mode of delivery.

Based on the satisfactory results of this discussion, the prospect will either make or not make a purchase. No pressure! 

Use your honed salesperson sense to figure out if you’re losing the prospect anytime during this stage. If you’ve built a strong bond with your prospect - which is easier in B2B since you share a sort of kinship that comes from working in the same sector - you can hope that they will be upfront if they are considering another option. You may want to ask what is more tempting about the competing offer and try to match it (provided you are not damaging your profitability or underpricing in any way). Another approach would be to throw in a value-add, especially if you have something that your competitors do not. 

5. Purchase

Your product is …

The cold lead has turned into a paying B2B customer. They are ready to buy and what they are looking for is a seamless transaction. 

You cannot afford to have a shaky mode of payment. Ensure that they don’t face any inconvenience while understanding the instructions to make a payment. There should be sufficient options available for them as far as modes of payment go.  

Once they make the payment, then it is your responsibility to make a timely delivery that goes through without a hitch. The last stage tells you why.

6. Loyalty 

Loyalty pays dividends to salespersons in the long run!

Existing B2B customers are a major component of your marketing strategy. They are the testimonials of your product who will put in a good word for you. This can be used as an incentive to generate new customers for you. They can also be re-targeted. But only if they had a good experience working with you in the first place. 

Now it must make sense that timely delivery is necessary. And not just that. The relationship that you have built goes a long way. You need to maintain that trust. 

Make follow-up calls to ensure that they are not facing any issues with the product. And accept feedback gracefully. Work to improve your product if serious complaints emerge. 

Customer experience is the key to maintaining a healthy customer relationship. High-quality customer support and assistance ensure that they don't have trouble using your product. 

You may not have any control over how dedicated your customer service team is, but you can be responsive and open if your prospect-turned-customer is not getting the support they need. You need not do the work for the customer service team. But maybe you can pull some strings internally to ensure that your customer’s needs are met.

Your customers are not a closed chapter after you have made a sale. It is your responsibility to maintain a long-lasting bond with them. 

Let Wingman do the job!

Our AI-powered sales platform is made to walk you through your B2B sales funnel. It helps you with actionable insights like sales metrics, conversion aids, and more. Your Wingman does the measuring and insight-building for you. Isn’t that what a Wingman is supposed to do? Have your back? 

 

Wingman can accelerate the sales process with real-time analysis so that you make better decisions on your sales call. It can be integrated with important business tools such as CRM, dialer, and Slack. 

We are not stagnant; we are constantly evolving, right in step with your business and prospects evolving. 

Convert your prospects on your first call when you use Wingman. Book a demo today!

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