The sales funnel metaphor is somewhat misleading; in real life, the process never goes as smoothly as liquid down a funnel. In the last decade, digital marketing, artificial intelligence (AI), and CRM have drastically changed the process of converting new leads into customers. Given this, it’s increasingly important that business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing teams are aligned in their views on a sales funnel strategy and lead generation as a whole.
The strategies used to gather information tend to vary based on the size and scope of the purchase. Recognizing that you’re hungry, for example, might result in a quick Yelp search for restaurants in your area. Deciding which provider to use to install a new inground pool at your home, on the other hand, will involve calling around, reading company reviews, visiting showrooms, and talking with salespeople.
Some business owners are moving away from the term “marketing funnel” because they think it’s too mechanical or simplistic to describe the lead nurturing sequence by which customers move from awareness to purchase. I think it’s still a useful way to describe a complex process and it’s a good visual to imagine the entire process from start to finish.
The last step in the sales funnel is to keep your momentum going. Follow up with all the new customers you have acquired and ensure they are happy with their product or service. A great way to accomplish this is to offer a membership-based rewards program. This will allow you to remain in contact with customers, giving you the perfect means for telling them about new deals and services.
Through developing your online course, you should have the basis for some initial content to promote. Certainly, if you are just starting to create a course, then now’s the time to think about repurposing some of the content you will create. This would be blogs, guides, checklists, review articles, videos, webinars, podcasts, opinion pieces on Medium and LinkedIn and so forth. Make sure in this phase to create one or more lead magnets, such as guides, checklists, diagrams, etc. that you can leverage to collect emails later on.
Eric Siu is the CEO of digital marketing agency Single Grain, which has helped companies such as Amazon, Uber and Salesforce acquire more customers, and co-founder of ClickFlow, an SEO experimentation tool that helps you increase your Google ranking. He also hosts two podcasts: Marketing School with Neil Patel and Growth Everywhere, an entrepreneurial podcast where he dissects growth levers that help businesses scale. Follow him on Twitter @ericosiu
On the contrary, if your new customers are welcomed by a thoughtful onboarding process, personal attention and are educated about all the resources they are going to be needing to use your product successfully, they’re more likely to confirm to themselves that they made the right choice. And when they’re confident, they’re more likely to pass on their satisfaction to others in the form of product endorsements and recommendations. This further leads to increased brand advocacy.
First, a common language needs to be set up to ensure marketing knows when a lead should be moved from marketing’s control, and placed in the sales funnel. There are two terms, "marketing-qualified lead" (MQL) and "sales-qualified lead" (SQL) or “sales-accepted-lead,” which all sales funnels must embrace to keep both teams aligned. When marketing has a lead ready to talk to sales, the lead should be marked as an MQL, meaning marketing has gotten it to the point where they believe sales should take over. If sales agree the lead is sales-ready, they accept the lead and move it from MQL to SQL (or SAL), and the handoff is complete. If not, the lead goes back to marketing.
Getting this timing right prevents losing prospects by bombarding them with too much information or giving them the hard sell too early. This is why moving prospects through the funnel is often called “nurturing.” Seventy-eight percent of business buyers seek salespeople who act as trusted advisors with knowledge of their needs and industry. Prospects should ideally only receive the information and sales help they need when they need it.
As each individual deal moves through each phase, the probability of closing the sale will change. The further along the sales funnel, the more information is exchanged and more apparent it becomes using the product will be advantageous to the customer. At this point, there is a higher potential for that deal to be ultimately successful unless the deal is moved to closed-lost in which case, the probability moves to zero.
3. Follow-Up – Not all leads are going to move smoothly from one step of your funnel to the next. And not all leads are going to be ready to make a purchase decision right off the bat. That’s where the follow-up stage comes in. This part of the funnel is meant to redirect leads who have exited your funnel and bring them back into the sales process. Retargeting ads and email campaigns make up the bulk of this stage.
One quick word of caution, though. With every piece of content you create for every stage of your funnel, you’re generating data. Though all of it is useful to your sales process in some way, it’s easy to get bogged down in data and metrics tracking instead of focusing on the few key performance indicators (KPIs) that will actually give you the information needed to make meaningful improvements.
Matt Ackerson founded AutoGrow (Petovera Inc.) in 2010 as a conversion-focused web design agency. The company has since worked one-on-one with over 500 customers and clients to create their sales funnels. Matt is a graduate of Cornell University. He and AutoGrow have been featured in Techcrunch, Forbes, Inc, Venture Beat, Mashable, and Popular Science among others. He and the team write in-depth articles on digital marketing, sales funnel design, and also offer an advanced funnel training course here on AutoGrow.co
Blog posts: This tactic employs the principles of content marketing by offering educational articles of interest to your target audience. They’re designed to give advice or helpful insights on topics related to your business or industry, and consequently, draw consumers to your site who are interested in this information. These educational, informative posts also showcase your company’s knowledge and expertise, building your brand with the target audience.
How many people could be inside the Amazon funnel? Basically anyone. Not only does Amazon offer a mind-boggling number of products, but it also offers a broad array of highly desirable personal and business services, including cloud hosting and fulfillment. In addition, Amazon’s platform that is so technologically advanced that it allows almost an infinite number of people to be in the platform at any given time.
This funnel is a starting point to a funnel with landing page, OTO-page and thank you page. You can optimize it to your liking. I use Clickfunnels for all my funnels and I highly recommend it due to their analytics. Without analytics your funnel is useless as you do not know at what point people drop off your funnel meaning you can not fix what you do not know.
There are email warming sequences that include things like personalized value-driven stories, tutorials and even soft pushes to webinars, and of course product suggestions that happen over days or even weeks. The truth is that most prospects won't buy from your website at first glance, especially if they're only just becoming aware of you today. It takes time. Thus, the funnel is a multi-modality process, as there are a variety of relationship-building experiences and "touches" that occur through several stages.