Sales funnels are right for businesses that rely on a high degree of prospect interaction and engagement to make sales or close deals. Their sales process may be long and complex or they may be selling a high-ticket item that requires a lot of consideration by the customer. Both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) businesses use sales funnels.
You can do this all by caring. Reach out and ask for reviews. Engage with them on social media. Offer them an insider-only discount. Give them something for free on their birthday. Give them advice for free. There are literally hundreds of customer retention tactics out there—find the ones that best suit your products and business. One simple—and cost-effective—way to care is with personalization.
The sales funnel simply depicts how leads traverse through your sales process from start to close. It’s only a visual representation of the numbers game in the form of a funnel; there’s more to it than meets the eye. If you analyze the number of leads who enter your funnel and the number who convert to customers, you’ll probably find that there’s a huge dip. Sometimes prospects drop out of the sides of your funnel when their needs don’t match your services. While it’s nearly impossible to retain every prospect who enters your funnel, it’s important for your sales team to make efforts to retain the ones who are ready to buy.
In this scenario, you’re asking people to take little steps, instead of going right from “mailing list sign up” to “spend $1000”. Downloading a free ebook isn’t a big step. Once you’ve done that, sure, why not share? Hey, if the info was valuable in the free book, the info in a $19 book is probably great! Oh, there’s a $197 program? Yes, I would love to join, because I already got more than that much value from your lower-cost items. Spend $1000? Sure!
So where do we go from here? The funnel and Customer Decision Journey aren’t going away. They are useful models, and will continue to be helpful in certain contexts. But marketing today requires a new mental map to navigate a changing landscape. We need a model that informs marketers how to enable and empower, not just persuade and promote. There are a variety of alternatives including journey, orbit, relationship, and experience.
In digital marketing, despite the fact that it undergoes various processes that involves the use of technology, you are still marketing to people, each having their own attributes and situations that affect their buying decisions. Lead generation funnel is a tool that puts this concept into great consideration, nurturing each unique lead according to their attributes, eventually leading these prospects and turning them into your ultimate goal – paying customers.
But, once you have enough experience to be eligible (and are likely itching for a promotion), they start marketing to you. It might be email marketing or an email list-based retargeting campaign, but these graduate programs do their level best to get back on your radar. It’s a long-term play, but it’s one that works incredibly well because the schools know exactly when their students are “ready to buy” again.
In brief, we are inclined to go along with someone’s suggestion if we think that person is a credible expert (authority), if we regard him or her as a trusted friend (liking), if we feel we owe them one (reciprocity), or if doing so will be consistent with our beliefs or prior commitments (consistency). We are also inclined to make choices that we think are popular (consensus [social proof]), and that will net us a scarce commodity (scarcity).
For instance, if you’re selling marketing automation software to a startup, showcase a startup that 10X-ed their leads. If you’re selling the enterprise version of that marketing software, share a case study from another enterprise company. The enterprise case study is too aspirational for the startup, and the startup case study doesn’t work in front of a huge global marketing team.
Launches: If you already have an audience, then you should definitely consider going big to introduce your product to the public—that’s what launching is about. A launch can help you gain the initial traction your business needs to grow, but there is more to launching than just pushing your product live. Great launch strategies involve slowly warming up the communication with your audience and then sending them the right content that convinces them to purchase.
The truth? People are smart. They're not simply going to buy anything from anyone unless they feel there's an immense amount of value to be had there. Thus, your funnel needs to built that value and bake it in through a variety of means. But most importantly, you have to create a strong bond with your prospect, and that happens by being relatable, honest and transparent in your email warming sequence.
There are various sales qualification techniques like CHAMP, MEDDIC, GPCT, BANT, and more but it’s best to choose a framework that best suits your customer journey. The most common sales qualification framework used by most businesses is BANT—Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline. Only leads that meet the qualification criteria become potential opportunities and trickle down the funnel. Pushing leads without proper qualification into the sales funnel will clog your sales pipeline, and won’t necessarily lead to revenue.
A lead is someone who becomes aware of your company or someone who you decide to pursue for a sale, even if they don’t know about your company yet.. Typically, this includes everyone in one big group, but you could also break this down further to only look at qualified leads, which are leads that meet certain qualifications to becoming customers. For example, if you’re selling pet products, a qualified lead is someone who has a pet, versus someone who simply likes the cute animal pictures on your blog, but will never buy anything from you.
The sales funnel metaphor is somewhat misleading; in real life, the process never goes as smoothly as liquid down a funnel. In the last decade, digital marketing, artificial intelligence (AI), and CRM have drastically changed the process of converting new leads into customers. Given this, it’s increasingly important that business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing teams are aligned in their views on a sales funnel strategy and lead generation as a whole.
As you may already know, we offer a Done-For-You Sales Funnel Service for clients who want AutoGrow to custom-craft a funnel that will automate their sales or client lead generation, get them better quality prospects, and let them own a sales pipeline packed full of clients. You know that when it comes to creating funnels and implementing sales funnel strategies, we are the ones!
If you don’t know much about SEO, there’s a great course about SEO available here, but basically, this is the practice of making sure your blog posts or other website pages show up in search results when someone types in a certain phrase. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to find keywords in your industry that have a high volume of searches and a low level of competition, though keep in mind that “competition” in Keyword Planner only tracks competition for paid ads, so it might not be the best indication at competition for general search engine results. Moz is a great tool to check out if you’re interested in doing more keyword research on competition.
After an account executive identifies a prospect as a qualified sales lead, he or she can then identify the prospect further as a sales opportunity and will undergo further opportunity marketing. At this point, it would be important to understand that engaging with leads will incur cost, which include cost of engagement, conversion and opportunity marketing.
In this stage, your lead has made an educated decision to purchase your solution. In turn, your sales reps present proposals, terms of contract, and other agreements to successfully win their business. The outcome of the opportunity may sway either way— win or loss—depending on the prospect’s interests at this stage. Although sales reps set the table for success—handling sales objections and negotiations—when it comes to closing the deal, win rates are quite unpredictable.
For example, let’s say your business has a blog and social media accounts it uses to get on a potential customer’s radar. From there, you encourage people to download an eBook in exchange for their email and drop them into an email drip that promotes an upcoming webinar. At the webinar, you sell people on your product or service, which convinces them to submit a lead form, work with your sales team and ultimately make a purchase.
Of course, if you're going the paid ad route, you could also use Facebook and Google re-targeting to keep that awareness and interest level high. For example, if you've ever noticed after leaving a particular website, that you begin to see their ad everywhere, there's a particular reason for that. Especially if they've already entered your sales funnel, this is a very powerful way to get them to act.
Much of this is steeped in buyer psychology. The best marketers in the world know that there is a psychological process that must occur for prospects to whip out those credit cards and turn into buyers or even hyper-active buyers. One such person whose perfected this process is Russell Brunson, an "underground entrepreneur" who founded a company called ClickFunnels, a sales funnel SaaS business that empowers marketers from around the world to build marketing automation without all the hassle.
You can also segment in other ways. For example, maybe you segment into order size: people who order more than $50, people who order $30 – $50, and people who order less than $50. If you offer a coupon for 10% off an order of $50 or more, the people who order that much anyway just get some free money, and the people who typically order less than $30 probably won’t take advantage. But the people who order between $30 and $50…for them, this is a goldilocks coupon (i.e. it is just right). It encourages them to spend just a little bit more on their next order.
Following their information search — or sometimes running concurrently with this process — potential customers start comparing the alternatives that your article has discussed. Again, the time spent in this stage will vary based on the type of purchase being contemplated. Choosing a restaurant might be as simple as deciding, “Well, I feel like Chinese food, not Mexican, tonight.”