In today’s hyper-competitive business landscape, having a strong sales funnel is essential for success. A sales funnel refers to the journey a potential lead goes through when following your sales process, from initially discovering your business to becoming a prospect, and ultimately transitioning into a client. Optimising your sales funnel can help you increase conversions, improve customer retention, and ultimately, grow your business.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into how to optimise your sales funnel for maximum growth. We’ll cover everything from the basics of a sales funnel to advanced strategies that can help you take your sales to the next level. So, let’s get started!
Understanding the Basics of How a Sales Funnel Works
The idea of a sales funnel is nothing new, in fact the idea of a sales funnel dates right the way back to the late 1800’s when E. St. Elmo Lewis developed a marketing model, known as a purchase model or purchasing model that portrayed the hypothetical path a customer would take from the stage of attracting customers to the ultimate purchase of a product or service. In modern times the name has changed from purchase/purchasing model to what is now known as a sales funnel, conversion funnel or purchase funnel.
To optimise a sales funnel, it is important that we understand how one works. The typical sales funnel consists of four stages:
Awareness: This is the stage where a potential customer first becomes aware of your business. This could happen through personal selling, referral, social media, search engines, your website or other sales and marketing channels.
Interest: Once a potential customer is aware of your business and potentially interested in purchasing your products or services, they may start to show interest and research more details. This could involve watching a video on your website, downloading some content, checking out your reviews or signing up for your email newsletter.
Decision: At this stage, the potential customer is considering making a purchase. They may be reviewing your proposition, comparing your business to competitors and weighing the pros and cons of each option.
Action: The final stage is when the potential customer makes a purchase or takes another desired action, such as signing up for a free trial or scheduling a consultation.
This is a basic outline of a sales funnel but once you go deeper into each process you can then begin to break the stages down into actionable points such as introducing products and services, selling proposals, and negotiating terms.
What are the Differences in Sales Funnel Types?
A sales funnel typically consists of several stages, each representing a step in the process of converting a lead into a customer.
However, there are different models of sales funnels with varying numbers of stages, such as 4-stage or 5-stage funnels. The main difference is in the level of detail and specificity of the stages.
A 4-stage funnel may combine the Awareness and Interest stages into one stage, as they are both focused on introducing the potential customer to the product or service and generating interest.
A 5-stage funnel may include additional stages such as Evaluation, where the potential customer compares your product or service with others in the market, or Advocacy, where satisfied customers recommend your product or service to others.
The choice of which sales funnel model to use depends on the specific business and its sales process. A simpler funnel may be more appropriate for a business with a straightforward sales process, while a more complex funnel may be necessary for a business with a longer and more involved sales cycle.
How to Create a Sales Funnel
Creating a sales funnel for your business is key to be able to move potential leads from the initial contact stage to the stage of final sale. Throughout, you can track progress of your leads by analysing their journey, behaviour, and engagement. This allows you to tailor your sales approach as well as being able to determine how well your sales funnel is working.
There are many different approaches you can take as a business to create a sales funnel, depending on the type of business and industry that you’re in. At Firestarter we recommend taking the following steps to create a sales funnel for your business that co-ordinates your marketing and sales activities:
Build an optimised landing page
Landing pages are a key component to the sales funnel as they are typically your lead’s first interaction with the business. American Vaudeville performer Will Rogers once said ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’; this statement should echo in your ears when creating an impressionable landing page. Your landing page should be designed and optimised to firstly attract leads but to also capture their information, Optimizely have offered some great tips for getting started with landing page optimisation.
Your landing page is highly likely to be your only opportunity to impress potential leads, so make sure to include strong copy, key brand messaging and limit the number of actions people have to take to submit their data (don’t make them tell you their life story just to get their phone number).
Offer gold standard resources
After you have generated leads and captured data, it’s important to remember that your prospects may not yet be ready to make a purchase decision, so you need to develop effective methods for nurturing and building relationships to guide them through the sales funnel. Effective lead nurturing can involve one or a combination of the following:
- Email marketing campaigns
- Creating targeted advertising campaigns based on customer data and behaviour
- Personalised follow-up messaging and communications
- Social media engagement and interactions
- Offering valuable content such as whitepapers, case studies, and webinars
- Conducting surveys or feedback requests to gather insights and improve the customer experience
Nurturing your leads can sometimes seem like a balancing act, over nurturing a lead can make them feel like they are being poked with a stick but not making enough contact enough can make them lose interest. Always be mindful when setting up forms of contact with your leads, typically once or twice a week is a good starting point. The key point with lead nurturing is knowing when the time is right to adapt your approach to close the sale.
Closing the sale
Sales closing is one of the most important and difficult sales skills to master, but developing a closing mentality is key to success. With enough effective nurturing, your leads should be at a stage where they are red hot and are ready to receive an offer. By having a structured approach to closing sales you should find more success when converting qualified leads into paying customers. If you employ various techniques and strategies to address objections, and create urgency, you will ultimately secure the sale.
Here at Firestarter, we have established proven sales processes that enhances business performance and accelerates growth. Our approach is specifically crafted to optimise efficiency, consistency, and customer satisfaction, ultimately leading to superior outcomes for our valued clients.
All of the points above and more are covered in detail on our Better Business Development sales training course, specifically designed to help people become better at selling.
Optimising Your Sales Funnel for Growth
Finally, the main part, optimising your funnel for growth. Optimise and automate.
Once your sales funnel has been established it is important to remember that your work isn’t over. Sales funnels change with the times, your resources may become outdated, the content you provide to your leads may seem less relevant as the world changes. To optimise your sales funnel it’s wise to be proactive, try focusing on one stage of the sales funnel at a time, you may want to start at the top of the funnel before working your way down.
If you start taking actions in the order that you created your sales funnel you are essentially refreshing your sales funnel with each optimisation.
Review and evaluate your landing page
Start off by analysing the statistics of your landing page, are you getting the desired number of conversions versus sessions? Is your call to action (CTA) strong enough?
The end goal of converting on your landing page relies heavily on both content and a strong CTA, if your content isn’t engaging enough you may need to conduct further market research to help develop content that resonates with the persona of your lead’s. Furthermore, if your CTA and on-page indicators that help point leads in the direction of data entry aren’t clear or optimised you will struggle to generate leads.
Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) can help improve the effectiveness of your landing page by identifying areas that need improvement and implementing changes to increase the number of conversions. According to Moz’s guide on Conversion Rate Optimisation, having a clear and compelling CTA is crucial in converting your website visitors into customers.
Improving sales funnel conversion rates with A/B Testing
A/B testing has become and increasingly popular method to help increase conversion rates, many sales tools and CRM systems now have integrated features that help with A/B testing. You can integrate A/B testing into many avenues of your sales funnel such as comparing two different versions of a web page, email, or other marketing elements, to determine which one performs better in terms of conversion.
By testing different variations of your marketing materials and analysing the results, you can make data-driven decisions to optimise your sales funnel and improve your conversion rates.
Automate your sales funnel for Growth
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is the single most powerful tool you can use to automate your sales funnel. A CRM can help you manage and track interactions with leads and customers, allowing you to tailor your approach and personalise communication. The automation of everyday manual tasks such as follow up emails, appointment scheduling can be crucial to freeing up time for your sales team to focus on relationships with leads and closing sales.
By incorporating a CRM into your sales funnel, you can optimise the process for growth and increase your chances of converting leads into sales.
The key takeaway with sales funnel optimisation is that a sales funnel is crucial for any business seeking success in the current competitive market. But by optimising your sales funnel, your company can increase conversions, improve customer retention, and ultimately grow!