How To Build A Foolproof Sales Funnel That Actually Works?
One word that you’d find in any conversation with a salesperson or a marketer is ‘funnel’. While every marketing and sales professional understands that their sales process needs a funnel, only a few are able to build a successful sales funnel. More often than not, people are unable to put in the right time, effort, and most importantly, research needed to build the funnel. As a result, they end up with a funnel that may meet all the theoretical requirements but is rarely effective.
We’ve already covered the basics of sales funnel management and its stages in one of the earlier articles. So, we’d get straight to the point here and talk about how you can build a sales funnel for your business.
Steps to build a successful sales funnel
An effective sales funnel can be built in 6 key steps. However, note that these steps may overlap at times as sales is an ongoing and cyclical process. Let’s dive deeper into what these steps are to understand this better.
Step 1: Know your audience
Often overlooked, any sales funnel begins with an understanding of the audience you want to target. One of the major reasons why most marketing leads don’t convert to sales is because the leads don’t match the target audience. As a result, they are not relevant for the salespeople to pursue. A fallout of this is that your sales team spends a major part of their team sorting out the suitable leads from the bogus ones.
Their work becomes a little easier if they have a clear description of the audience. They know the demographics of the audience enough to separate out the irrelevant ones from the basic information provided by them, instead of spending hours on calls to know if they’re a prospect to pursue.
Researching about your audience also helps you understand their pain points, their interests, and expectations. Using such information, you are able to find the right channels to reach them and the right position for your business.
Step 2: Organize leads entering the funnel
Once you know your audience, you need to categorize them into buyer personas. For instance, if your product is a kids learning tool, your audience is not only the child but also their parents, as they are the final decision-makers. That being said, you can’t target both of them with the same message, right?
While the kid needs to know that your tool is fun and exciting for them, the parents need to understand that the tool would help their child learn and grow. This is where you divide your audience and target them accordingly.
Similarly, in a business, you build your personas based on the designation of the person, their job role, the business function they work in. Based on that, you can mark and assign your leads better. For instance, a founder could be engaged by a sales leader for a business decision. A junior HR could be targeted by any sales team member.
Step 3: Qualify leads in the funnel
Once you’ve your personas figured out, you can qualify your leads based on different factors like relevance, likelihood to convert, behavior. This is where you use a lead scoring system. This is the process of ranking your leads depending on how valuable they are to the business. The higher the score, the more their value.
Ideally, you need to divide leads into hot, warm, and cold and then match them to different buyer personas. The more relevant personas would get a higher score.
Let’s break it down for you. Hot, warm, and cold leads come under behavioral scoring that lets to put leads into the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. Hot leads are the ones that are eagerly looking to purchase what you offer and know about your business, so they come at the bottom of the funnel. A warm lead knows about you but is not as eager to purchase, hence, they’re somewhere in the middle of the funnel. Lastly, a cold lead is completely uninterested in purchasing at the moment and barely knows about you, so they are at the top of your funnel. So, a hot lead would have a higher value than a cold one as they need to be engaged soon to convert. However, it gets tricky once your buyer personas come into the picture.
Here you take into account their demographics, behavior, etc. For instance, if you’re trying to sell a sourcing tool, here’s how the scores would play out. A director or a VP from the company would have a higher value than a manager or entry-level professional. More importantly, the Director of Procurement or Sourcing would get a higher value than the VP of Marketing as they’re more relevant to your product. Here’s how a lead scoring system would look like:
Source: Out Funnel
Even though a seasoned sales professional would be able to gauge this value by looking at the lead’s information, it is a rather challenging task for most sales team folks. They’ve got to consider which factors to include in the score, how many points to allot to each factor, and then work on all possible permutations and combinations to assign an apt score for each persona.
This is where a sales funnel management software or a CRM could really come to your business’ rescue. They’ve got templates and automated tools to help you set up an efficient scoring system quickly and easily.
Step 4: Engage leads through the right channels and message
A study revealed that online leads are nine times more likely to convert if you follow-up with them within 5 minutes after they make contact. This means if someone lands on your website and fills in a simple form, if you’re able to reach them out within 5 minutes, you shoot up your chances of getting a new customer.
However, practically, you’ve got to have a massive sales team to be able to call up each person that fills any and every online form or lead generation data. Also, this would not be the optimum utilization of your sales team’s time and efforts. Instead, once you get a lead, you organize and qualify them with a score, and based on the score, you decide whether to call them or not. This way, you filter a large chunk and focus your sales team’s efforts on the most adequate leads.
This, however, does not mean that you don’t engage with the rest of the leads. You just engage with them differently. Your sales team immediately engages with the high-value leads through a call, you send an automated email to others, or engage them through relevant social media campaigns depending on their score and persona.
Step 5: Automatically move leads down the funnel
Every time you make a contact with a lead, their relationship with the brand changes. A simple social media ad that a lead engages with leads to awareness, an action on an email shows interest and a detailed call with a sales rep can reflect a decision. You not only have to engage actively with a lead through the funnel, but you also need to tag them based on the stage they’re at in the funnel.
Your funnel should be designed such that each and every touchpoint helps you move the lead down the funnel automatically. This means tracking every communication and contact made with the lead so that if another salesperson looks at it, they’re able to make relevant communication instead of repeating what’s already been shared. The key is to plan your funnel communication such that every effort pushes the lead to the next stage, from awareness to interest, to decision, and finally towards action.
Step 6: Nurture leads in the funnel
While in the previous step you actively push the leads down the funnel, what happens to those leads who don’t engage or want to convert immediately? Do you let them go? Not really. You nurture those leads with informative content, that keeps your brand fresh in their minds. That way, as and when they do get interested, they consider you over your competition.
Why is this needed, you may ask? Just because a lead is not engaging or converting presently, doesn’t mean that they’d never want to become your customer. Maybe they’d reconsider over time, or they would have a demand later. For instance, if you’re an insurance company and you get a lead. By the time your sales rep contacts them, they’ve already bought another policy. So, do you delete that lead forever? No, they’d need a renewal next year, right? That’d be the time for you to make a move. So, for such leads, you create engaging blog posts, videos, and social media posts to keep them aware of your brand. Always keep in mind that once you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind. Hence, it’s imperative to regularly jog your lead’s memory.
In the end
There’s no denying the fact that building a sales funnel is not everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, only a small group is able to get it right. The key is to deal with each lead strategically. In the present times, sales are more about smart work than hard work.
Your best aid in the process can be a sales funnel management software or CRM. They’ve got a lot of automation to help you carry out most of these steps smoothly with the least effort so that your team can focus more on strategic actions than rigorous tagging and scoring. If you’re planning to invest in funnel management software, then we’ve combined a list of features to look for, and the best funnel management software out there.