Wouldn’t it be fantastic if every single one of your leads resulted in a sale? Yes, of course! However, in the real world of sales and marketing, this is not the case. This is where a sales funnel, also known as a marketing funnel, can help.
When it comes to sales funnels, marketing generates traffic at the top and middle of the sales funnel. Prospects are transferred to the sales team as they get closer to making a purchase. To facilitate this, communication between Marketing and Sales is maintained, and the goals and priorities of each department are aligned.
A sales funnel can help you track your leads as they progress closer to becoming paying customers.
- A sales funnel is a tool used to track leads as they progress from prospects to customers.
- By examining your sales funnel, you can optimize your sales and marketing efforts.
- A sales funnel consists of three segments: top, middle, and bottom (or high, middle, and low).
Whether you have a brick-and-mortar or an online business, you need to create a sales funnel to attract and convert visitors into customers. The key goal of your sales funnel is to move people through the different stages of the sales process until they are ready to buy your products or services.
What is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel is a marketing system that outlines the best steps to take to sell your services or products. A prospect either advances to the next stage of the funnel because they want to learn more about your product or leaves because they have lost interest.
The prospect is moved through a series of marketing channels to build awareness, trust, and engagement, which closes the gap between being a lead and becoming a customer. It consists of three parts:
- The top of the funnel is the marketing that attracts prospects to your business (e.g., the advertising on your physical storefront, or the landing page of your website).
- The middle of the funnel involves all the parts of your sales process before the sale (e.g., people trying on clothing in your store, or website visitors reading about the benefits of your products).
- The bottom of the funnel is the final purchase (e.g., customers paying for clothes at checkout, or website customers entering their credit card info to complete a purchase).
A sales funnel describes where a customer is in their buying journey, whether they are new to your brand or a brand-loyal repeat customer.
The importance of a sales funnel
The sales funnel shows the path your customers will take to purchase your product or service. Analyzing your sales funnel will help you understand where it fails and where it succeeds. It will also assist you in identifying the gaps in the various stages of your sales funnel (i.e., where prospects drop out and do not convert into customers).
Understanding your sales funnel will allow you to influence how prospects move through it and whether they become paying customers. It will also reveal what customers are thinking and doing at each stage of the sales funnel, allowing you to invest in marketing activities that attract more prospects, develop more relevant messaging at each stage of the sales funnel, and convert more prospects into paying customers.
4 stages of the sales funnel
Prospects will go through four stages of the sales funnel from the time they first learn about your product or service until they buy (or don’t buy) it. The four stages represent a prospect’s mindset, and each stage necessitates a distinct approach to messaging. The acronym AIDA can help you remember the four stages:
The awareness stage is the first stage of the sales funnel. This is the first time someone has heard about your product or service. They may become aware of your brand after seeing your advertising, learning about it on social media, or hearing feedback from friends or family. Alternatively, a prospect may have discovered your company through a Google search that led to your company’s website, seeing one of your ads, or reading your blog.
If the timing is right, the prospect may convert into a customer by clicking a link and purchasing your product. However, you are more likely to have to persuade the prospect to visit your store or website, or to contact you by phone or email, in order for them to engage with your business.
Interest is the second stage of the sales funnel. The prospect has learned about your company, brand, and products or services, and they have decided to evaluate them based on their level of interest.
At this point, you should publish high-quality content that informs and educates prospects without overtly selling to them. If you become too pushy or aggressive in your sales approach during this stage, you risk alienating the prospect and forcing them to leave. Your content should demonstrate your expertise while also assisting the prospect in making an informed decision.
The decision stage is the third stage of the sales funnel. Now, the customer is ready to buy and may weigh several options before making a decision. This is when they will compare pricing, packages, and other factors to determine which option is best for them.
You should make your best offer at this point. You could, for example, offer free shipping, a discount code, or a bonus product when they place their order. The key is to make the offer irresistible so that the prospect will want to proceed and select your offer. Your content can persuade the prospect to take action. Sales pages, webinars, or phone conversations could all assist in converting a prospect into a customer.
The final stage of the sales funnel has begun. When a prospect purchases your product or service, he or she becomes a customer (or they decide to leave without making a purchase). If the customer makes a purchase, they have entered the ecosystem of your company.
Although the sale is complete, the process does not end there. Your goal is to concentrate on customer retention so that the customer will make additional or future purchases. Your content should aid in the development of customer loyalty. Thank the customer for their purchase, ask for feedback, provide after-purchase support, invite them to sign up for your newsletter, or enroll them in a rewards program, for example.
How to build a sales funnel
Creating a sales funnel is critical for moving prospects from the first point of contact to the final sale. The level of behavior and engagement at each stage can then be tracked to determine where the prospect is in the sales funnel and how well it is working.
There are numerous ways to create a sales funnel, and each business and industry has its type of sales funnel. To create a sales funnel for your company, follow these steps:
1. Create a landing page.
The landing page is frequently a prospect’s first opportunity to learn about your company and its products and services. Users may arrive at your landing page in a variety of ways, such as by clicking an ad or link on a social media page, downloading an e-book, or signing up for a webinar.
Your landing page should clearly describe your company as well as the distinct advantages of your product or service. Because the landing page may be your only chance to impress prospects, the copy should be strong and compelling. It should also include a way for you to collect the prospect’s contact information so that you can continue to communicate with them about your value.
2. Offer something valuable.
You must provide something in exchange for a prospect’s email address. You could, for example, provide a free e-book or whitepaper with useful and informative content.
3. Nurture the prospects.
Nurture the prospect with content that educates them about your product or service now that they have shown enough interest to provide their email address. You’ll want to communicate with them regularly (once or twice a week), but not so frequently that they become bored or turned off by the volume of information. Make certain that the content meets their primary needs and overcomes any potential objections.
4. Close the deal.
To close the deal, make your best offer—one that is difficult for the prospect to ignore or reject. You could, for example, offer a product demonstration, a free trial, or a special discount code.
5. Keep the process going.
The prospect has either become a customer or decided not to purchase at this point in the sales funnel. In either case, you should keep communicating and building relationships.
If the prospect becomes a customer, keep the relationship going by educating them about your products or services, engaging them regularly to build loyalty, and providing excellent service to keep them as valued customers. If the prospect does not make a purchase, keep in touch with them via email regularly. Continue to use different email nurturing series to convert them into customers.
6. Optimize your sales funnel.
Even if you’ve built a sales funnel, your work is never finished. You should always be looking for ways to improve and optimize your sales funnel, as well as identify where you are losing prospects. Pay attention to the areas where prospects progress from one stage of the sales funnel to the next.
Begin at the top of the funnel and work your way down. Determine how well each piece of content is performing. Is your initial content capturing enough prospects? Your content’s goal is to entice prospects to click the call to action (CTA). If they are not doing so, or if one piece of content is receiving fewer clicks on the CTA, rework that element or try something different.
Check out your landing page. Your offer and CTA should be similar to the content that brought the prospect to your landing page (e.g., blog post, Facebook ad). Do prospects place their trust in you with their contact information? Test every aspect of your landing page (for example, the headline, images, body copy, and CTA) to determine what works and what does not.
In the action stage of your sales funnel, test each offer. Compare the outcomes of various offers (e.g., free shipping versus discounts). How many sales are you making as a result of your email nurturing campaigns and other marketing efforts? If one offer performs significantly better than the other, concentrate on using that offer to close prospects and see if you can improve on it.
Keep an eye on your customer retention rates. Determine how frequently your customers return to buy your products or services. Do customers return more than once, and do they purchase additional products or services? Keep track of how frequently they refer others to your business.
Sales funnel Frequently Asked Questions
How is a sales funnel different from a marketing funnel?
At the end of the marketing funnel, the sales funnel begins. The marketing funnel increases prospects’ interest in your brand by guiding them from their first interaction to the point where they are curious about your products or services. The marketing funnel also aids in lead generation and nurturing. When a prospect becomes aware of your brand, they move from the marketing funnel to the sales funnel.
What is the difference between a sales pipeline and a sales funnel?
A sales pipeline is a series of steps that convert a prospect from a lead to a customer. Each step is completed by the prospect until they make a purchase and become a customer. The stages of the sales pipeline and the sales funnel are the same, but they are represented differently. The sales pipeline explains the value, quantity, and stage of various open deals at any given time, whereas the sales funnel explains the total number of deals and what percentage of those deals have passed through each stage of the sales process.
What is a sales funnel manager?
A sales funnel manager is responsible for overseeing the customer journey from awareness to action, as well as identifying and closing any leaks in the sales funnel. CRM software automates and streamlines the process of managing the sales funnel, including qualifying leads, tracking prospects’ activities at each stage of the buyer journey, and automatically following up when the time is right. CRM software can also aid in the definition of the sales process, the identification of leaks in the sales funnel, and the streamlining of the conversion process so that prospects reach the bottom of the sales funnel.