As the sales or marketing member of your organization, you need a steady flow of paying customers. You likely use some sort of conversion funnel to guide people along from prospects to customers who convert and purchase your company’s product of service.
If you’re new to the sales or marketing process, you may not know too much about conversion funnel marketing. That’s okay. Every sales person has started there.
Whether you’re a sales or marketing veteran looking for how to optimize or boost your sales conversion rate or you’re a newbie and want to know how to build a steady lead conversion stream of qualified leads, this conversion primer will describe the conversion funnel and its different stages as well as best sales conversion practices.
What is a Conversion Funnel?
A conversion funnel, also called a sales funnel or marketing funnel is a visual representation a lead prospect journeys through into becoming a marketing qualified lead that ultimately converts, or makes a purchase or completes the company’s desired action or goal. There are different versions of the conversion funnel that companies use that range from four levels to up to seven levels. The number of levels will depend largely on one’s business and sales model. Regardless of whether your conversion funnel has four or seven steps or stages, there are three main parts of the sales funnel: the top, middle and bottom. The funnel starts off wide at the top and is narrowest at the bottom. Both the sales and marketing teams need to work together to nurture leads down through the funnel to end in a sale.
Top of the Funnel
This is the widest part of the funnel as it is here that you have the largest pool of prospects and leads. Potential customers at this stage aren’t familiar with your brand, company, products or services. These individuals are the least likely to make a purchasing decision as they have no relationship with your company. It is up to the marketing team to get the word out about your brand and products and get people interested in checking the company and products out.
The marketing team then filters, or segments these prospective leads and passes the most promising marketing qualified leads onto the sales team to get nurtured through the middle and bottom stages of the conversion funnel. The qualified leads the marketing team hands off are the prospective leads that show interest in learning more to possibly make a purchase.
The Middle of the Funnel
At this stage, the prospective leads, called marketing qualified leads, have indicated interest in pursuing and deepening a business transaction relationship with the company or brand. They have become aware of the company and the company’s products and think it worthwhile to learn more. It is here that the sales team takes over to nurture the leads through free trials, demonstrations, email, presentations and follow-up phone calls. While these leads are interested in the company and its services, they may still have some reservations about the quality and price of the products and the reputation of the business. The sales team employs a combination of the various aforementioned tactics to persuade these leads to move ahead with a purchasing decision.
The Bottom of the Funnel
The few leads that make it to the bottom of the conversion funnel are those highly likely to convert and make a purchase.
Conversion Funnel Marketing Best Practices
The conversion, or sales funnel, is merely a simple visual to help your sales and marketing teams identify potential customers and target appropriate content, materials and sales tactics based on where on the buyer’s journey they’re at in the funnel. Just drawing a funnel and its flow won’t bring sales and conversions. A variety of sales funnel tactics and strategies must be utilized to move prospects forward through the funnel.
Like sales funnels, companies employ a variety of sales and marketing tactics that specifically target their ideal customers and prospects and get them through their unique sales cycle and funnel. With more and more advancements in technology, there are now more sales and marketing tools, strategies, plans and techniques than ever before. Regardless of the many variations, there are some conversion funnel marketing best practices that have been shown to improve lead conversion rate, or sales conversion rate.
The following are some best practices you should start utilizing include:
Google Adwords and Search Marketing. A company won’t be found unless it has an online presence. Using Google’s sale and marketing tools like Adwords, Analytics and Keyword Tool can help you identify, target and reach out to your ideal audiences and lead pool. This is done through identifying and using certain keywords and writing compelling, useful content for both web users and search engines, namely Google. Through thorough SEO (search engine optimization) of one’s website, your brand will improve its odds of being found online, which will bring prospects to the top of your sales funnel.
Social Media. Besides researching companies and products on the web, consumers and lead prospects like to interact with others, including companies on social media. Social media pages are online places for companies to be more personable and to more casually interact with customers and prospects.
Tailored Content. Prospects at the top of the funnel need different content than those at the middle or bottom of the funnel. In fact, leads in each sales funnel stage requires unique, targeted content that speaks to them where they are in the buyer’s journey. Those at the top would get more value from blog posts, exposing them to the company and the brand’s knowledge of their industry. Those in the middle could benefit from social media posts, free downloads and free trials. Those at the bottom of the funnel who are about to make a purchase would see value in an email list sign-up or subscription with special offers as well as e-newsletters.
Email Marketing. In many cases, the numerous phone call attempts are no longer an option. Email has taken over telephony as a salesman’s go-to communication tool with prospects. Email is less obtrusive and disruptive and enables both the sales person and the prospect to communicate at any time, not just business hours.
Sales Analytics Programs. These useful tools help you monitor the progress of a sales or marketing campaign, keep tabs on a specific prospect in your database and automate content such as emails to specific subsections of your lead pool. Lead conversion with Salesforce is a great place to start.
No Perfect Funnel
No matter how elaborate your sales process is or how closely your sales and marketing teams work together, there will be leads that fall “through the cracks” in your conversion funnel. Prospects, or leads are people. They can change their minds in the process, stall in a certain stage or regress backwards in the funnel instead of moving forward. Some leads “drop off the map” because of accidental neglect from the sales or marketing department. Sometimes these “dead” leads simply break communication and interaction with the company or brand making it easy for the marketing and sales team to forget about him or her and not make any follow-up.
While most leads fall out of the funnel towards the top where not much time or energy is used in nurturing them, leads can fall out of the funnel at any stage, including the bottom of the funnel as they were about to make a purchase. These late-stage lead drop-outs are the most frustrating and disheartening. However, if leads don’t make it to their final destination, there is still hope.
A common mistakes sales people make is to automatically discount any leads that fell out of the funnel. While there are many reasons why a prospect can suddenly leave the conversion funnel, most sales and marketing people conclude that the individual isn’t interested in making a purchase. Why bother?
These “dead” leads may very well be suddenly disinterested in making a transaction with the brand and its products. They could also have gotten suddenly busy or preoccupied with something happening in their office. Maybe the timing just wasn’t right; they are interested in your product or service, but not right now. Maybe their company suddenly had to cut funds out of the budget. Not all “dead” leads are disinterested. Some may be interested in being nurtured into eventually making a sale in the future.
With Akify, our sales conversion software helps companies identify, target and “revive” their “dead” leads into converting customers. Our team manages these “dead” leads for you so your sales and marketing team can focus on the leads in your conversion funnel.
It’s important to not ignore, neglect or discount any lead, especially those who have fallen out of your conversion funnel in the middle and bottom of the funnel. If they made it through up to that point, they are likely interested in making a purchase and there is some other reason besides a lack of interest that caused them to drop out of the funnel.
A conversion funnel is a visual representation breaking down your various sales prospects along the buyer’s journey. Most funnels have four to seven stages with a top, middle and bottom portion. The top of the funnel is the largest and where prospects first hear about a company and the bottom of the funnel is the smallest and represents the sales qualified leads that are ready to convert and make a purchase. The goal is to get leads from the top of the funnel to the bottom. A variety of sales and marketing tactics and best practices such as social media, targeted Google ads and tailored content are used to make leads into paying customers.
If you want to improve your sales conversion rate, contact us at Aktify and let us help you “revive” those “dead” leads.