Since times immemorial, marketing and sales teams have strived to improve the flow of leads through the sales funnel, ie., to enable the seamless transition of a prospect from awareness stage to becoming a customer. Yet, we see that sales funnels at several organizations tend to fail.
To create a sales funnel that works for your organization, you need to understand that customers don’t necessarily follow a sequence, moving from one stage to another. Typically a customer interacts with a brand or an organization across several touchpoints before making a purchase decision.
So, before delving into the stages of the sales funnel, let’s look at the thought process that needs to go into building the funnel.
What is a sales funnel?
The easiest way to explain a sales funnel is the path your prospect takes on the way to becoming your customer. In other words, it refers to the buying process that organizations lead their prospects through to convert them to a customer.
A sales funnel is divided into several stages, from market identification to lead generation to nurturing the leads and more. Like the real world funnel, the top category of your sales funnel (website visitors) will be the largest, with prospects dropping off at various points along the path, with a much smaller percentage of the original traffic converting into a customer.
Image courtesy: CrazyEgg
The next logical question to answer is – why do prospects drop off at various points? The reason can range from expectations set on your ad to the content of your landing page on the website to the technical capabilities of your product, and much more. With each drop off, your bounce rate increases and the conversion rate reduces.
So building a sales funnel effectively is all about filling up your funnel, fixing the leaks, bridging the gaps, so that a greater percentage of your prospects become your customers. For instance, there’s no point spending on Facebook ads without fixing the leaks in your sales funnel. On the other hand, you don’t want a great sales funnel that no one enters.
Sales funnels can vary by industry. The funnel for a B2B enterprise software company can span a few months, whereas the journey through a sales funnel for an ecommerce company could last only a few minutes. However, funnels are broken down into stages so that you can look at a specific action the user or a visitor takes at each stage.
The value of a sales funnel
The sales funnel gives your sales team as well your organization a great perspective of where you are headed.
The impact of sales funnel on your prospects
Having a defined sales funnel helps you deliver the right message to the prospects in the right stages at the right moment. A prospect can get in touch with you at any moment in their customer journey, be it at the awareness stage or consideration stage or the decision making stage. And it becomes extremely critical to offer the right information based on the stage your prospect is. If you can accomplish this, your relevant communication helps instantly build trust with your prospects.
The impact of sales funnel on your organization
At any given point in time, the sales funnel gives you a view into the number of sales opportunities currently available to your organization and the sales team, with a potential revenue pipeline.
It streamlines your sales efforts and helps you:
- Focus your time on the qualified leads
- Move to the next stages faster
- Track your sales metrics better
5 steps to build a sales funnel
Let us now look at the steps involved in building a sales funnel.
1. Building a great landing page
The landing page is the first point of entry for potential customers into your website. Therefore your landing page creates the first impression about your product and organization. Hence, it’s important to make sure that your landing page is compelling and actionable. In short, you don’t just want people to visit your landing page. You want the right audience to reach your page, and drive them to take the desired action while they are on your website.
So, what are the key components of a landing page that converts?
C = Call to Action
O = Offer value
N = Narrow and precise focus on the value proposition
V = Visitor worthy
E = Effective and to the point headline
R = Responsive design
T = To the point and tidy
S = Social Proof
Call to Action (CTA): Simply put, it is the action you want your visitors to take. It is typically a button that you would see on web pages that says “Sign up”, “Download ebook”, “Contact us”, etc. It is absolutely critical to ensure that your CTA is as simple and clear as possible. It is advisable not to have several CTAs in one page and distract your visitors. The best pages accentuate only one simple, clear and easy to understand CTA upon a single glance.
Here’s an example of a CTA on crazzyegg’s landing page:
It drives the point clearly and tells you what to do and is also clear enough on what you can expect.
Offer value: This is a critical component of your landing page. Your visitor needs to know the value you are offering in exchange for the action you are expecting them to take. It could be a free trial of your product, a whitepaper, a free consultation, etc. It needs to be valuable to your visitor and also give you an opportunity to present the larger picture of how you can add value to their business (in case of B2B). The key to making an offer is to keep it time bound, which helps drive user action with a sense of urgency. Also it is seen that offers with a shorter deadline drive better results.
Narrow and precise value proposition: In the words of my boss “cut chase” 🙂 You need to keep it simple, precise than beating around the bush. Take away the unnecessary navigation bars on your landing page if it’s distracting visitors from the CTA, remove the additional choices and limit any content that doesn’t serve the purpose of moving your visitor down the funnel.
Visitor worthy: Your visitor probably stumbled upon your page, and might only spend a few seconds before they move on. So it’s important to keep the content on the page in a way a visitor can consume at a glance, for example – product features, benefits, the pain points you address, etc. The key is to A/B test a few options and continuously tweak your page.
Effective headline: This is pretty straightforward. Make sure your headline stands out clearly and tells the visitor what to expect. You can use tools like Sharethrough to check the effectiveness of your headlines.
Responsive design: Your visitors could be accessing your landing page from their mobiles, laptops or desktops of varying resolutions. Make sure your page layout is adaptable to the various screen sizes and also ensure that the key elements of your page aren’t missed out when accessed through devices with smaller screens.
To the point: From a visual standpoint, ensure that your page communicates to the point and looks clean with plenty of white space, bullets and videos.
Social proof: Despite all the promise, it is important to build trust. It is easier for your visitors to trust you, if you already have validation from customers, media mentions, use cases and statistics on how you helped your existing customers. Ensure you put your best foot forward by adding relevant social proof to your landing pages.
2. Planning your offer
The next important step in building your sales funnel is to ensure that you present an offer that’s interesting and relevant to the visitor. So, it’s about planning and building a meaningful offer that can go on your landing page.
Let’s say you are a multi-product software company, you need to take a solution approach to be helpful to your visitors. Providing an offer is not just about presenting your product to them but about planning and offering the right solution to your customer. For instance, if your organization offers a CRM as well as an email marketing software, it makes sense to offer it as a marketing or sales bundle.
Yet, always have an upsell offer at the back end which can be promoted to the ones that move to the next stage of the funnel from the pre-selling stage.
3. Have upsell and cross-sell plans
One of the key aspects to building your sales funnel is to create enough upselling and cross-selling opportunities for yourself. In fact, its 5X-25X more expensive to acquire a customer than retain an existing, and why not maximize the opportunity with upselling a cross-selling.
Upselling and cross-selling can in fact happen at scale because you are going to reach out to customers who are already using one or more of your products. It means that the trust is already established at this stage and there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. So, in essence if you aren’t upselling or cross-selling, you are leaving money on the table.
4. Make sure you provide downsize/downgrade options
Customers churns are inevitable and happen due to various reasons. But, you can make sure that your customers aren’t churning due to the inability to downgrade their current plan or package. You need to be offering the opportunity to downgrade. Do not look at downgrade option as loss of sale, in fact, it’ll help you keep your loyal customers from churning regardless of their budget constraints.
The key here is to let your customers know clearly what they get when they downgrade. Here’s an example of how we at Freshchat are transparent about what customers can expect when they downgrade to any of the lower plans.
More importantly, you need to be available to support your customers when they are seeking help at this stage. Live chats are a great option to support customers on the go. No customer likes to send an email and wait for support to get back without an ETA. Or even go ahead and offer self service options, so that the customers can help themselves. In fact, with a live chat tool such as Freshchat, you can set up suggested FAQ articles based on the page of your website the customer is on.
5. Engage your customers, build loyalty
Sales conversion is just one aspect of the customer relationship puzzle, you also need to focus on building a strong after-conversion experience. The final step in building your sales funnel is to keep the momentum going by engaging your customers effectively. It is important to follow up with the customers you acquired and ensure that they are happy with your products and services. Encourage them to interact with you and share their experiences with your organization.
- How easy or difficult is it to use your product?
- Is your support team easily reachable and responsive?
- How you can serve them better?
The key is to understand that customer engagement is all about value creation and hence the need to think beyond revenue generation. In other words, know your customers better and beyond what they buy.
One of the ways to accomplish this is building a loyalty program. Make sure it is as human as possible and automate only the right areas for the right reasons. Give your loyal customers the advantage – let them be the first to know about newer offers and deals.