Think you know everything about sales funnels? You might find there’s more to them than you realised.
Chances are your business has numerous channels – a website, social media, email newsletters – all working hard to reach the right customers at the right time.
But to really grow, businesses need to connect with customers strategically and systematically at every touchpoint – not just throw out hooks in every direction and hope for the best.
Enter the defined sales funnel
‘Defined’ is the operative word here. All businesses have a sales funnel – but not all businesses recognise the paths their customers take.
For example, a small or medium business might be successfully selling its products, but how it is selling them is sometimes a mystery. How does a customer hear about them? When and why does a lead convert to a sale? Without this knowledge, responding effectively to customer inquiries, connecting with new prospects and closing a sale is basically guesswork. The business could be losing as many leads as it is wins. And without being able to identify lost leads and the reasons for them, there is no opportunity to plan for scale or growth.
Defining the sales funnel is crucial to making your sales funnel a powerful tool for your business and, fortunately, all it requires is for you to pay closer attention to what customers are doing and build your processes around that.
Get to know the sales funnel and your customers’ journey through it
You guessed it; a sales funnel looks exactly like a funnel. The widest end is the ‘awareness’ stage, when customers first hear about your brand thanks to your online ads, social media campaigns, and so on. There’s plenty of interest but no one’s getting out their wallet just yet.
If your marketing story is compelling, some of those customers will move to the ‘interest’ stage. At this point, they’re taking a closer look at what you have on offer. Hopefully, this will lead them to the decision’ phase, where they decide to make a purchase, followed by the ‘action’ phase of responding to a sales rep or clicking ‘add to cart’.
As you consider these four stages, ask yourself:
- What are we doing to attract prospective customers to the funnel? How can we identify them early on?
- How do these stages map to the things we do as a company (for example, how we organise our website and product information)? How are we encouraging customers to move to the next stage?
- Is there anything impeding good experiences at any stage? What can we do to improve?
Answering these questions will not only help you define your sales funnel but begin to actively shape it in a way that leads to more wins.
Don’t forget your data – and prepare to gather more
A generic sales funnel treats all customers the same. But a defined sales funnel treats all customers differently. With a defined sales funnel you can better recognise long-term prospects from the start and personalise their customer journeys.
For this level of definition, you need to analyse the customer data you already have. What patterns exist in your website activity? What are customers’ most frequently asked questions? At what point do they commonly opt-out of the journey? Which previous marketing campaigns or website tweaks have led to significant shifts in customer behaviour?
Then you need to consider opportunities to gather more information and feedback. Fine tune all your touchpoints – from your call centres to your landing page, from your social channels to your customer surveys. Fortunately, this is often data customers are happy and willing to share because it reduces the time and effort they need to spend finding the companies, products and services they want.
Evaluate, learn and evaluate some more
By defining your sales funnel, you’ll bring clarity and consistency to the process of acquiring customers, and maximise your sales. But there are other useful ways to evaluate business success via the funnel.
- Track your marketing ROI. With your defined funnel running smoothly, you’ll be spending more of your budget connecting with the right prospects at the right time.
- Listen to your customers. Satisfied customers love to talk about the companies they love. If your defined sales funnel is providing fantastic CX, then you’ll be turning customers into brand advocates. Give them the platforms needed to sing your praises.
- Say goodbye to pulling all-nighters. A defined sales funnel gives you the data you need to make your next move quickly and confidently.
The best sales funnel you can have is a defined one. It will give you the insights you need to grow your business. So stop guessing and start defining.
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