Your business has a sales funnel, even if you don't know it!
Even when you don’t create one intentionally, your sales funnel is a consequence of every action you take to close deals.
Moreover, you need to be watching your sales funnel if you intend to access growth.
What is a sales funnel?
Think of a sales funnel as a virtual funnel where cold leads go in from the top, and you have to use your sales magic to push them further down the funnel - where hot deals come out from. A sales funnel gives you the number of customers per stage and the conversion rate in each stage.
When you have a sales funnel in place, it becomes easy for you to identify a particularly weak stage and boost the conversion rate there.
The concepts of sales funnel and sales pipeline are interconnected, and if we’re to bite into the concept of sales funnel, we need a little back story about how it connects with the concept of sales pipeline.
A sales pipeline represents the stages that sales reps lead a prospect through, in order to turn them into customers. A sales funnel adds a measurement angle to that roadmap - it offers a visual representation of the number of leads/ customers at every stage of the pipeline.
There are 6 stages to a sales funnel:
- Awareness: Shout your product benefits from the rooftops. At this stage, the prospect becomes aware about your product for the first time and now you have the opportunity to tell them what your product is about.
- Discovery: This is your chance to push them a step further. At this stage, you show a potential customer the usefulness of your product or service and tell them about any ongoing offers and discounts that could spark an interest in them.
- Evaluation: This is where the customers start comparing you with your competitors. At this stage, you offer competitive deals and focus on unique qualities so they choose your product.
- Intent: Once the prospect has chosen you, it’s time to make the final proposal. This involves working out a solution that fits your prospect’s more granular requirements: discussions on product or service delivery timelines, payment flexibility, scalability, mode of delivery and so on might take place at this stage.
- Purchase: Your hard work has paid off, quite literally. At this stage, your prospect turns into a customer and buys your product and you have to make sure that they don’t have any inconvenience during and after the purchase. If you made a delivery timeline commitment, be sure to stick to it.
- Loyalty: You want the customer to keep returning to your product. You also want them to say good things about your product. For this to happen you must provide excellent services and be available to support your customer if he has any difficulties using your product or service. If they have complaints, be sure to take these as constructive feedback. Do everything in your power to ensure that your leads-turned-customers are getting all the assistance they need from your customer support team. This stage is all about building on the customer relationship so that you have a real bond with the customer.
Why is a sales funnel important?
But why do you need to sit and map out a sales funnel? What’s the point? Didn’t we start out saying that it exists whether you create one or not. Why create one then? Just keep at the selling instead right?
Well, for the only reason that matters: to accelerate growth in sales. A sales funnel helps you identify the scope of improvement at the different stages. Once you have visibility into where leads are falling off, you can take a microscope to that stage, figure out why you’re losing them there and increase your conversion rate. Basically it's your ticket to SuccessfulDealsLand.
For example, you are able to sell your product but your customers aren’t coming back for more.
Or they aren’t spreading the word. This means that the loyalty stage in the funnel is weak and you need to strengthen the bond you have with your customers by providing better support and incorporating other strategies.
Let's look at another example. Suppose the intent stage shows weak conversions. One of the reasons could be leads are unable to understand the uniqueness of your product. Or maybe your competitors are giving them better offers. You can fix this easily, but you would have to first know where the gap is, right? You would have to know where they’re falling off the bandwagon in order to keep them on it, or bring them back on.
That’s why a sales funnel is a must-have tool to measure the performance of your sales strategy. It identifies the gaps and helps you optimize your efforts for better sales.
If you read back that last sentence, you’ll notice, we didn’t stop at identifying the gaps. We said identify the gaps and optimize your efforts. That's right. You need a plan and perhaps a set of trusty tools to boost your conversion rates and close more deals.
How to create a conversion-driven sales funnel?
Conversion-driven sales funnels are all about a buyer’s journey to the end. It is about understanding how the customers buy.
Let’s say Bob became your customer after he saw an ad for the cool t-shirts that you have been selling and Tom saw Bob wearing that t-shirt. Tom likes the unique print of the Pink Floyd album and orders one for himself.
Both Bob and Tom are your customers but they entered the funnel in different ways. Both went to the end of the funnel and made a purchase but the sales reps needed to incorporate two different strategies to make such conversions by identifying these paths.
Targeting each sales stage for a higher conversion rate
Conversion rates can be increased systematically if we push each stage of the sales funnel to perform better. Sales teams need to work hard to optimize each stage and help leads reach the next step of the solution in their buying journey and eventually become customers.
The sales funnel stages can be broadly categorized into a three-fold model:
You have to find your customers, they will not find you.
Salespeople need to find leads and let’s face it, today, you need to be really creative about lead generation. But don’t start spamming people indiscriminately. That’s going to increase your getting-blocked rate, not your conversion rate.
The awareness stage is about finding the right customer who will potentially buy the product. Like the customers who are in need of your solution or might desire your solution.
Customers who exhibit certain kinds of behavior are more likely to buy from a range of products. For example, someone who likes to read is more likely to buy a bookmark for the book. So, if you are selling bookmarks, then you need to identify your target audience which is, the readers. Furthermore,according to the books they like, you can sell bookmarks related to those books.
In the top stages, you need to build your brand and send the hype around your product to the customers.
- Blogging: Don’t go on and on about your product! Blogging can be a useful tool to lead the customers to your tool. Write about things that are related to your product so that when someone goes through the blog, they find your product as a perfect fit to satisfy their need.
- Social Media: The age of the internet has made it easy for sales teams to identify the right customers. People tend to join forums or follow certain hashtags. Spreading the word in those communities can be a huge boost. Social Media Network also enables you to publish ads to certain types of customers.
- Public Relations: Old is gold. Cold mailing, calls, outreach, printed ads. In a behavior-driven market, these might sound like traditional ways. But these can’t be undermined when it comes to increasing conversion rates.
In this next stage, it’s time to capitalize on that attention that you worked so hard to get!
The middle stages of the sales funnel are your quest to be better. You need to gain the trust of the prospect and offer them something they can’t say no to. To ace this, answer a simple question: Why should they choose you?
- You have to engage your customers on your website’s landing page through rich content like videos, photos and blogs.
- Keep in touch with them by sending emails, and newsletters.
- Answer their queries promptly when they reach out. Also, keep your FAQ page active and updated
- Send them discounts and deals.
- Keep analyzing your web pages for user engagement.
- Provide case studies and white papers
- Leverage email marketing.
- Focus on the customer experience and the customer journey.
You are almost at the finish line. Just a few more paces and you’ll be rushing past it, the victory flag waving in your face! Your cold lead is just inches away from becoming your customer. It’s not yet time to sit down though. You need to make sure that the buying process is optimized with no pain points.
At this point, it helps to d enhance the desire to buy and create a sense of urgency. You can try talking about free trials, limited-time deals, and discounts to increase the chances of conversion.
The payment modes available to the lead and the check-out links should be faultless. You really don’t want leads dropping off for these easily fixable factors.
Congratulations, you have closed a deal!
… but that is not enough.
You want the customers to return for more or put in a good word for you. Customer relationships are long-lasting and a bad break-up is messy and expensive.
We’re not saying that you should follow-up with existing customers and annoy them so that they never want to see you or your brand again. You must offer support but make sure it is inobtrusive. Make sure that they receive the support they need when they ask for it. Invite them to webinars or share insights with them to stay on top of their minds. You can also send them promotions and information. It is cheaper to maintain old customers than finding new ones.
That said, always offer them the option of unsubscribing because you don’t want to become subconsciously slotted under “pests” or “spammers” if you’re emailing your customers more than they want to hear from you.
As you might have gathered, the whole idea behind a sales funnel is to determine the conversion rate of each stage and improve upon it. In other words, you need to maintain constant tabs on the success of each stage and the entire sales funnel.
This requires going back to each stage and measuring whether the customers have heard about the product. Did they find better products? And most importantly, are they coming back to you?
Measuring the success of the funnel means you need to measure the outcome of your selling action and your customer's buying reaction.
Wingman to the rescue
Our AI-driven sales intelligence platform helps you measure the success of each stage of the sales funnel. It provides metrics and insights on your sales calls, deals, and more - to improve the entire sales process with the help of data-driven analytics.
This is not a traditional data analyzer that will give you static statistics. Instead, Wingman stands by you in real-time on your sales call and helps sales reps make the right decision.
Wingman can be seamlessly integrated with other business tools such as CRM, dialer, and Slack. It manages your sales funnel for you to achieve a higher conversion rate. Get a comprehensive analysis of your sales funnel with Wingman. Book a demo today!