The Epic Journey Through the Sales Funnel
The sales funnels of yesteryears reflected the old ‘numbers game’ mindset of acquiring and converting leads — gain a gazillion leads and expose them to advertisement content and high-quality copy that prods them to become prospects and convert. Then REPEAT.
But the shift in modern consumer behaviour meant that old keys (the conventional method of pitching your products to customers and calling it a day) could not open new locks (long-term, sustainable growth in the modern age).
Today, the customer experience begins long before purchase. With access to credible information, customers are more likely to form an impression about your brand way before they come to you with their wallet. This has led marketers to favour a more customer-led approach to the buyer’s journey.
The modern customer is more likely to embark on an investigative journey about your brand by themselves to help them make the best decision possible. The goal of this investigation is to know if your product is what they need at that point in time.
So, over to you to wow them with your strategy. An effective sales funnel that gives them an integrated and unified experience that makes them loyal customers and brand ambassadors. They go on to scale up your business’ marketing efforts—bringing in even more customers to the funnel.
What is a sales funnel, and how does it work?
The ‘sales funnel’ involves the entire process of interactions between businesses and their buyers from the point of initial discovery up until the final purchase.
It represents the customer journey, starting from the top of the funnel when they go, “Uhmmm, Okay. What is XYZ brand, and how can they help me solve my problem?” till “Yessss. I’m ready to open my wallet and become a customer”, then “Okay, I think I’ve had such a good time with XYZ brand, so I’m willing to take this up a notch and tell my friends about how awesome they are.”
For companies, especially small and medium-sized businesses, a deep understanding of the sales funnel is vital to ensure maximal conversion of sales revenues. In this post, we discuss each stage of the sales funnel, highlighting how businesses can use them to generate sales while driving and accelerating systematic growth.
While a business may witness many potential customers at its start, only an ever-narrowing class continues through the rest of the process. Kind of like how that paper funnel works — the one at the gas station you use when trying to pour oil neatly into your oil reservoir rather than causing a spillage all over the engine.
As a small or medium-scale business owner, you have a 360-degree view of the bigger picture. So, it’s your job to develop and manage the overall business strategy, from product development to sales and marketing.
As technology continues to spin off increasingly sophisticated advertisement methods, opening businesses to audiences of unprecedented sizes, the sales funnel is one tool with which business managers can fine-tune and reposition their internal processes, converting as much of that attention into sales revenue as possible.
How so? At the various stages of their interaction with a business, potential customers have varying mindsets, pain points, interest levels, and conversion probabilities. The sales funnel framework groups these prospects based on their mindsets, enabling businesses to communicate with them more accurately, increasing the likelihood of conversions.
What Are the Stages of a Sales Funnel?
The sales funnel is comprised of four basic levels - awareness/discovery, interest, decision, and action. However, we consider a fifth level just as crucial, if not more than the initial four — loyalty.
As the name implies, this phase is where your prospects identify a need for your product/service offerings and join your audience, becoming aware of your business's products or services.
It’s the open end of the sales funnel, where blogging, social media posts, how-to videos, and webinars are handy in helping you create some buzz with the right amount of education for your teeming audience. So, if you’re a nutritionist, your clients are probably wondering by now, “Why is my diet bad? How can I curate better diet choices?”
The prospects may go on to make instant purchases or, as is more likely, begin to move along the funnel, only making a purchase after an average of 7 more interactions with your brand.
This is where the almighty role of content comes in, as you can educate these untouched prospects about dietary choices, alerting them to the possibility that you might just be the diet hero to provide them with real solutions. At this level, all that’s necessary is for you to optimise your marketing channels to cast nets wide enough to keep leads trooping into the funnel.
Interest follows awareness. In the interest phase, prospects evaluate whether your brand’s solutions are the right fit for their problems.
While it's great that they are not aware of your brand, it's not nearly enough to get conversions. It’s now up to you and your marketing team to tip them over into the next sales funnel stage where you nurture leads.
And there is an abundance of lead nurturing tools. From targeted content to multi-channel marketing, follow up, and emails. However, it all revolves around one theme — personalisation. Using customer information generated in the awareness stage, businesses can craft specific, hyper-targeted marketing messages to communicate with prospects with relevant content in a tone that screams, “I know how you feel, and I want to help!”
Using CRM, this process can be automated for seamless application. Like a digital Rolodex, the software stores and tracks information on each prospect, enabling you to correctly calibrate interaction points with them; and even easing the workload on your marketing team. So, they can focus on the more important, more cognitive aspects.
At this stage, the customer has decided that they need your product. So, conversion is in sight. At this stage, they typically begin to focus on pricing and perks associated with your products or service—an attempt to compare your brand with whatever other options they have.
The ideal content for this stage will be case studies, product comparisons that also dig into the pros & cons. and other lead magnets. The key here is to highlight your competitive edge over all other options.
While you may offer low prices, discounts, or rebates, your competitive edge doesn't always have to involve money. Sometimes, it might be impossible to sell at the lowest prices in the market. In such cases, the quality of your products/service or your customer relations can also count for points in your favour.
The action stage is the “hoorah” moment where all the marketing and nurturing action gets converted into tangible results, and the prospects are finally converted into paying customers. This is the thinnest sector because, usually, fewer people who entered at the top of the funnel make it thus far.
However, with the right nurturing, businesses can keep conversions high enough to achieve projected revenues and be profitable. If you’re looking to make a killing of the bottom of the sales funnel, perks like free trials and consultation offers will come in handy in positively influencing the buyer’s purchasing decision at this stage of the journey.
Loyalty is the all-important stage that’s often surprisingly left out of sales funnel discussions. While it's great to convert first time customers, loyal customers have more impact on the bottom line of most small and medium scale businesses.
So, businesses cannot afford to just herd prospects until they purchase, only to ditch them afterwards. Follow-up and nurturing are still required to ensure that they continue to stick with your brand (customer loyalty) and become brand ambassadors that exponentially multiply your marketing efforts.
webCRM for your Efficient sales funnel.
The sales funnel is a journey. A lead finds out about your brand, gets to know more about your product/service offerings and decides whether or not to make a purchase.
The ultimate roadmap to making that purchasing decision is your job to clearly design as a business owner — including what moves them from one stage of the funnel to another and how long they spend on each stage.
With CRM software, businesses can centralise customer information, categorise prospects with sheer accuracy, and automate a good chunk of customer interaction and lead nurturing processes with accuracy.
webCRM offers one of the top CRM solutions in Europe (even if we say so ourselves). You can have an overview of some of the innovative functions that await you in the CRM here.
With webCRM, you can identify any cracks or loopholes in your sales funnel—in real-time. Unpack all the relevant data and gain access to analytics needed to track performance against realistic goals you set for your conversion process, so you never lose sight of your goal!
Why don’t you request your demo version now, to see for yourself?