What is a sales funnel?
It is a way to visualize, measure and optimize the performance of a company’s sales and marketing efforts.
Commonly divided into early, middle and late stages, the sales funnel allows the business to see the different aspects of acquiring, converting and retaining new customers.
While some have argued that the sales funnel is dead, we believe the original intent (to visualize the number of inquiries, leads, and customers) is still a valid and important part of demand generation best practices.
But we also share the view that the customer’s or buyer’s journey from problem to resolution, or from need to solution, is a roundabout journey, perhaps best represented by a flywheel or a flywheel. loop.
Why are sales funnels important?
In summary, building a « conversion funnel » can help businesses improve their relationship with their customers and develop an effective strategy to nurture leads until the end of the buyer’s journey.
This is where some inbound and outbound marketing techniques come into play. Marketers should think of the sales funnel as a device you can use to build customers.
Although it appears that many businesses find customers, a closer look will show you the process involved in generating sales. Simply put, a sales funnel conceptualizes the process of turning potential prospects into loyal customers.
How should marketers use sales funnels?
Paying attention to your sales funnel can improve marketing performance because it provides an ideal process for a customer’s lifecycle. It helps marketers understand:
- Do we have enough leads every step of the way?
- Are prospects converting?
- Are they converting fast enough?
- Are leads valuable to us (quality vs. quantity)?
- Do they stay as clients?
When I was in the SAP software company we were talking about the 4 V of the sales tunnel: Volume, value, variety and viscosity:
- Volume: do we have enough leads at each stage
- Value: what is the value of the pipeline of these prospects
- Variety: do we have enough large, small and medium-sized leads? Is every sales region covered? Each product line? etc.
- Viscosity: Are Leads Moving Through the Funnel? Where are they stuck
We also looked at the 4 V per source and the cost per derivation of all of these permutations. And we made sure we gave the same team what they wanted, when they wanted it. We learned that each year sales want a lot of prospects to contact at the start of the year. But at the end of the year, they only wanted high quality leads.
It seems like a lot to measure. But we were able to optimize the sales funnel so that our most important stakeholder (the sales team!) Was happy with what we were doing.
From a customer perspective, the sales funnel guides the marketing team through the steps necessary to improve a prospect’s experience, from reviewing the product to maintaining brand loyalty.
A constant flow of leads through the sales funnel pipeline keeps the sales cycle stable and reliable.
Stages of a sales funnel
The original sales funnel theory started with a primarily business-focused acronym, AIDA:
- Awareness: the prospect becomes aware of a company
- Interest: They are interested in what the company is selling
- Decision: they compare different solutions
- Action: They make a purchase
Here is one of the many examples of the sales funnel visualized:
The buyer’s journey should focus on the buyers
We prefer to think of the funnel in terms of the customer because it is simply more effective to align marketing and sales efforts with customers.
Short story: In my very first job, I was an account manager at Nielsen and I was assigned a set of clients to manage and sell. I never considered myself arrogant and found the sales process awkward to say the least.
But as a young, ambitious and inexperienced person, I enthusiastically explained our products and services to the accounts I used.
No one was interested. But when I stopped “selling” so hard and started listening to my accounts and understanding their challenges, I found I was able to position our solutions in a much more natural way.
By the end of my first year, I was one of our top sellers.
So instead of AIDA, I like to think in terms of questions:
- What: prospects are not necessarily aware that they have a need but feel the pain of a particular problem or challenge
- Why: The real bulb moment is when they realize that this is an important issue to be addressed. It can help them in their work, career, etc.
- When: What events or triggers highlight the need to make a change. Change is hard, so there has to be a right reason and the right time.
- How? ‘Or’ What: brands that help buyers learn more about the solution and also how to navigate the many options, gain more trust with buyers.
- Who: this is where buyers will start looking for alternatives to compare
- How much: Ultimately, they need to know the cost and potential ROI of a solution
For us, the brands that answer these questions are the ones that win. That’s why our content marketing packages and annual content plans tie content to the buyer’s journey and seek to help our customers become the trusted source of information.
Sales funnels optimize marketing and sales teams
In a study by Regalix Research, 87% of marketers said they prioritize using intent data in the customer’s buying journey.
Indeed, analyzing what motivates prospects at each stage of the sales funnel is essential to the success of a marketer or salesperson. In addition, a well-used sales funnel will ensure that the initiatives of each stage are well thought out and directly stimulate a specific action.
It is not enough to simply run generic sales promotions to potential customers. In today’s highly saturated market, rising above the noise is not enough to secure a buy.
Feed your prospects every step of the way by getting them exactly what they need, when they need it most. Using the sales funnel as the basis of your target marketing strategy ensures that you are doing everything you can to maximize your conversion rates.
Build and optimize your sales funnel
We help our clients create and optimize their sales funnel by reaching, engaging and converting new customers by educating their prospects at every stage of the sales funnel.
We start by identifying all the questions your customers have. We then create a content plan to deliver the answers they need, when they need them.
We’re also helping some of our startup clients create landing pages, email newsletters, paid promotion and conversion strategies so they can start showing ROI.
You don’t have to go it alone. If you’re ready to drive more traffic to your site with consistently posted quality content, check out our content creation service.
Arrange a quick review and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Start today and generate more traffic and leads for your business.