The Importance Of A Stellar Company Sales Funnel
A funnel is a way to help you conceptualize how customers may flow through your sales processes. You can define it in a way that makes the most sense to your business.
What Is A Sales Funnel?
What is a sales funnel? It’s a marketing concept that describes the journey your potential customers make with your company and products. The funnel is wide at the top, where many will enter. However, most of those entering the top will not continue down the funnel.
As you take people through your funnel, it conceptually gets smaller. These are the people who have the greatest chance of buying from you. In fact, one stage of the funnel represents the buyers.
This wide-to-narrow path is how the phrase sales funnel was developed. It helps online business owners understand the process it takes to acquire customers who will buy from you.
A classic sales funnel has four stages, although you can define whatever works for your situation. Still, it’s helpful to know the concept that is used throughout the marketing industry. The four stages are awareness, interest, decision, and action.
When customers first learn about your brand and products, they enter the awareness stage. They likely haven’t heard of your company, which makes them cold leads. A customer at this stage hasn’t developed trust to buy from you.
The next stage is concerned with identifying problems and helping customers relate to them. You can use storytelling to help them learn why the problem exists and some hints at possible solutions. Customers become warmer leads at this stage.
The customers who are affected by the problem will flow to the decision stage. These customers are getting even warmer to your company and brand. They’re starting to trust that you can provide the solutions they seek.
Customers at this stage have made several comparisons. The key to keeping people interested at this stage is to hold their hands. You don’t necessarily want to sell them, although that can happen.
In the last stage, the customer purchases from your company because they trust you. The funnel has done its job, and they found the perfect solution in your product to solve their problems.
Why Do Sales Funnels Matter For Your Business?
Once you have a well-defined sales funnel, you can implement your marketing initiatives. Based on the various stages of the funnel, you’ll know what to do and when.
You never know when a customer will buy. Some will buy on impulse as soon as they see your offer. More likely, though, customers will go through a process. If you don’t have them integrated into your funnel, they’ll search elsewhere for parts of that process.
For instance, if you only had a sales page and nothing else, if customers don’t buy, you’ll never see them again. On the other hand, when you nurture them throughout your sales funnel, you’ll break through the barriers that prevent them from buying.
The above describes at a high level why a sales funnel matters for your business. Based on these, you can learn about three main reasons that having a sales funnel can produce greater returns. These are purchase cycles, customer sophistication, and trust. When you learn how to respond to these situations, you greatly increase your chances of sales.
Purchase Cycles: They Ebb and Flow
Customers have different motivations for buying. Some people are spontaneous and love instant gratification. At the opposite end are people who need to research every aspect of a purchase. These people may even wait until the next generation of a product is released.
Many customers will be somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. They aren’t ready to buy immediately, but they won’t need volumes of data to make a decision. You’ll need to nurture these customers through your sales cycle.
Your funnel will need to provide different information for each stage of the process. The discovery phase is high-level information to warm up your leads. You may mention products, but the main focus is information about the industry and the categories of products. You can start to introduce storytelling at this phase, but that’s not as important.
In the middle of the funnel, you’ll get the researchers and the product comparisons. The research isn’t fully product-specific, but it’s narrowing down the field to a few choices. You can start to increase the intensity of the stories.
The bottom of the funnel is where the customer takes action. The customer is ready to trust you, and you guide them to the purchase by showing how your product solves their problems.
Your Customers Are Very Sophisticated
Before the internet, marketers could use whatever mumbo jumbo they wanted to sell products. Consumers didn’t have access to information in the same way companies did. That gave companies a huge advantage when selling.
Today, consumers look up information about any product, service, or brand. There isn’t much that’ll escape their notice. That makes for quite a sophisticated consumer. Except in rare instances, the old methods of marketing will fall short.
Customers are capable of researching products, but many are busy and would prefer not to do it themselves. Provide this information for them, and you will win over these customers. The research must be comprehensive enough to free them from doing it themselves. Any gaps and you could lose credibility, which defeats the purpose.
Your funnel can help support the sophisticated consumer with the information they seek. If they understand that your company provides insight and builds your credibility, they’ll be more willing to buy from you. These customers will be repeat customers, and they’ll share your company with friends and family.
Treat the selling aspects of your funnel as a secondary function. If you appear to be trying to sell, you will lose people in your funnel.
Sales Funnels Are Great For Building Customer Trust
In the early days of the internet, people were afraid to make purchases online. They didn’t trust unknown vendors and weren’t comfortable sending credit card information to an unknown place. If customers bought online, they called the payment information on the phone.
Amazon, eBay, and PayPal have made the process much easier and safer. However, customers still don’t trust unfamiliar vendors. They aren’t afraid to make payments anymore. They just want to make those payments with verified and trustworthy vendors.
It’s difficult to establish trust online. If you start a blog, you’re joining the millions of others who are doing the same. The competition is intense. By having a sales funnel, though, you suddenly have the means to provide that trust.
The funnel keeps your brand in the sights of your customers. When they are ready to purchase, your company won’t be unfamiliar. You have become an authority to these customers because your funnel has fed them highly-valuable information.
How To Build A Great Sales Funnel
- Determine which customers you want to target:
You increase the chance of attracting actual buyers when you target specific people. Create a customer persona for ideal customers.
- Target the mediums you’ll use to get people to your funnel:
Create landing pages, PPC campaigns, and post on social media. Other techniques include SEO, affiliate marketing, and brand ambassadors.
- Create a series of valuable content that you’ll provide to your funnel:
- Gather stories from your existing customers:
Ask permission to use their stories as part of your funnel. People love to see themselves profiled and will likely share with friends and family.
- Ensure the content is targeted for each stage of the sales funnel:
At the top, people are looking for basic information. They aren’t ready to buy.
However, In the middle, profile the problems that people may be having and plant the idea that a solution exists. Increase the use of storytelling. Get specific on the benefits of the category of products that solve the problem. You can continue to use storytelling, but guide them to how these products can help them.
The bottom stage of the funnel convinces buyers that your product not only solves their problems but also is the best solution.
- Monitor the data from your funnel to look for areas that can be improved:
Confirm that actual buyers are the same people you’ve been targeting. Track the analytics from all the components of your funnel to see which are working.
Our Final Thoughts On Sales Funnels
Adding a sales funnel is a must. If your business has been putting this off, you could be leaving money on the table. It has the potential to add more income, but also repeat purchasers.
When you nurture the people on your sales funnel, they become part of your online family or tribe. They also share your posts and articles. This helps you grow your customers even further. You have the tools to get your sales funnel running.
It is helpful to analyze other sales funnel examples on the internet. You’ll recognize some of them the next time a web page asks for your email address, although that is only part of a funnel.
At Fora Financial, we love helping business owners with useful and timely tips. You can sign up for our newsletter to read the tips when they get published.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you target customers?
Marketers like to use a concept known as a customer persona or customer avatar. Use Google Analytics to track the data from your website, and give you insight to who’s visiting. Also, analyze the followers of your competitors on social media. These people are part of your target audience.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.