The original concept for a B2B sales funnel was thought up all the way back in 1898. That’s the same year the Spanish-American war started, Lenin was elected and Pepsi-Cola was invented. A tumultuous time! We’ll keep the Pepsi, leave the rest, and focus on the main star of the show: the sales funnel.
Over 68% of companies have not identified or attempted to measure a sales funnel, and the same survey showed that an astounding 79% of marketing leads are never converted into sales. It doesn’t take a marketing genius to know there’s a connection between those statistics. Whilst things have definitely changed in the 120 years since 1898, one thing’s remained the same: the sales funnel is one of the most effective tools you have to convert leads.
We don’t want you to be one of that 68%. So, we’re going to talk you through the basics of the sales funnel. Starting with the key stages that every sales funnel should have.
Stage 1: Awareness
This is the very first stage of the funnel. That means that your customers are just becoming aware of your brand and need more information. It’s important that they find resources to further push them down the funnel. That could be blog posts, explainer videos, opinion pieces, data reports or statistics relevant to their query. Whatever it is they’re looking for, they need to find it on your page.
At this stage, you’re likely to see a lot of leads drop off. They’re generally not very high-quality at this point because of how vague the situation is. They’re in the research phase of their buyer journey so they may shop around more before committing to enquiring. However, if you provide enough high-quality content, uber-relevant copy and a lot of CTAs, you’ll start seeing more leads funnelled to the next stage.
Not sure how to create that super relevant, really engaging content? We’d suggest creating a buyer persona of your perfect customer. You can take all the knowledge you have on that buyer and tailor your content to meet their every need. Consider how they think, what problems they’re trying to solve and the route they’d take to find their solution.
Stage 2: Interest
The Interest stage of the sales funnel marks the beginning of a relationship being formed between customer and company. There are a range of ways that a lead could show interest in a business. They could fill out an enquiry or an online form. Sign up to your mailing list. Click a CTA button that takes them to a landing page. There’s a variety of ways for a lead to show interest. What’s important is that there’s a sense of trust being built. That all comes from your value proposition and your source of credibility. They’ll be key in raising the lead’s opinion of your company and ensuring they get through to the next stage of the funnel.
Stage 3: Evaluation
The Evaluation stage is where you get to relax a little. You’re definitely got the lead’s attention. They’re aware of your brand and like what you’re selling. At this stage, it’s important that you focus your efforts on further building trust and showing the lead that your solution is right for them.
Remember not to push too hard at this stage. If your solution isn’t right for this specific lead, sometimes its best to let them go. People don’t like to be hustled. They don’t want to be duped. By holding your hands up and saying, ‘I don’t think this is the right solution for your problem,’ you can earn a lot of respect and everyone gets to save time. A show of honesty might pay off in the long run when the lead genuinely does need your services.
Stage 4: Engagement
When you’re at the Engagement stage, it’s time to sell, sell, sell! You know that your solution is right for the lead. You established that at the Evaluation stage. Now, it’s time to get your sales force involved.
You might start showing the lead some product demonstrations or a sales presentation/pitch. However you sell, it’s important to keep all communication clear to show you fully understand the customer’s needs. The trust that you’ve been building over the previous stages will be vital in pushing a lead to the final stage of the funnel.
Stage 5: Purchase
The stage we’ve all been waiting for: Purchase. This stage is fulfilled when you’ve crossed the finish line with a lead and they’ve successfully purchased your product or service. You’re not done yet, though. What happens post-purchase is just as important as pre-purchase.
Keeping customers happy even after they’ve handed over their cash is essential. Over 84% of B2B sales start with a referral and those leads covert 30% more effectively than any other. Ensure your customer journey doesn’t just end once the lead has your solution to create more opportunities for your brand.
If you’re still hungry for more advice on lead generation and an improved sales process, take a look at our marketing for professional services page. Or, if you’re after a more bespoke solution, contact us today for a free consultation.