When you launched your product, your only concern was getting people to visit your site—right?
Sure, you know that traffic is where conversions come from. But here you are. You’re getting a lot of traffic that just doesn’t convert.
If you’ve worked hard with your team to build an excellent product, a sleek online platform, and a seemingly bulletproof marketing strategy, it’s just right to expect great sales.
You need sales funnels.
What is a sales funnel?
According to Salesforce, a sales funnel is a way to visualize the progress of leads as they make their way towards becoming customers.
Ideally, you have a sales funnel dedicated to each of your buyer personas. Sales funnels should compliment the buyers’ journeys you’ve designed for each of your buyer personas—making sure there are no clogs.
The buyers’ journeys along the sales funnel should be free of snags.
How to build a sales funnel
There are a million ways to build your own sales funnel, but generally there are three stages to it:
Awareness stage, Consideration stage and Decision stage.
Using these three as your general stages, you can include substages that will encompass all the steps you want to use in leading visitors through the funnel—from prospects to buyers.
In the Awareness stage, you’re getting the word out there that there is a solution for the particular problem your product addresses.
Have an easy to use, trustworthy site that’s filled with content that is relevant to your industry, addresses the needs of your prospects and that reflects your values as a business.
According to Google Semantic Search author David Amerland, there are four quick tips you can apply now to make your site trustworthy
1. Tell your prospects who you are
2. Show them how you’re different
3. Show your awards and testimonials
4. Reveal your Terms and Conditions
Other ways of spreading awareness about your brand and product during the awareness stage:
Give free useful information to your prospects
Get media coverage for your product
Establish your company’s leader as a thought leader in your particular field
Amplify your content in various channels
Ensure your content is indexable and search engine optimized
Publish content on other relevant platforms
Post various content forms catering to those who want quick and easily digestible content to those who want longer, in-depth content
- White Papers
- Lists and forms
Never be pushy or sales oriented from the get-go. At this stage, you’re introducing many new concepts and approaches to your prospect. You want them to feel comfortable and nurtured.
Don’t overwhelm the prospect. It’s easy to get excited about all your useful content. You feel like your prospects will definitely buy from you once they see how useful your content and your product is. Remember, it’s about uncovering their needs and addressing them. It’s not about letting them know how awesome your product is.
A study by Google and Millward Brown Digital named B2B Path to Purchase Study (2014) revealed that a B2B buyer makes an average of 12 search engine queries before engaging with a product website. The importance of having an optimized, smart and indexable site cannot be stressed enough.
During the Awareness stage, you help your prospect identify a pain point, thus creating a need for your product. Aside from your content, the need could also be triggered by various events like a shift in the buyer’s financial situation, need, or an active ad campaign (yours or not).
At this point, your website and product are part of your prospect’s research—at the tail end of this stage, they are already listing down options.
When a prospect reaches the Consideration stage, they have done a considerable amount of initial research.
They have a need, and they know you have a product that will address that need.
At the stage, your prospect will be doing at least one of the things on this list:
Reading reviews and testimonials
Learning more about your product’s features and how they work
Comparing your product with others
Asking opinions from peers
Searching the internet for details about their concerns
In many cases, the consideration stage is where sales reps will have the opportunity to be in direct contact with a prospect. Prospects will contact your company for one or more of these concerns:
Questions about product fit
Comparison with a competitor
At this point in the consideration stage, competent sales reps will spell the difference between a lost lead and a prospect moving along the funnel. The more that sales reps understand the exact need of the prospect, the better they can present the solutions your products provide. This is an immense edge to have against your competitors.
Remember, the number of inbound phone calls you get is a poor metric in measuring the effectivity of your sales funnel. Keep them inside your sales funnel and make sure your presence is felt throughout their research in the consideration stage.
Feed this stage of your sales funnel with content directed at the decision makers. You’re moving closer to the sale—meaning, you’d have to drop sales-oriented phrases that are only good for initial contact. Phrases like “top of the line”, “cutting-edge”, and similar will not cut it.
In your content, use language that speaks to C-level prospects.
Use content forms like:
Case studies- Show how your product has worked for other businesses.
White Papers- Show your competence in the field and how well you know your subject matter.
Video presentations- Have your company’s top executives speak about your product and its benefits in video format. Talk about pricing, ROI, and other factors that will help justify the purchase of your product.
Decision stage: Making the sale
Now, this is not the time to relax.
Let’s talk about how you can help your prospect become a buyer as they make that final decision and close a deal with you.
This is by no means a sure deal—you still need to continue enhancing their experience from here and even beyond buying your product. Nurturing your leads and prospects never ends. At this stage, you want to turn them into evangelists!
Whether your buyer is the main decision maker or someone who has to get the approval of C-level execs, the buyer is ready to choose which vendor to go with. They will be spreading out all the main decision factors and will recount the whole process that led them to their current situation.
The buyer won’t necessarily visit all the blog posts or content they’ve read throughout the process, but they will revisit all the highlights and recall the feels they’ve associated with your company and your product.
Internal dialogue like, “I like Company A because they seem to know what they’re talking about,” will be part of the decision-making process.
More importantly, they will begin to imagine the product at work with their current business processes. From the set-up to the implementation, the costs and experiences in case of a glitch, scenario building will determine their decision in choosing the product that will best fit their needs and resources.
Content for this stage:
Brand-specific content that promotes your product and its features directly and openly
Strong, detailed case studies and testimonials
Free consultation hours
Closing the deal
Here we are! After weeks or months of shopping around, your buyer has finally selected you as their supplier and are ready to close the deal. Your sales funnel worked, and you’ve successfully complimented their journey as a buyer. Remember, though, the buyer needs to see your promises in action, they need to see the positive results from their investment.
Depending on how the final stages went, jobs can even be on the line as the decision maker has to prove to upper management that they have used company resources well. The company—the buyer and other employees—will continue to refer to your website and other resources you’ve provided to guide them through using the product.
It’s very important to maintain contact with the customers. Inside sales reps should be assigned to nurture buyers well after the sale.
Turn them into product evangelists
Buyer’s situation: That’s right—the buyer’s journey doesn’t end once they’ve made a purchase, and they shouldn’t fall off your radar either.
Evangelization is a phase that every company hopes their customers enter after making a purchase. If everything goes according to plan, and your buyers are happy with where they’ve ended up at the end of their journey, they can become a valuable marketing resource. Customer evangelists, who can speak positively about your product and the experience they’ve had with your company, are a powerful resource — and one that companies should work hard to cultivate.
How you can help: Let your brand evangelists become the driving force behind your word-of-mouth marketing. As one of the only forms of marketing that comes from the customer (not the company), word-of-mouth marketing can be especially persuasive.
Take a hint from these quotes from the Canva’s Chief Evangelist Guy Kawasaki:
When you enchant people, your goal is not to make money from them or to get them to do what you want, but to fill them with great delight.
Be gentle. People deserve a break. The stressed and unorganized person who doesn’t have the same priorities as you may be dealing with an autistic child, abusive spouse, fading parents, or cancer. Don’t judge people until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Give them a break instead.
While we’re living, we need to get over ourselves and accept others if we want to enchant people.
At this stage, proactively work on building a relationship with your customer, reach out to ask for feedback regularly, and make sure they feel like they are a driving force behind improving the product to better fit their needs. Even if this added effort initially seems time-consuming or unnecessary, don’t forget that happy, satisfied, and informed customers are one of the best marketing investments that companies can make.
Mastering sales funnels
Sales funnels ensure that your leads are guided through the process from the moment they become remotely interested until the moment they become your evangelists. Remember, your task as a salesperson is to advocate for your customers, not your products. The key to selling is being there for your customer at the right time with the right solution.