Every business uses a sales funnel.
A sales funnel is the predetermined journey people are taken through before becoming your customer. It can also be referred to as a sales tunnel or sales pipeline.
A sales funnel aims to create effective, measurable and scalable strategies through each major stage in the buying cycle. This enables businesses to create a focused series of events that all point towards the primary objective of sales conversion.
It also allows businesses to ‘sell right’ – a modern twist on traditional sales and marketing practices – by building positive brand awareness and reputation, before qualifying leads.
Prior to social media marketing and the current wave of marketing advancements, lead generation and sales practices heavily involved advertising and interruption marketing.
Now, the rising popularity of inbound and content marketing disciplines are what work. Being found when needed with useful solutions immediately positions companies at the forefront of preference.
This very different kettle of fish from traditional methods and has almost taken the marketing world by storm, for all the right reasons too.
Primarily – it just works…
But also due to a whole host of attractive benefits, including: positioning, branding, scope, speed, service, scale, reach and experience.
The Importance Of Your Sales Funnel
If you are a successful business owner and haven’t heard of the term “sales funnel”, then chances are you do indeed have one in place, but perhaps by accident.
Common sense and an understanding of your business and customers probably allowed you to craft a imaginary sales funnel that you instinctively lead prospects down towards becoming customers.
Learning about how to create a robust, high-performing sales funnel will pay dividends for any business. Think about it this way – if you’re not clear on how you currently convert traffic to leads to sales, then you can be sure that there are holes to fill that leads regularly drop through.
If you have an existing sales funnel, then you should always be looking to refine and improve upon it’s capabilities.
I consider a sales funnel as a separate set of marketing metrics – some of the most important metrics in fact – that indicate the bottom line performance of lead generation strategies.
And by improving the processes to which your business makes money, it is almost impossible not to see a more profitable bottom line.
Is A Winning Sales Funnel So Important That My Business Would Fail Without One?
The short answer – more than likely.
Without any form of sales funnel, a business would rely on people navigating straight to their website and making a one-off impulse purchase.
What typically happens with a poor sales funnel is that some leads are generated and some trickle through to become one-time customers.
The longer answer to this question is – it depends, on many things…
Initially, your business offering is what hinges on your success. If you’re lucky enough to invent (and patent) something that everyone needs and there is no competition, then the money will likely roll in, in one way or another.
The better way of thinking about it is that without a winning sales funnel, you will be leaving money on the table, in some shape or form.
If the volume of leads is satisfactory, the cost of lead generation (marketing budget) is viable and the sales conversion process works to the extent in which customers are realised and a reasonable profit is turned, then your business will likely be happy.
But what would you say if you can improve this process by 10%? By 50%? What about by 500%? Creating a winning sales funnel can do just this.
When a very effective sales funnel is created and combined with very effective marketing campaigns, your customers win. Your business wins. Your wallet wins.
Before discussing the components of a winning sales funnel, here is an infographic by 9clouds that provides an overview of what a typical sales funnel looks like.
Sales Funnel Infographic
Sales Funnel Components
It’s important to remember that your sales funnel should be tailored to your own business and it’s capabilities. It’s not wise to think a sales funnel comes in ‘one size fits all‘.
The following sales funnel components are examples of those typically found in businesses who operate mainly online.
Attracting targeted attention to those who are interested in your business services or products. Many practices are present here, including all marketing disciplines, PR and branding.
Lead generation materials such as lead magnets (high-value free gifts or offerings) and landing pages should be used to capture attention efficiently, while customer service alleviates buyer concerns and develops relationships. The design of all points of contact should be taken into account and focused on this first stage of converting attention into leads.
It’s normal that people don’t buy after the first point of contact – credibility needs to be built first. Email automation should be used to build authority and provide additional value to leads, while social media management can develop relationships and nurture prospects in public spaces.
Only when leads are qualified enough to react accordingly to your business offering should it be presented directly to them. The point of transaction and purchasing phase should always transmit security and comfort.
Never stop once a customer makes a purchase – creating repeat business opportunities costs 6-7 times less than acquiring a new customer.
Use compelling customer service to ensure your business offering is experienced positively by the customer, while undertaking any up-selling or cross-selling opportunities that should arise. Customers who bought a product or service once and who found it valuable are most likely to buy again from you. Create customer loyalty.
Also use this time to gather testimonials to use in further marketing efforts and offer any incentives for customer referrals and word-of-mouth marketing – some of the best types of marketing that exists.
Over To You
Hopefully, this has got you thinking about how you can create your own sales funnel and design each stage to maximise your conversion metrics.
You might find it inspiring to learn from existing sales funnels and profitable to add your own twist to them in order to suit your business needs.
Is there anything that you would benefit with more explanation on?