A sales funnel can be defined as the process by which a potential customer progresses from being completely unaware of your business, to becoming an actual paying customer. It’s also called a sales cycle or conversion funnel.
A sales funnel (AKA conversion funnels) are designed to help businesses convert prospects into customers with each consecutive step in the funnel working to eliminate any potential objections, increase their desire for your product or service, and motivate them towards action.
Business owners and marketers alike can get better results by implementing sales funnels to their marketing strategies.
In this article we will touch on the following:
1. What are sales funnels
2. How can they help you with your marketing strategy
3. Why should you use them
4. Examples of how to set up a funnel for your business
5. How to track the success of a funnel
6. Final thoughts on using sales funnels in your marketing strategy
What are sales funnels?
In simple terms, a sales funnel involves a series of steps in which you help guide your prospect to make the decision to buy.
Sales funnels are a proven step-by-step process to help businesses find customers, keep them coming back, and turn first time buyers into loyal fans.
How can they help you with your marketing strategy?
Sales funnels are an ideal way to increase the number of leads that you meet with on a regular basis. They allow you to narrow down the number of people who have shown an interest in your business enough to want more information and make converting more manageable for both you and your sales team.
By implementing a structured funnel into your marketing strategy, you give yourself guidelines for what it takes to move prospects forward through the process of buying from you.
Sales funnels allow you to track the number of people who enter your funnel, and how many prospects turn into customers. By segmenting your funnel based on different types of prospects allows you to customize the message you send them throughout each stage, and give your team opportunities to follow up with leads at certain times to make sure they are moving forward.
Sales funnels not only help you move your prospects down through the process, but track how many people drop off at each step and what reasons they may be which ultimately helps you improve your marketing efforts down the line.
Why should you use sales funnels?
Sales funnels help ensure that you are focusing on quality leads, and increasing loyalty for your existing customer base.
With a sales funnel in place you can focus on making sure the prospects moving through your system are a good fit for what you have to offer, ensuring that the business owners who reach out to you ultimately become clients or customers.
Examples of how to set up a funnel for your business
A typical funnel is made up of five stages:
1. Awareness, 2. Interest, 3. Decision, 4. Purchase, 5. Retention
In an ideal world, your prospects would become aware of you and instantly show interest in what you have to offer.
However, the reality is that few people are actively looking for a new solution at any given time and just by being aware of a brand does not guarantee an immediate sale.
The first step in a traditional funnel attracting people who might want to buy your product or service. This could be accomplished using any number of tactics, such as PPC advertising, SEO optimization, or simply by having a robust website that is appealing to your target market. For many businesses, this means that sales funnels begin with a marketing plan.
Once you have shown enough initial interest to your prospects that they are motivated and ready to buy, we need to take them onto the next stage of the funnel; Interest.
For step two, we need to be able to capture their information in some way. This could mean an opt-in, email address, phone number, or whatever the most effective way might be for your business is. At this point we want to move them into a more direct communication stream that allows you to nurture and educate them on your company, product and service and so that we can maintain that initial interest.
Step three is all about the prospect making a decision of purchasing from you. This is where you are going to need to provide more direction, and potentially offer some products or services that your business provides. At this stage you can try to narrow down the field of prospects so that you aren’t wasting valuable time on people who will not enjoy your services or products.
Once the prospect has made the decision to purchase from you, you need to ensure a smooth purchasing experience that allows them to do so. The most important part of this step is to make sure that the customer remains happy; providing updates and support during and after a purchase can help you do this.
Along with offering ongoing support, you need to think about how you will retain your customers so they are still purchasing from you in the future. This is an often overlooked stage in the sales funnel as a lot of business owners will see a purchase as being the final step. The truth of the matter is that you will want to make sure that the customer is satisfied with their purchase and you are able to retain them for repeat purchases in the future and even have them refer you out to their peers.
Ok so now we know our most important stages in a sales funnel and what to look out for. So what can we do to show initial interest, capture information, and make sure some of these prospects actually become customers?
Consider an indirect sales approach as opposed to a direct one. Let’s look at two different ways of selling products: door-to-door versus online advertising. Both of these examples rely on the same concept – showing initial interest and attraction. Your initial approach to a prospect is vital; you need to make sure that the person who ends up talking to your salesperson/sales ad doesn’t just slam the door in their face, but actually wants and needs what you have to offer.
So how can we show initial interest? Well, this can be done by indirect methods as opposed to direct ones. It is important not to be too pushy or aggressive with your prospects; if you are then they will simply shut down when someone approaches them with something new. They may even just ignore you completely because they don’t want any part of it.
Instead, think about where these people would first start getting interested in what it is that your business has on offer. What are things that they would see or hear as they go about their day?
How do you track the success of a sales funnel?
Most marketers would say that the most important stages in a sales funnel are at the beginning – when you need to show initial interest and attract prospects. However, without tracking where people drop off after they have shown initial interest, it is hard to know if your funnel is working effectively. If you don’t show initial interest, or fail to capture an email address, then what are the chances that person will make a purchase?
You need to have some sort of tracking system in place to ensure that your funnel is moving prospects through successfully. In order to do this, you should consider setting up a Google Analytics funnel for your website. Analytics will help you gain insights into how site visitors move through your funnel and it allows you to dig deeper into exactly what is going on with people at each stage.
If no one is making it through your sales funnel, then it may just not be a worthwhile investment for you. You need to know what is going on with visitors at every stage and why people aren’t completing their purchase so that you can take steps towards fixing the problem.
How do you measure success? What metrics would you use?
There are several ways that businesses measure success through a sales funnel; typically they rely on things like:.. Target leads/visitors, leads turned into customers, conversion percentage from visitors to leads to customers and so on.
Ultimately, you will want a clear picture of how many people are entering your sales funnel and where they are dropping off at each stage. This way you can see what areas need improvement and know whether or not it is worth spending time trying to improve them or if it is better for you just to cut your losses and move on. By knowing exactly where the bottlenecks in your funnel are, then you’ll be able to figure out how best to fix them.
Final thoughts on using sales funnels in your marketing strategy
Sales funnels can be amazing tools for businesses of any size and they allow you to squeeze every last drop out of the interest that people show in your products or service. Whether you are able to make use of a sales funnel for your business depends on how established it is, what type of industry you operate in and what product or service it is that you offer.
Even if a sales funnel isn’t really something that would work for you at this stage, then there may still be some information that you can use to help guide your marketing strategy towards success – no matter what approach you take.