In simplistic terms, the sales or marketing funnel is each step that someone takes in order to become your client/customer.
At the top of that funnel, lots of visitors arrive who may never have heard of your business before and the Sales Funnel concept helps you to understand the decision-making process or journey that they go through until coming out the bottom as paying clients.
Now that was the simple overview, in reality, your potential buyers and those involved in the decision-making process are busy focusing on their own businesses, have more choice than ever before and have more complex buying needs. Therefore, it’s important to focus your marketing & sales efforts at the right point of the decision-making process. Many of us have received a connection request from a complete stranger on LinkedIn and then their first message is “would you like a demo of our fantastic widget that we don’t know whether you actually need“; frustrating and a sure way to alienate future dialogue.
Joining up your marketing and sales activities – focusing the right techniques & messages at the right point of the decision-making journey – is more efficient for your marketing spend and more likely to end up with a sale.
Here is a step-by-step guide through a typical sales funnel and how you can create one
This is the top of your marketing funnel, generating awareness of your business and products/services you offer. One key strategy many firms adopt is inbound marketing, designed to draw potential customers to you and your services – commonly achieved through persuasive and well-executed content marketing and social media activities.
Key goals you may have could be increasing brand awareness, building your following on social media, building your email marketing list of prospective customers and/or increasing the volume of traffic to your website.
Examples of tactical activity depending on your goals could be blogs, social media updates, PR, videos, infographics, email marketing, events/conferences, viral campaigns, referrals, influencers, online advertising, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC).
Once leads are generated, they move on to the interest stage, where they learn more about your business, what you offer, and any helpful information/resources you provide. Here is an opportunity to develop a relationship with the people in your lead database / CRM and introduce your positioning in the market.
The goal here is to establish your expertise, help the consumer make an informed decision, and offer to help them in any way you can.
Tactical activity ought to be around crafting stories and sending content that helps not sells, while the channels can be similar to building awareness, e.g. blogs, social media updates, PR, videos, infographics, email marketing, events/conferences, viral campaigns, referrals, influencers, online advertising, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC).
The middle of your marketing funnel activity is about improving engagement with all the contacts, website visitors and social media followers you have built, to help them understand your USP and guiding them through the customer journey decision-making process, nurturing them until they are ready to buy.
Key goals might be to increase the number of newsletter signups, improve open rate on your email marketing, increase time visitors spend on your website, lower website bounce-rate, achieve a target number of downloads, achieve target attendance on your webinars.
Examples of activity could be ebooks, whitepapers, video/PDF guides, product information sheets, drip campaign emails, newsletters, reports, templates/toolkits, awards/directory submissions or webinars.
This is the decision stage of the sales funnel is when your qualified prospect is ready to buy, but they may be weighting you up against other suitors. So, how do you position yourself as the number 1 option? Beyond the art of storytelling, copywriting and building the habit of link-clicking, think about demonstrating confidence e.g. customer reviews and testimonials, and/or paid re-targeting advertising to keep awareness and interest level high.
The key goal here is to present such an irresistible proposition that your prospect can’t wait to take advantage of it.
Examples of activity could be client case studies, online reviews, re-targeting via Google, Facebook or LinkedIn.
The bottom of your marketing funnel is all about achieving commitment and ultimately sales, converting potential customers who are interested and engaged in what you offer, favour you over your competitors and now ready to buy. The focus here is communicating a compelling reason to act now!
The key macro goal will ultimately be sales, but you may have other micro-goals depending on how you use a funnel, e.g. increasing the number of contact form submissions on your website.
Activity for most businesses should see the marketing & sales representative joined up right until the sale and even beyond as you look to retain and foster loyalty with your clients. Examples of activity could be reviewing pitch proposal and presentation template documents, calls to action (CTA) in all your comms, conversion rate optimisation (CRO) of your website and landing pages, customer journey mapping or analysing & improving your customer signup process.
Creating and optimising a sales funnel takes time with plenty of strategic marketing thought & planning. However, in the long run, it’s such an efficient way to focus limited marketing resource in a competitive marketplace. The above is just an example, take time to build out a marketing / sales funnel that matches up with both your and your potential buyer needs & wants. And if you need a hand, feel free to get in touch.