• Sales funnel strategy: How to build an effective sales funnel

    If you want to convert website leads into paying customers, you need to make sure that you have an effective sales funnel in place.

    If you fail to do this, you are likely to find that a lot of your web traffic or marketing leads end up going to waste, and you hardly make any money.

    As such, one of your primary goals should be to get an effective sales funnel strategy in place. This needs to move leads from one stage to another until they are ready to make a purchase.

    If you’re not sure how to get started with your sales funnel strategy, or your existing strategy could do with a refresh, this guide is for you.

    Below, we’re going to take a look in detail at what a sales funnel is and how you can build an effective funnel in your business.

    What is a sales funnel and what are the different stages?

    A sales funnel is a marketing and sales concept that maps out the stages a customer goes through when making a purchase with your company. The funnel analogy is used because though you may start with a large number of leads at the top, a smaller fraction of these will convert to a sale at the end.

    Essentially, you can see these numbers of potential sales ‘funnelling’ down through each stage.

    As each lead moves on to the next stage, it suggests a deeper commitment to your business and therefore increases the likelihood of them making a purchase.

    The basic sales funnel strategy is referred to as AIDA and is made up of four stages. These are awareness, interest, decision and action.

    As these are the different steps taken by prospects, it might appear as if the ball is very much in their court.

    However, it’s important to remember there are different stages of the sales funnel strategy for the sales team as well. These different stages are:

    Searching for and identifying leads

    As leads become aware of your products through your marketing campaigns, they might begin to show interest in your business. For example, by engaging with your content, subscribing to your email list or following your business on social media.

    It is at this stage then that you can begin to identify and start to reach the right potential leads.

    It’s important to get the right leads into your sales funnel early on, as the more quality leads you find, the more chances they have of converting to a sale.

    Start building relationships

    At this next stage of your sales funnel strategy, these leads are passed onto the sales team so they can continue to build interest and start forming relationships with prospects.

    This can be done in a number of ways, including:

    • Sharing more content with prospects

    • Sending them valuable information via email

    • Organising phone calls

    • Setting up face-to-face meetings

    It is also at this point that you must determine their individual needs so you can target them more specifically at the next stage.

    Begin to demonstrate value

    In order to help leads make a more informed decision, at stage three, you must demonstrate the value of your goods or services. You can do this by offering demos or free trials. You can also provide them with testimonials from other customers and spend some time answering their questions.

    This is why it is so important that by this stage, the sales team have a strong understanding of their specific needs and requirements. This helps to better demonstrate how your products or services could be the solution to their problems.

    This stage is also very important because this is often the point where most leads drop off.

    Close the sale

    The final part of your sales funnel strategy is closing the sale. This means convincing the lead to take action and make a purchase. At this stage, you might be delivering contracts, taking payments, etc.

    And if all the other stages have been done correctly, there is no reason that the lead should decide to pull out at this final stage.

    How to create a sales funnel

    OK, we now know more about the sales funnel strategy and the different stages within it, but how exactly do you go about creating one? This is such an important task for any business because if you get this wrong, your sales, and therefore profit, are likely to suffer.

    The good news is, we’ve pulled together a guide of nine steps you can take to create an effective sales funnel strategy in your business. These are:

    1. Understanding your target audience

    First and foremost, you need to make sure that your sales team understand their target audience before they can begin to build a sales funnel.

    To do this, they might need to do some research. This includes looking into:

    • The key problems their target audience are seeking solutions for

    • The channels and platforms they use the most

    • What interests them the most

    • Problems they face when trying to find the right provider or solution to their problems

    2. Building your buyer personas

    Based on this research, you can create different buyer personas. This helps with creating targeted marketing campaigns and helping the sales team to know how to better target prospects and offer support for their problems.

    3. Aligning your marketing and sales teams

    A successful sales funnel needs to be a value-rich informational environment that makes the buying journey as easy and enjoyable as possible for the decision-makers.

    So, who creates this value for your prospects? Initially, the marketing team will do research on the market, competitors, buyer personas, etc. and deliver great campaigns to generate leads.

    Then the sales team must deliver value to these prospects.

    As such, there needs to be strong collaboration between the marketing and sales team.

    4. Creating awareness of your goods or services

    With your teams now working in harmony, you need to create awareness of your goods or services and start generating more qualified leads.

    There are several techniques that your business can use to do this:

    • Advertising campaigns

    • Search engine optimisation

    • Landing page optimisation

    • Influencer marketing

    • Content such as blog posts, white papers, guest posting

    • Social media marketing

    5. Engaging your prospects

    But generating leads means nothing if you don’t engage with your audience afterwards. It’s important to make initial contact with prospective customers, and again, there are several ways this can be done. For example:

    • Creating engaging content, including useful videos

    • Offering tutorials of your products

    • Promoting your content on social media platforms

    • Conducting email marketing campaigns to promote relevant content

    6. Ensuring relevant communication at each stage

    Throughout the buyer’s journey from discovery to purchase, the team need to ensure they’re facilitating their buying decisions to move them into the next phase.

    Again, this requires collaboration between the marketing and sales team. This means providing the relevant content, at the right stage, through the right channel.

    For example, sending them relevant white papers or video tutorials to help them see how your products or services can help them.

    7. Finding the balance between persuasive and professional

    Although your sales funnel strategy needs structure, it’s also important to remember that prospects are people. Therefore, the sales team need to find the balance between following a process and being relatable.

    If the seller acts like a robot, or worse, treats the customer like just another number, they’re unlikely to convert. So to a certain extent, your sales funnel strategy needs to be a little bit flexible, and sales professionals need to adapt their behaviour to get the best results and convert leads.

    8. Making it easy to convert

    The ultimate goal of your sales funnel is to convert your prospects into customers, and therefore, lead conversion is the final stage of your funnel.

    To ensure that a customer converts at the final stage, you should make your conversion process as simple as possible. That means ensuring there are fewer steps for completing a purchase, fewer fields to fill in on forms and one-click options to make signing up or making a purchase as easy as possible.

    9. Revisiting and analysing your conversion rates

    Finally, one of the best ways to create a strong sales process is to constantly revisit your sales funnel strategy and determine what works and what doesn’t. This might mean analysing the process and seeing at what point most leads drop off.

    This can help to highlight any areas of weakness, so you can fix the problem and create a strong funnel.

    Are you ready to get an effective sales funnel strategy in place?

    So as you can see, the sales funnel can be broken down into four stages. By following our nine steps above, it is easy enough to start creating a strong sales funnel strategy for your business.

    The key to doing this is:

    • Strong collaboration between the marketing and sales teams

    • Creating awareness and engaging with prospects

    • Ensuring that you’re delivering the right value and content at each stage

    • Making it as easy as possible to make the conversion/purchase

    • Revisiting the funnel throughout to strengthen any areas of weakness

    Do this, and you’ll be able to attract more qualified leads and convert them into more sales.