Beginning With The Basics: Introduction To Sales Funnel Management
Your marketing team burns the midnight oil to come up with engaging campaigns and attract your target audience to get you prospects that are interested in your brand through lead generation. That’s where your marketing team’s toil ends and your sales team takes over.
What happens next? Your sales team engages with the prospects and you get a new customer. Wish it was that easy! In fact, according to Salesforce, a shocking 79% of the marketing leads never turn into sales. That means out of every 10 leads you generate, merely 2 of them are likely to become your customers.
Where’s the gap, you may ask? It is the lack of a well-thought-out sales funnel. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the world of sales funnel management beginning with what a sales funnel actually is.
What is a Sales Funnel and Sales Funnel Management?
A quick and dirty version would be that a sales funnel is the journey your prospect takes to convert into a paying customer. Essentially, a sales funnel identifies how close a lead is getting towards a purchase depending on their interaction with the brand. More often than not, it is just a visual representation of the interested target’s journey through the sales pipeline (we’ll cover this in a bit!). Since, during the course of the journey, many of the leads drop out, and only the interested ones move ahead, the funnel, too, gets narrower.
You probably would have put two and two together by now to know what Sales Funnel Management is. You are right. It is the process of overseeing the prospects’ journey through the sales funnel.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of Sales Funnel Management, let us tell you why you should give a hoot about it in the first place.
Why Sales Funnel Management Matters?
More often than not, we get so focused on the goal that we forget to look at the journey. While it’s clear that you want your lead to convert into a customer, shooting arrows in the dark with no direction to it, might not get you the desired results. A Sales Funnel becomes the pathway you need to follow to get your leads to conversion, in a more organized fashion. There are four reasons why sales funnel management makes a huge difference to your business.
1. Focused Efforts
Depending on the stage of the funnel where your leads or prospects are, you can focus your efforts to push them towards the goal. If you don’t know where the loose ends lie, you’d be busy spending time and money on the stage which doesn’t really need that input.
3. Easy filtering
Once you have a streamlined way of knowing about your leads and their behavior journey, you are also able to identify leads that are cold or irrelevant. You’re able to filter out the window shoppers from those who actually want to buy what you offer. Then, you can devote your resources to the ones who matter.
2. Better strategy
Gone are the days where you could go for a one-size-fits-all strategy for all your leads and expect them to convert. Depending on how far a prospect is in their journey, you get to prepare a marketing strategy that caters to that section. That way, you’re more likely to see progress.
4. Accurate forecasting
When you know how many leads are closer to conversion than those who’re not, you are able to accurately predict your sales for the month, quarter, and even the year. With that clarity, you’re able to allot budgets more efficaciously.
The next question to get to is that how does the sales funnel manage to do all that we just stated. The answer is simple–by dividing the journey into stages. Let’s see what these stages are.
Stages of the Sales Funnel
Depending on the level of engagement a person has with your brand, the stages of the sales funnel are defined. They are four in total.
Stage 1: Awareness
Any lead at this stage knows that you exist. They have some cognition about your business and what you offer. That’s about it. Since this stage includes anyone and everyone who has remotely heard of your business, this is a pretty wide bucket.
When you’ve got a bunch of leads in this bucket, there are two major actions that you have to take. First of all, you need to analyze the channel through which these people are getting to know your company. Is it Google search or social media? Depending on what’s working, you need to pump in more time, effort, and money to attract more people into this bucket. You need to ensure that this bucket is always filled with targets.
Secondly, you need to focus on getting these targets further on the sales funnel journey. To do so, you need to send out
communication and informational content to know if they’re interested to know more about your offering.
Stage 2: Interest
Your task at this stage is to figure out what these people seek. When a person shows interest in a brand or offering, they’re basically trying to find a solution to one of their pain points. If you’re able to pitch yourself as a solution to that pain point, your prospect would move ahead in the funnel journey.
At this stage, sharing information like your customer testimonials and data to support how your brand provides a certain solution could get your prospect closer to conversion.
Stage 3: Decision
At this stage, your customer has decided to purchase but they just want to make an informed and accurate decision. This is where you need to support them with all the required information about your offering.
This is a crucial phase for your business. The customer is high intent–they’re requesting you for quotes and questioning you about terms and conditions. So, you know they want to make the purchase. But they’ve not decided whether to go for you or for one of your competitors. They’re weighing in all of their options and looking for a solution that gives them the most benefit at the least price.
Here you offer instant purchase discounts or highlight your USPs that your competitors may not be able to offer.
Stage 4: Action
At this stage, your prospect has made the decision to become your customer and is ready to make a purchase. However, that does not mean your work is over. In fact, you need to be there to ensure that their purchase experience is smooth.
Not just that, you need to continuously nurture your relationship with the customer to ensure they stick with you. They need to feel valued and heard. Lest you’d lose the customer much faster than you got it.
That’s how your prospect moves through the sales funnel. Having said that, how does your action change with the progress of your prospect? That’s where the sales pipeline comes into the picture.
Sales Pipeline and its Stages
A sales pipeline has 6 stages:
- Prospecting: You find prospects and generate leads.
- Qualification: You qualify leads to filter out the ones who’re interested in your offering.
- Proposal: You make them an offer to become a paying customer.
- Negotiation: You deliberate with them to close the deal.
- Closing: You get them to make a purchase.
- Retention: You continue to provide support and value to retain them.
Bring it all together
Both sales funnel and sales pipeline have their own part to play in aiding your conversions. While one tracks your prospect’s actions, the other monitor your efforts. However, both of them are interlinked. Through prospecting, you get targets into the awareness stage. Then, you qualify them based on their interest in the brand. After that, you extend a proposal and negotiate on it in the decision stage. Finally, you close the deal and focus on retention when they’re in the action stage.
It all boils down to how well you’re able to communicate with them and handle them at each of the funnel stages–only that takes you closer to the conversions. All in all, you need to spend some time and set up your sales pipeline as well as a sales funnel to ensure that your efforts don’t go in vain.
While we’ve covered a crucial aspect of Sales here, there’s a lot more that goes into meeting those sales targets! To excel in sales and lead sales in 2021, here’s the ultimate sales guide that every sales manager should definitely read. Check it out>