Guiding a customer along the path to a sale takes more than luck, it requires a sales and marketing strategy. To generate leads and revenue, it is necessary to educate a potential customer to make qualified purchasing decisions. A successful strategy will provide you with a clear path to take a prospect through your sales process with a high rate of success.
That's where the sales funnel concept comes in.
A sales funnel (often mistakingly called a clickfunnel) provides a relationship-focused model for turning prospects into customers. Presented in stages, it is the framework for a successful buyer's journey. Here's how to set your sales funnel stages to grow your revenue fast.
The stages of a sales funnel
The sales funnel refers to the visual representation of the journey a buyer takes from first becoming aware of a product or service through taking action and buying. While the individual steps may vary depending on the business, the stages remain the same. Once you have defined your brand, created a buyer persona, and identified your target audience, you are ready to start building your funnel.
The awareness stage
Making your target audience aware of your business is the first step to landing a sale. The goal of the awareness stage is to improve the visibility of your brand and start collecting leads. At this point, the customer is looking for a solution to a problem. Your job as a company will ultimately be to show them how you can solve that problem, but first, they need to know that you exist.
Strategies for building brand awareness include:
- Sponsored social media ads
- SEO content
- Blog posts
- Online video marketing
Content at this stage should be informative, but interesting and creative enough to entice the customer to engage with your brand. Signing up for a newsletter or watching a video is the kind of action you want potential clients to take. While it is perfectly fine to cast a wide net, you should research what social sites your target audience frequents and focus your efforts there.
Potential customers will complete the majority of their research online, it is the savvy marketing team that ensures that they are producing content for the awareness stage of a sales funnel. Blogging is a very popular and effective method for attracting prospects at the awareness stage. We have seen great successes in organic traffic growth using the topic cluster method with our own blogs.
Leads generated in your sales funnel at this early stage may need a bit of time to learn more about the solutions to their problems. It's important to remember that the buying process is not always a short process, some leads will need long term nurturing to progress them through to the end of your sales funnel. What you will see over time is that the leads generated at this early stage have a very good chance of progressing into an opportunity if they move through to the next stage of your funnel.
People have to be ready to hear about what you're selling before they will entertain the idea of buying it. Once you have made leads aware of their problems and of your brand, they are ready to enter the consideration phase. The key here is to gauge the situation so that you are targeting the right people at the right time. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and money.
To keep interest high enough to where prospects will start asking questions, it is important to work on building relationships with them. Information and communication are the best ways to nurture prospective clients and answer their questions.
Effective ways to accomplish this include:
- Email campaigns
- Blog posts
- Facts pages
- Comparison pages
- Social media posts
Tracking visitors' engagement with your communication helps you to better understand the challenges consumers are facing as well as the solutions they are looking for. Responding to their concerns makes you the expert. They may not yet be ready to make a purchase, but when they are, you have established yourself as a trusted resource. Planning for this stage of your sales funnel will entail you gaining an understanding of the questions that your prospects would normally ask of your sales team.
Regular meetings between your sales and marketing departments will provide you with this insight direct from the coal face. In fact, these two teams should collaborate on every stage of the sales process. A good sales rep is in the prime position to know what is troubling your prospects, whilst marketing is able to create specific content, either as part of your FAQ page or as a form of downloadable content, such as an infographic, that offers you the opportunity to capture more information about the prospect.
Read: Practical Ways Sales and Marketing Teams Should Work Together
As leads become familiar with how your brand can solve their issues, you have the opportunity to drive them toward buying your product or service. Providing incentives at this stage such as special offers, bundled packages, and follow-up advice can help seal the deal. The decision phase is more than just about you making a sale, however, it's about gaining a loyal following. You want to make it clear that you are there for your customers when they need you again.
For SaaS companies, in particular, providing an offer at this stage of their sales funnels is particularly effective. Free trials and demonstrations are highly effective at the bottom of the funnel. As part of the sales process offering prospects the opportunity to get hands-on with your product or service. This experience can be the game-changer between winning the sales or a prospect going elsewhere.
Creating an effective sales funnel
An effective sales funnel removes the guesswork, increases go-to-market speed, and instantly begins generating leads and revenue.
To create your funnel follow these 5 steps:
- 1. Research and understand your audience. What are the pain points prospective customers are experiencing?
- 2. Create a few buyer personas. Not all customers are the same; focus on what motivates purchases for those who might benefit from your product.
- 3. Develop a strategy for increasing traffic to your website and generating leads. Use social media and influencer marketing to get your message across.
- 4. Come up with ways to engage your audience. Create content that includes a call to action for more information or to sign up for an email.
- 5. Convert your leads into paying customers.
When you launch a sales funnel for your SaaS business, don't make the typical mistake of constructing it for awareness first. Start at the bottom and focus on what it takes to bring the lead to a purchasing decision. From there, work backwards to determine the best way to create awareness for those who will ultimately take action. We do this with every sales funnel that we build for one simple reason:
Focusing on the decision stage of the buyer's journey first will help you to quickly generate essential revenue and boost your available resources.
If you want to ensure that your time is spent building up your revenue and achieving a lower cost per acquisition, then this approach is perfect. Once you have built an effective decision stage to your sales funnel that is generating leads that convert into paying customers, you will have a solid platform to start layering your awareness and consideration activities upon.
Inbound marketing best practice recommends that your buyer’s journey transitions into a well crafted after-sales strategy that offers sales rep support, retargeting emails and adverts to enhance the buyer’s experience with up-sells and complementary products, continuing to delight and engage them.
Successfully operating a sales funnel
A successful sales funnel will help you identify the right buyer early and make buying your product a happy experience. It will generate leads by addressing consumers' needs and answering their questions. It will help you tap into audiences who are ready to spend but have not been approached in the right way. Maintaining your funnel over time and enhancing its effectiveness will also ensure that you are constantly fine-tuning your sales process. But it all stems from launching your sales funnel with the right research, validation and testing of your message and maintaining close control over your ads in the early stages of launch.
Our SaaS sales funnel service will do just that for you. We are experts in conducting the research of your market, your competitors and the pain points that lead to decision level prospects arriving in your inbox daily. If you want to start generating leads at the start of your new marketing campaigns instead of months down the line, then we can help you.