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If you sell products or services online, chances are you’ve come across the term “sales funnel.” Anyone trying to sell anything online needs an effective funnel to convert site visitors into leads. If a company can’t master building a sales funnel, its chances succeeding online are extremely low.
The primary purpose of a funnel is to move a fresh prospect through your sales process and eventually convert them into a paying customers. Funnel building can be incredibly challenging, especially if you’re just starting. However, you don’t need to be a tech wiz to build a successful sales funnel.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about funnel building and how you can start converting more of your traffic into high-quality leads.
What Exactly Is a Sales Funnel?
In short, a sales funnel is a series of actions someone has to take to become a paying customer for your business. For example, someone comes to your site and signs up for your email list. That action is the first step of your sales funnel.
Then, the same person clicks a link in one of your emails, and it takes them to a series of blog posts. Next, the person reads through one of your posts, finds a link to one of your case studies, and decides to learn more. After finishing the case study, they contact your sales team or leave their information and become a qualified leads.
This person has gone from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel, which is the ideal scenario. However, the above scenario is just one of many ways a sales funnel can drive more customers to your business.
A good sales funnel can come in many different shapes and forms, such as:
- Cold outreach
- Sales consultation
- And more!
Many online businesses have multiple sales funnels that all channel together toward the end. Practically any marketing materials you produce are a part of your sales funnel. Once you learn how to master building a sales funnel, the sky truly is the limit for your company.
Why Do Businesses Need a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is there to guide your prospects through your sales process. Without a funnel, a significant percentage of your traffic may steer away from your products or services because they don’t know what to do next. Think of a sales funnel as a way to incubate prospects until they’re ready to buy from you.
What’s more, understanding your sales funnel as a whole can help you find broken areas of your business. Sales funnels are rarely evergreen. You constantly need to optimize and update them to suit your market.
When it comes to converting sales, most things don’t happen instantaneously. Many people need to interact with your company several times before they purchase something. Your sales funnel is there to create those interactions and hopefully convert the potential customer into a paying client.
What Are the Different Steps in a Sales Funnel?
The moment a prospect hears about your company until they become a customer, they pass through several steps in your sales funnel. Understanding those steps will set you up for success when it’s time to build a funnel of your own. Please note that while each step is essential for a successful sales funnel, not all prospects will need to go through every step to become a paying customers.
Before you start building any funnel, you need to take the time to think about your buyer personas. Ponder what kind of people would buy from you and how can you build a funnel around their personality.
Your sales funnel can consist of as many steps as you see necessary. However, most sales funnels have the following four key stages:
The awareness stage is when a person discovers your business for the first time. It could be a video ad, Facebook post, Tweet, blog post, or even a billboard. This is the stage at which a prospect becomes aware of your products or services. Unless you’re dealing with an impulsive buyer, most people don’t make a purchase during this stage and need seven interactions with your business before buying.
However, the awareness stage is more designed to build rapport and catch attention. You should use creativity in this step because it will draw prospects further into your sales funnel. Your goal during the awareness stage shouldn’t be to sell but to spark curiosity.
People at the interest stage of your funnel likely have a general need for what you’re offering. However, they aren’t set on your business to be the one to make the transaction. Prospects at this stage are probably shopping around and comparing your prices/services to your competitors.
During this stage, you want to offer your prospects exceptional and engaging content to keep them interested in your company. Try offering some valuable information that they can use. Your goal during the interest stage is to set yourself apart from the competition and establish your brand as an industry leader.
At this stage, prospects are ready to make a purchase but aren’t necessarily sure who to give their business to. During the decision stage, a potential customer may take a close look at your prices, features, and other areas of your business that might influence their decision.
Something as small as shipping costs or a discount code could make the difference between someone choosing you or a competitor, so make sure everything in this stage is polished. Try and incentivize them to make the purchase.
This part of the funnel entails the actual transaction. Here is where your prospect will act and make a purchase with your company. You may think that there’s not a lot of effort that goes into this stage because the prospect has already made their decision.
Still, you need to make sure your checkout and onboarding processes are smooth. Otherwise, the prospect may lose trust in your business or service and request a refund. Not only would this cause you to lose money then and there, but it can also make you miss out on future income from upsells and renewals.
Steps to Building a Successful Funnel
If you want to build a sales funnel that compels people to buy, there are a few key principles you need to keep in mind when constructing your funnel. Above all, remember that your sales and marketing teams are working together throughout each step of the funnel. Whatever stage of the sales funnel the prospect is at, you should have a team ready to move them forward.
Here are some other important things to consider when building your marketing funnel:
Know Your Customers
A company that has a good idea of who its ideal client is will be more successful when it launches a sales funnel. Do your research to understand exactly who your clients are, what they need, and how they act. Without this information, you could waste a significant amount of time and resources constructing funnels with inadequate conversion rates.
One way to know your ideal customers is to look back at the clients that have the highest lifetime value—in other words, who has stayed with your company the longest and spent the most money. You can start to build a buyer persona based on this data.
Get Them Interested
Catching people’s attention in the digital age is extremely difficult. With social media, we’re scrolling through hundreds of posts per day and likely remember less than one percent of what we see. Therefore, you need to make sure your initial content (lead magnet, free trial, etc.) is interesting and relevant. Without the public’s attention, you’ll never get them to the middle of the funnel.
Develop a Landing Page
A landing page is a single website with one goal: getting the user to act. Companies generally direct traffic to landing pages from blog posts, paid ads, YouTube videos, and more. The landing page you build should be functional but not too confusing. Some of the most successful landing pages are extremely minimalistic. You can make yours look pretty, but focus more on the copywriting and calls to action.
Reach Out to Your New Leads
If you’ve captured leads using your landing page, congratulations; getting high-quality leads certainly isn’t easy. Now it’s time to reach out to those leads and move them to the bottom of your sales funnel by converting them into paying customers. The faster you contact your new leads, the better.
No doubt, mastering a sales funnel isn’t going to happen overnight. Sometimes it can take months to get everything working properly. However, your effort won’t be in vain as long as you stay patient. Remember, always consider every stage of the sales funnel when making any sort of adjustment. Each stage should work seamlessly with all the others.