How to Make the Most of your Sales Funnel
Sales funnels can help take your business from conception to success while increasing important metrics like conversion and customer retention. How you create and define your sales funnel ultimately depends on your industry and marketing strategy.
Your sales funnel is the journey your customer takes from start to finish. Imagine it as a real funnel. Something goes in the top and slowly gets narrowed and filtered down before exiting the other side. In sales, that “something” that goes in the top is your leads. After going through the sales funnel stages in your pipeline, the result is a converted customer.
Simply defining the steps of your sales funnel isn’t enough. You need to optimize your sales funnel to really get the most out of it.
Read on to learn about the different stages, find out some helpful tips on how to optimize your funnel, and see how a CRM can really help you reap the benefits of a sales funnel.
The 4 Sales Funnel Stages
Your customer passes through different stages of your sales pipeline from the first time they encounter your business until they make a purchase.
Before you even think about how to make a sales funnel for your business, you want to have a good grasp on what your funnel will look like. The four stages covered below are the standard ones, but depending on your business goals and marketing plan, you might want to customize it and add a few more.
To illustrate the stages and how the funnel works, we’ll use an example of a customer, Bill, who is looking for someone to mow his lawn.
Step 1: Awareness
This is the stage where a customer becomes aware of your business, products, or services.
In this stage, Bill knows he needs a solution for his overgrown grass. He goes on Google and searches for lawn mowing companies in his area. In his search results, he sees an ad from a local company that mows lawns, clicks on it, and lands on the company’s website.
Step 2: Interest
In this stage, the consumer will display interest by interacting with a brand or business they might want more information about. This can be something as simple as following a brand on social media or calling a store to ask about a product.
After landing on the website, Bill fills out a contact form for someone to get back to him with information about mowing his lawn.
Step 3: Decision
Here, a consumer is making a more concrete decision about whether or not they want to use a company’s services or make a purchase. You want to make sure you have enough marketing content to turn a consumer’s interest into a more stable decision.
Bill speaks with a representative from the lawn mowing company on the phone after they receive his contact information. The company offers him a promotional price since he’s a first time customer.
Step 4: Action
In the final stage of the sales funnel, the lead will convert into a paying customer. Checking out on an online store, signing a contract, or transferring money are all different ways in which the action stage can be completed.
In Bill’s case, he signs a contract with the lawn mowing company for the summer and transfers them the agreed-upon sum.
5 Ways to Optimize your Sales Funnel
The four stages of a sales funnel are a good starting point, but as I mentioned, you might want to add others, like education or retention.
There are a few other things you can do to optimize your funnel and each stage individually. Here are some tips on what you can do to increase sales with your funnel.
1. Understand Your Audience
In order to make the most out of your funnel, you need a deep understanding of your audience, clients, and industry.
If the funnel you’ve set up is not leading to sales, then chances are that you’re losing leads somewhere in the second or third step where you’re not maintaining enough interest to inspire a decision.
There are a few things you can do to get to know your audience, such as sending out surveys, collecting data and analytics, and looking to your competition. You should also create a buyer persona, which is a fictional representation of your ideal client. A persona can help guide your marketing strategy and inform important decisions.
2. Create Valuable Content
It’s not enough to simply distribute regular content on different channels. The content you put out needs to be engaging and valuable enough to create significant interest in your brand.
To optimize your sales funnel, you should be creating multiple forms of content for each stage. Here are a few examples:
- Blog: A blog is a great place to begin since you have a lot of space to be creative and provide your clients with extra information that can help them make a purchase. Blogging regularly can boost your website’s SEO, allowing you to rank higher on popular search engines.
- Social media posts: Posts can be broad and promote brand awareness, or they can be very specific and can include a CTA that encourages a viewer to make a purchase or contact your business. Use a variety of posts on different platforms to generate more leads.
- Landing pages: Create one or more targeted landing pages with relevant CTAs. Landing pages can get you a higher conversion rate than your website’s homepage since they’re more specific to a shopper’s needs.
- Videos: You can use videos in any stage of your funnel to create awareness, educate clients on a product, or encourage them to make a purchase. You can also integrate them into your blog or share them on your social channels to help gather more leads.
3. Make Good Use of Contact Forms
Contact forms help your sales funnel by collecting high-quality leads. Add contact forms to your website and link them to your social media posts in order to take a shopper who is in the “awareness” stage into the “decision” or “action” stages.
Another important form not to overlook is your email newsletter signup form. A newsletter is a great way to reach your audience and provide them with valuable information, such as your latest blog posts, new products, and special promotions.
4. Use CRMs to Track Funnel Success
Gathering leads is one thing, but you also need to handle and organize them correctly in order to be efficient.
A CRM works alongside any strategy you use to optimize your funnel. For example, leads from your contact form can go into your CRM. You can also use it to track where your leads are coming from so that you can better understand how your audience interacts with your brand. HubSpot has a great solution for a CRM as well as a Marketing and Sales Hub, and when used together, you can really make the most out of your funnel.
Many CRMs, like Pipedrive, allow you to generate a sales funnel or sales pipeline report so that you can track your progress. These reports can help you identify points in your funnel that can be improved. Which brings us to our last point…
5. Analyze and Measure Results
Your sales funnel is dynamic. Just because something worked well for a specific audience, promotion, or product, doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
You should regularly run reports from your CRM to help measure the results from your current funnel, identify weak spots, and make necessary changes. If you tried one strategy to garner interest in your product in the past, you might want to try a different one to see if it helps increase sales.
Furthermore, aside from converting leads, you also want to retain them and turn them into long-term clients. Analyzing your data and regularly reassessing your sales funnel is an important step in keeping your relationship with your clients fresh and relevant.
Now that you have a better understanding of the benefits of a sales funnel, you’ll be able to create one for your own business. Don’t rush this process. It’s important to put a good deal of thought into it to get the best results.
While it can seem overwhelming, having the right CRM will really help you in every stage of this process. Get started with a free trial of one of our recommended CRMs and start increasing your sales right away.