As a recap from part one of this post, we answered the question of what is a sales funnel by defining a sales funnel as a visual representation of the buyer’s journey from prospect to buying customer. Creating a marketing funnel first begins with finding ideal customers and turning them into qualified leads that will most likely complete the sales cycle and make a purchase. While the stages of the sales funnel template is a useful starting point, the stages in the middle part of the funnel are slightly different based on the company type and the industry a company is in.
At the end of the last post, we briefly touched upon the maintenance of one’s sales funnel and how important it is in developing the sales funnel in order to keep prospects and leads progressing forward through the marketing funnel. Now that you’ve created your pipeline sales funnel, we’ll now dive into some tips on how to maintain it.
Eliminate Unnecessary Hinderances in the Funnel
The goal of a sales funnel is to move qualified leads forward through the funnel so they end up converting and making purchases. Sales prospects and customers should not stall at any of the funnel’s sales pipelines stages if the marketing funnel is set up properly. That’s not to say that sometimes a prospect may briefly revert back to the previous point into the marketing funnel stages.
Ideally, you want a qualified lead to move quickly through the sales marketing funnel, unobstructed. Customers and prospects who take some time to complete the funnel can take up much needed time, effort and resources that could have been better used somewhere else. The same can be said of prospects that leave the sales funnel.
When your sales or marketing teams notice a big drop-off at a certain sales funnel stage or notice there is a bottleneck somewhere in the sales funnel you know there are some unnecessary hinderances. Having unnecessary steps, hinderances or obstacles in the sales funnel can halt a prospect’s progress or even cause the prospect to leave the sales funnel entirely, causing your business to possibly lose a highly qualified sales lead and a sale.
Maintaining your sales funnel involves looking at problem areas, such as unnecessary hinderances and resolving them so the stream of prospects and leads can continuously, smoothly and quickly flow all the way through the funnel. A common sales pipeline hinderances include forcing prospective customers to sign up for memberships or rewards programs to access free giveaways or useful website content and valuable resources. Even if membership is free and only requires a name and email address, the concept of membership, especially for prospects in the early stages of the sales funnel, will cause the prospects to be skittish and quick to either move backward or sideways in the funnel, no longer moving forward. Another example of a hinderance includes taking a prospect through many steps to access free content, eBook, product or free trial. If it is a free trial, qualified leads who are interested in your product or service may be quickly turned off when forced to fill in credit card information.
To make it a smoother progression through the sales funnel, review what kind of information you’re seeking from prospects at each of the sales funnel stages and see what the best way is to get that information. It helps to put yourself in the customer’s or prospect’s shoes. What elements are frustrating, confusing or time-consuming. Look to see if these elements are necessary. If they aren’t, remove them to create a simpler, easier path for your prospects.
Treat Prospects at Each Stage to Different Content
A prospective lead who has not heard of your company or product at the beginning of the sales funnel should receive different information and content than a qualified lead who has interacted with your brand and is on the verge of making a purchase. If your company gives both these prospects the same material, information and content, you risk leads stalling in or exiting the funnel. There are many tactics and strategies companies use to communicate with different segments of lead prospects within their sales pipeline funnel that best communicates with where the lead is in the buying process. Blogs, social media, website chat and email are common communication tools. Offers, contests, email list, newsletter and subscription sign-ups and opt-ins are also popular tactics. Research the leads in each sales funnel stage and learn what their specific needs and wants are and what information they need to move on to the next stage.
Make Sure Sales and Marketing Work Together
In many large organizations, it can be easy to separate the sales and marketing teams into different silos who work independently of each other. When this happens, miscommunication and mishandling of leads occur. Successful companies have marketers who thoroughly vet leads before handing the qualified leads to sales. The marketing and sales teams should regularly meet together to get on the same page, and have the same goals and expectations. While the roles of marketers and salespeople are different, they are both needed to get qualified leads through the company’s sales funnel. An untrained or overly anxious marketing team that prematurely passes prospective leads to sales will not only frustrate the sales team, but will cause the company to lose potential sales from qualified leads. It must be noted that marketers should not pass along every lead to sales. Remember, you want qualified leads in your sales funnel. Unqualified leads will less likely progress through the funnel. These type of leads will cause your sales funnel to crumble, making it difficult for you to maintain it and diagnose additional issues it may have.
Use a CRM to Help in Funnel Management
Statistics, analytics and data about the prospects in your sales pipeline funnel will help you manage your funnel by giving you pertinent insight about the effectiveness and trouble areas of your funnel. A CRM can also automate tasks such as the sending out of email blasts to various segments of your prospects at each stage of the sales funnel. CRMs can give you quick access to customer information which can help you better tailor your messaging and content to get the prospect to more quickly move onto the next funnel stage.
Knowing vital data through a CRM can help you diagnose hinderances in the funnel, give unique insight into each prospect in the funnel and the overall effectiveness and efficiency of your sales funnel.
Sales funnel management involves diagnosing and fixing problems within the funnel that keep leads from progressing forward through the funnel or which cause customers to exit the funnel. Unnecessary hinderances in the stages of the sales funnel and giving all prospects throughout the various sales pipeline stages the same content are common mistakes that need to be identified and fixed as they can cause leads to either bottleneck in the sales funnel or exit the sales funnel. Even a well-maintained sales funnel won’t be effective if unqualified leads enter the sales funnel. This is what happens when marketers don’t qualify leads before handing them off to sales. A CRM can help automate some of the funnel maintenance processes as well as give you useful insight into how to move prospects through the sales funnel quicker.
At Aktify, we know that sales funnel management is a long-term, continual process. We can help your company secure more qualified leads that will lead to sales by reviving your “dead” leads, or leads that have gotten out of your sales funnel. To learn more about our services and how we can help you, contact us today.