As an introduction to this two part post about how to create and manage your sales funnel. We’ll start off discussing how to create a sales funnel to help get your company’s sales pipeline in gear. While the traditional sales funnel template serves as a good framework, the middle steps of the funnel will likely need to be altered to fit the unique strategy of your company.
If you’re reading this and aren’t sure what is a sales funnel, that’s okay. A sales funnel is a diagram, shaped like a funnel that shows the transition of potential customers into long-time, loyal, returning customers. A sales funnel can also illustrate a customer’s buying journey through your company’s sale process. At the top part of the funnel (where it’s widest), those are where your prospective customers are, or where a customer first interacts with your company or brand. The end of the funnel (the narrowest part) is where your loyal, returning customers are at, or where the customer ultimately converts on a sale.
A sales funnel helps you and your sales and marketing teams visualize your sales process.
How to Create a Sales Funnel
Every company can benefit from a sales funnel, though it will look different based on the type of company and industry. A sales funnel is what circulated customers to your business. And your business needs a constant stream of customers to make money. Since your company can’t last long without a sales funnel, here are steps to create and develop a sales funnel:
Find Your Prospects
You have a product or service to offer and you want people to buy it. Unfortunately, not everyone will be interested in what you have to offer. If you immediately start email blasting and fire off Facebook ads to anyone and everyone, you’ll be disappointed with your results. You have to learn who your target audience is in order to find the highest, qualified prospects.
How does one go about doing this? Well, first define your ideal customer. Who is he or she like? What struggles or challenges are they facing that your product can help solve? What are their interests, hobbies, demographics? Making a sketch, creating a persona and questionnaire are ways to help you identify not just any customer, but an ideal customer who would most likely be interested in your product or service and will most likely lead to a sale and be a returning customer. Side note: chances are your company will likely have more than one type of ideal customer or prospect. Be sure to identify them all.
Turn Prospects Into Quality Prospects
While you may think that now that you’re targeting ideal prospective customers that you’re all good. But not too fast. There are some customers who fit your ideal customer criteria who won’t be interested in your product or service. These customers, who you thought were ideal customers are actually not ideal customers.
In order to weed through these targeted audiences and “semi-ideal” customers to find the best qualified leads, or prospects, one must have a qualifying process to find the true ideal customers who will ultimately purchase your products or services.
The prospect qualifying process isn’t that difficult. Starting conversations with prospective customers to learn about their needs and wants, conducting polls and surveys and even promoting a product or service that appeals to your ideal customer are ways to help you narrow down to your real ideal customers.
Step 3: Keep Prospects Moving Through the Funnel
Once you find out who your real ideal customers are, your work isn’t done. You now need to take them through the sales funnel process so they will convert and make a purchase. A key element to this middle part of the funnel is trust. In order for the prospect to take the next step, the more they must trust your brand. There are multiple ways to build trust just like there are various strategies and tactics companies use for prospects in various stages of the middle of the funnel.
The first step in building trust and start the buying process is to establish a conversation. In today’s world, this will likely happen online. Write and share a well-written blog post the prospects will finding interesting and useful. Converse with customers online via social media or through comment threads on your blog.
Once people are aware of your company and maybe have checked out your website, present them with an offer so you can get their email address. These offers can be a free download, a free e-book or a low-cost, introductory product offered on a well-built, easy to navigate landing page that encourages them to sign up for a newsletter or rewards program. Once you have their email, you can follow-up and send them promotional emails. When it comes to emailing, make sure the emails are periodic, frequent enough that customers remember your brand, but not so often that you appear spammy and annoying.
Offering “pre-offers” or trials of your products or services is a great way to get emails as well as give the potential customer the opportunity to try your product or service, whereby helping them decide whether your brand is trustworthy enough for them to give your company their business.
For most companies, the middle of the funnel is comprised of multiple stages. Segmenting your prospects into appropriate sales funnel stages will help you better reach out to them and keep them moving forward through the sales funnel.
Step 4: Keep the Flow Going
Successful companies have a consistent sales pipeline whereby new, qualified leads, or prospects are entered into the sales funnel at the same time as other qualifies customers are in the middle and end of the sales funnel. Leads, prospects or customers need to be constantly moving forward, onto the next stage of the sales funnel. It is important to manage your sales funnel as an unnecessary or complicated step in the process can clog up the sales pipeline funnel.
No matter what stage of the sales funnel a customer is in, it is important to establish and buildup trust. It isn’t just enough for people to be aware of your brand. They need to have a reason to choose to do business with your company over a competitor. That means you need your brand to be a professional expert in the industry while also be empathetic to customer’s wants and needs and personable.
As trust is built and prospects are moved through the sales funnel, multiple tactics and strategies can be implemented based on where in the funnel a customer is at. Some popular strategies include: email opt-in campaigns, free information pieces, social media interaction, blog post interaction, targeted ads, free or low-cost product offering or service trial, and landing pages.
All pipeline sales funnels will have qualified leads that won’t convert. There are many reasons why prospects and leads “leak” from various sales pipeline stages. The goal is to have enough leads regularly be filtering through the marketing funnel to make the drop-off negligible. At Aktify, we help businesses recapture and bring “back to life” leads that have left the funnel and are assumed to be “dead.” Companies oftentimes can’t afford to invest time and resources in “dead” leads hoping to bring them back. That’s where we come in. While your sales team focuses on bringing in new leads and nurturing leads through the funnel, Aktify can help give you more leads through leads that were thought to be “dead.” If you want help getting more leads in your sales pipeline and through your marketing funnel, contact us today to learn how he can help.