How To Build A Sales Funnel
Sales is the lifeblood of every business, and if there’s one skill that can make a business successful, it is the ability to generate sales consistently.
So, how can your business generate sales on a consistent basis?
The answer lies in how well your sales strategies are working. And to measure the effect and efficiency of your strategies, you need a well-defined framework.
Here’s the truth – not every lead that you generate will become your customer (and this is where a sales funnel comes into the picture).
A funnel works as a framework to help you understand which stages are effectively contributing to higher conversions and which ones are contributing to losses or lead drop-offs.
In this part 3 of our sales funnel guide for beginners, we’ll cover how to build a solid sales funnel (and the steps you need to take for building it). If you aren’t sure about the basics of a funnel, read Part 1 and Part 2 first before going into this one.
The Stages of a Sales Funnel
A sales funnel progresses in stages, and each stage is a visual representation of the buyer’s journey.
From the moment when you attract people to a website (or even a physical store), to the moment when you finally convert them into customers, every buyer’s journey can be mapped according to the stages of a funnel.
Here are the four major stages –
- Awareness: where people are discovering your business, products or services.
- Interest: where people start showing interest towards knowing more about your business.
- Decision: where people start evaluating a product or a service, and start considering the value or benefit of they can get.
- Purchase: where people start purchasing your products or services.
Some businesses usually add another stage where they try to ‘upsell’ their customers, which can be defined as the fifth stage of the funnel (more on that below).
Typically, a sales funnel is the broadest at the top (stage 1) and it narrows down as people move through their buying journey, ultimately getting the narrowest at the bottom end (stage 4).
Your goal as a business is to ensure each stage of the buyer’s journey is carefully planned to get maximum number of conversions.
And to achieve this goal, you must build a sales funnel first.
Okay, so how do you build a sales funnel?
Building a sales funnel isn’t too complicated, but at the same time, it is a time-taking process that requires thought and clarity.
Remember – your nature of business or industry can vary, but the fundamentals remain same.
Here are the fundamental building blocks of a sales funnel –
Typically, people can find about your business through multiple channels like – online ads, videos, social media posts, blogs, etc.
But how do you sell something to them? You first attract their attention.
To sell in the online world, you need a landing page, that works like your virtual storefront through which people can learn about your products or services.
Once you get them on your landing page – it’s important to create a good first impression and show what your brand or business has to offer. As this stage is going to be the first point of contact with your target audience, making a good first impression will go a long way.
Here are some tips to create an attractive landing page for a good first impression:
- Make it clear and beautiful (attract)
- Highlight what your business does (inform)
- Appeal to emotions using customer testimonials, offers and benefits (engage)
As a rule of thumb – Keep things simple.
Don’t be too preachy or you’ll sound like a pompous brand. At the same time, don’t be afraid to showcase what sets you apart from the competition.
Now that you’ve got the attention of your leads, how do you take them through the next stages of your funnel?
You need to pique their curiosity.
It’s time for you to offer a bait or a ‘hook’ to get them interested in exploring your products or services in detail.
#2. A Valuable Offer (for the Interest stage)
At this stage, your leads are considering your products/services and while understanding whether you can solve their problems or meet their needs.
Your goal here should be – engaging your target audience with something valuable. Whether you want them to learn more about your business, set up a phone call or schedule an in-person meeting, you must first show what’s in it for them.
When you start by giving value to your target audience, only then you can expect to gain some value back from them in the form of their email, contact details, appointments, etc.
Typically, businesses can engage their audience through different ways, some of them are –
- Informative blog posts
- Social media marketing
- Free trials
- Email marketing
Once you start engaging them, some of these leads will start showing more interest in learning about your products or services.
At this point, they’ll be ready to move to the next stage of their buying journey. From this stage of onwards, things start getting interesting (and a lot more crucial for your sales goals).
#3:.A Meaningful Conversation (for the Decision stage)
Now that you’ve generated leads, educated and engaged them and even qualified some of them as sales-ready prospects, your next task is to nurture them during their decision making stage.
So, how would you nurture them?
Hint: you start by having a meaningful conversation first.
Listen to their pain-points clearly – this will help you pitch your product/service as a direct solution to their problems. The better you understand them, the higher your chances of converting them.
The decision stage is where you get to show you authority as a business that cares and understands their customers better than anyone else.
Let’s take an example to understand this.
Say you are in the business of selling enterprise software for sales teams. Your target audience looks like a mix of top level leaders as well as mid-level sales managers in a B2B industry.
You’ve spoken to some of them and understood their problems clearly. To help them evaluate your product, you share an in-depth case study on how a key industry player used your software to grow 4x in just one year.
When you do this, your prospects will see clear value and identify you as an authority. Since you’re helping them make an informed decision, they’ll be happy to listen to what you have to say.
At this stage of the sales funnel, your prospects already know about your business and are considering how it can solve their problems – you simply need to nurture them till they become purchase-ready.
And to help them move to the purchase stage of their journey, you should start with trust.
#4. A Trustworthy Relationship (for the Purchase stage)
So, you’ve captured the buyer’s interest and understood their pain-points and also qualified some of them as prospects.
The next logical step is to start pitching your product/service and talk about pricing, right?
Not quite yet.
Although your prospects know you and your products or services, not all of them might be ready to commit. In fact, some of them might stay in the decision phase for some time, and some could even move out of your sales funnel entirely by choosing a competitor.
Your job is to nudge these prospects towards making a purchase decision. And how can you do that?
Often, businesses use popular sales strategies like – limited time offers, seasonal discounts, etc. to create a sense of urgency among prospects. But sometimes, even these tempting strategies can fail if you are missing out on something that’s much more important.
To close more sales, you need to build better relationships, and to build relationships with your prospects, you need to generate trust.
Every sale is a result of a consumer trusting a company with their time and money – and the more they trust you, the more likely they are to buy what you’re selling.
Here are three tips on having meaningful sales calls that build trust:
- Actively listen to your prospects and answer their queries as clearly as possible. Don’t start with pricing or payment plans before understanding if what you’re selling can be of use to them or not.
- If they are considering similar products or services like yours. Don’t hesitate in comparing yourself to the competition. Clearly highlight the value and benefits they can get out by choosing you.
- Sometimes, prospects might also require a final nudge before committing, usually this nudge comes in the form of a deal, discount or special offer. If the need arises, don’t hesitate to go the extra mile, but at the same time, make sure to highlight that you’re doing this extra bit only for them.
During this stage of the funnel, your sales reps should focus solely on building relationships and generating confidence in the buyer’s heart and mind.
Building relationships is hard – it takes skill and patience – but if you get it right, you’ll see the beautiful light at the end of the funnel, in the form of sales, conversions and customers!
And that’s when you’ve not just made a sale, but earned a happy customer.
What happens next?
It’s okay to think – “Is that all to the sales funnel? What happens to those who become my customers?”
Actually, the fifth or final part of the funnel is all about keeping your customers happy and committed to you in the long run.
You’ve earned these customers after a lot of time, effort and patience – now it makes sense to keep them engaged.
Because these customers can happily become your brand advocates or ‘promoters’.
Research shows that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family, thus nurturing your customers will turn them into your brand loyalists , ultimately giving you that sweet sales growth through word-of-mouth and referral mediums.
Time to Start Building Your Own Sales Funnel
Just like the purpose of a map is to guide and navigate – a sales funnel works like a map that tells you how and where your target audience is moving (and the conversions you’re getting at each stage of the buyer’s journey).
Once you start seeing things through a funnel view, generating consistent sales and building better customer relationships will be a lot easier.
To sum it up, here’s what you should keep in mind before building a sales funnel –
- Help visitors easily navigate your website or store by giving them enough context and information during their awareness/discovery phase. Give them the information they need to aware themselves about your business.
- Support your products or services with use cases, testimonials, ebooks, case studies or comparison guides to help prospects gain confidence and show interest in knowing more about your products or services.
- Strive to build a trustworthy relationship over a sales call. Understand the pain-points of your prospects clearly and pitch your product or service accordingly to help them make an informed purchase decision.
- Continue nurturing your existing customers, even after they’ve made a purchase. Try to upsell and drive word-of-mouth referrals to create more sales opportunities.
Smart businesses, whether small or large, swear by their sales funnel to get a clear and objective view of the buyer’s journey and align their marketing and sales strategies based on the conversions they’re getting at each stage.
The result is engaged customers and a healthy sales growth.
The funnel is the future of sales – and now it’s time for you to start building your own.