A well-structured and well-implemented sales funnel can open endless opportunities – just follow the four basic stages of customer acquisition.
Chaos doesn’t scale
Imagine the impact of having in place a predictable yet simple pathway for your potential customers to become actual customers. For many, this seems unrealistic or even impossible, but the fact is that the only way to really grow your sales is by ensuring that you have a robust and manageable sales funnel that defines and reflects the journey that you want your customers to follow.
A sales funnel must be well integrated with your marketing efforts, and in fact, many use the terms “marketing” and “sales funnel” interchangeably. The marketing tools you use are likely to include advertising, content and inbound marketing using social media and blogs, search engine optimization (SEO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO).
Too many businesses make use of these tools, tactics and channels haphazardly.
The objective of a successful sales funnel is to help your potential customers through each stage of the sales process, from beginning to end, in a predictable way that can be improved over time. While the actual experience will, of course, differ from one potential customer to another, depending on the product or services that you sell, the point of the sales funnel model is to guide both you and the customer through the sales process in a structured manner. While you should design your sales funnel with as many discrete stages as makes sense to their journey, using the four basic stages of a typical sale is a good place to start. These stages are: awareness, interest, decision and action.
They need to know you exist (Awareness)
The first stage is always awareness. While all the stages are crucial, this is the moment in which potential customers form their first impression of your business. This opportunity to learn about you and your services and products will come from the advertising you deploy, or it may be driven by content on social media (your own, or material that others post about your business), the quality, content and functionality of your website or perhaps even a simple Google search.
They want solutions to their problems, not to learn about you (Interest)
If a potential client is paying any attention to you, it’s important to remember that this is not the time to educate your customer on what you do, but rather how you make their lives or business better. Keep it about them. Consider the problem that they are trying to solve in their own business and inform them of how your product or service will in turn, solve their issues. Often, customers do not know what they want or need, or even what some of their problems are (or could be) until someone takes the time to point them out.
Weighing All the Options (Decision)
At this stage, the prospect is making the important decision whether to take advantage of your solution. Particularly in B2B situations, reconnecting and refreshing their initial awareness and interest via personal emails and phone calls is critical. Ask them if they have any additional questions and let them know that you have been giving a lot of thought to their needs. Offer any additional benefits to them to use your service and continue to stay in the forefront of their minds. If appropriate, references from other customers can be helpful (assuming those customers were happy with their outcomes).
Time to Make it Happen (Action)
Gaining a new customer may represent the end of the sales process, but it should only be the beginning of the relationship. Work with your customer and continue to show them that they made the right decision by hiring your company, seeking opportunities both for additional ways to support them, and referrals to new customers through their introductions and recommendations.