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What is a sales funnel?

A sales funnel shows you how leads are progressing through the various stages of your sales process. The shape resembles a funnel, with new leads on top passing through various stages of qualification.

According to Gartner, a sales funnel is “the process of identifying where prospective customers are in the sales pipeline (from need identification to conversation).”

The sales funnel and the 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.

You can think of a sales funnel as a representation of the customer journey, highlighting each step a prospect has to take to become a customer.

Meanwhile, a sales pipeline is seen from the point of view of salespeople. Gartner defines it as a tool for converting leads into sales. The sales pipeline provides sales leaders with a visual representation of the different stages of the sales process. Managing the sales pipeline requires consistent monitoring and review of pipeline processes and sales KPIs.

The customer and their journey are the focus of the sales funnel, whereas the sales rep and the sales process are the focus of the sales pipeline.

Why is a sales funnel important?

The sales funnel offers insights into the quality of your leads, conversion rate, and average sales volume. It helps you explore how leads progress through the funnel and which tactics seem to work.

The biggest sales funnel benefits are:

  1. Find and fix the problematic stages in the funnel: Examining the funnel will help you understand where most of your leads drop off – the weak stages and reasons for the drop-off. Remedying the situation can help you improve your conversion rate and boost sales.
  2. Get more qualified leads: Analyzing the prospects dropping off also helps you gauge whether your lead generation strategy and messaging is on point. The insights will help you tweak your overall sales and marketing strategy to attract better sales qualified leads, leading to faster conversions and business growth.
  3. Deliver the right messages at the right time: A detailed funnel builds a clear picture of your prospect’s needs at each stage. Using this information, you can craft relevant and personalized messages that appeal to your prospects and nurture them down the funnel. This approach sparks interest, engagement, and avoids frustrated drop-offs.
  4. Understand how to harness customer loyalty: Since you can optimize each stage of the funnel, your prospects will have a great customer experience, thereby fostering loyalty. The insights on each funnel stage can also help you explore ways to upsell that further cement customer loyalty.

What are the various stages of a B2B sales funnel?

The six stages of a B2B sales funnel are:

At this stage, the prospects have never heard of you and aren’t familiar with your offerings. Your goal is to develop a lead generation and content strategy that would transform these cold prospects into potential sales qualified leads. You should be clear about your brand, value proposition, customer pain points, and how you address them.

Once the prospects are aware of your offerings and seem to be interested, the next step is to engage with them. Since this is the first time a sales rep will have a conversation with a prospect, it’s crucial to focus on specific problems/pain points and try to solve them, instead of just rattling off product features.

After understanding your offer, the prospect will compare you to other solutions in the market. At this stage, your goal is to ensure your solution and its pricing appeal to the prospect.

Even if a prospect is interested in your solution, there’s no guarantee that they will buy. That’s why you should work with the prospect to assure that you’ll meet all their requirements and resolve all concerns, such as timelines, payment options, scalability, and more. If the prospect is still considering another offer, you should find out how to match that offer and provide the prospect with more value.

B2B sales is complex and involves several decision-makers and involves several processes. So, it’s vital to have a smooth purchase experience so that the prospects can wrap up the paperwork, process payments, and close the deal seamlessly.

Existing B2B customers already have a solid relationship with your brand and have witnessed a great customer experience. Moreover, loyal customers are the best brand ambassadors for any company. So, it would be best if you worked on building that loyalty further with enticing upsells, offers, deals, and more.

At this stage, the prospects have never heard of you and aren’t familiar with your offerings. Your goal is to develop a lead generation and content strategy that would transform these cold prospects into potential sales qualified leads. You should be clear about your brand, value proposition, customer pain points, and how you address them.

Once the prospects are aware of your offerings and seem to be interested, the next step is to engage with them. Since this is the first time a sales rep will have a conversation with a prospect, it’s crucial to focus on specific problems/pain points and try to solve them, instead of just rattling off product features.

After understanding your offer, the prospect will compare you to other solutions in the market. At this stage, your goal is to ensure your solution and its pricing appeal to the prospect.

Even if a prospect is interested in your solution, there’s no guarantee that they will buy. That’s why you should work with the prospect to assure that you’ll meet all their requirements and resolve all concerns, such as timelines, payment options, scalability, and more. If the prospect is still considering another offer, you should find out how to match that offer and provide the prospect with more value.

B2B sales is complex and involves several decision-makers and involves several processes. So, it’s vital to have a smooth purchase experience so that the prospects can wrap up the paperwork, process payments, and close the deal seamlessly.

Existing B2B customers already have a solid relationship with your brand and have witnessed a great customer experience. Moreover, loyal customers are the best brand ambassadors for any company. So, it would be best if you worked on building that loyalty further with enticing upsells, offers, deals, and more.

How can you create a sales funnel?

Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a sales funnel:

  1. Identify the pain points of your ideal customer and figure out how you can help them. Also, map the various stages of the sales funnel and qualifying criteria.
  2. Define your business goals.
  3. Use a solid content strategy to attract relevant prospects and generate qualified leads.
  4. Develop a lead nurturing strategy to convert prospects faster and move them further down the funnel.
  5. Nurture the qualified leads down the funnel and quickly close the deal with the right prospects.
  6. Monitor conversions at each stage of the sales funnel and explore ways to improve them.

Wingman helps you gather insights to optimize your sales funnel

Prospects dropping off while moving from one stage of the sales funnel to the next is a leading cause of revenue leak.

Wingman helps you improve the conversion rate by offering unique, real-time insights about your prospects.

What’s next?