Set of phases and triggers, the sales funnel is a representation of the path a potential customer goes through. It is divided into three stages — top, middle and bottom of the funnel — and plays an important role in the company's decision making in relation to strategic planning.
The sales funnel is present in the most diverse companies that aim to sell a service or product, therefore, it is a necessary strategy for their development and growth in the market.
Check out more about what it is and how to define one for your business!
Attention: in this post we will deal with the traditional view of a funnel, but already recognizing that today the increasingly common behavior is that of a path from point A to point B. What we find along this path has been called “ kind of confusing” as consumer behavior has been less and less linear! But since many companies do not even envision the concept of a funnel, we will focus on this format, ok?
Also known as a pipeline, the sales funnel is a set of strategies that shows the customer journey and aims to support a persona's purchase journey , from the beginning of the contact between the company and the customer to the closing of a sale.
For this strategy to really work, it is necessary to unite marketing and sales in a realistic structure for the purchase journey of the future lead and its passage through the funnel to start sales.
A funnel is represented as follows:
- At the top, visitors;
- In the middle, leads;
- In the background, opportunities and sales.
At the top of the funnel, your role is to educate your website, blog or social media visitors . People realize that they have a problem or need that was previously unknown, but they still don't know for sure how to solve it.
At this point, you can offer content that explains and gives the first paths to solving these problems. Rich content, such as spreadsheets and infographics, are a great way to provide better-crafted and in-depth information, which can be accessed by filling out a form.
With data such as name, email, profession, age, etc., the visitor now becomes a lead and begins to advance in the sales funnel.
While at the top of the funnel the visitor discovers he has a problem to be solved, in the middle of the funnel he seeks to solve them — even if he doesn't know exactly how to do it . Its role as a company is to help you with tips, techniques and other relevant information.
Avoid selling a solution at any cost. Here, you are still far from that and have the purpose of maturing and qualifying the lead, taking them one more step in the sales funnel. It is at this point that he begins to decide to buy.
This can be done by continuously producing content for blog posts, educational emails, rich materials and even online events (lives, webinars, etc.).
At this stage, qualified leads turn into opportunities as they are ready to be approached by the sales team . Knowing their problems and how to solve them, they now need the solution that you and your business have to offer.
The trust generated between you and the lead in the two previous phases makes your company a reference on the subject and, therefore, someone with whom you can do business. Here you show yourself as a “perfect solution” for your lead, with advantages and benefits for their needs.
Thus, the sales funnel “comes to an end” when leads — here, prospects — make a purchase and become customers.
From now on, it is necessary to analyze all the data acquired during the execution of the Inbound Marketing strategies to feed the funnel and, mainly, to retain your customer.
Loyalty comes through other content and offers that may interest you , showing that you are still there for the needs that the customer may have.
Although the concept of both can be confused, it is necessary to understand that the sales funnel is much more about how you will produce content to meet the persona and lead them to an action , while the purchase journey is how you understands this persona in the step by step to a sale.
The buying journey consists of four phases:
- Learning and Discovery;
- Problem recognition;
- Solution consideration;
- Buying decision.
Understanding this journey is necessary to understand the concept of a sales funnel, after all, one is linked to the other.
Building a sales funnel for your business needs to follow a few steps.
The main objective is to discover the needs, behaviors and levels of contact and interaction of your leads.
With the use of social networks, blogs and websites, it is possible to gather this information and understand how each of these paths can help move people through the sales funnel, towards the bottom.
With the journey mapping done, we need to define the milestones that will define the stage turns within the funnel. When does your lead discover that they need a solution to the problem? When and how does it get to the recognition stage? How will you ensure it reaches this and other stages?
Having the answers to questions like these, we will have the purchase journey milestones at hand.
The sales funnel stages are intended to support the purchase journey, providing the necessary value that the potential customer needs to achieve to move forward. In general, the Inbound Sales funnel is divided into four stages:
With the sales funnel in hand, we moved on to the plan on how to get the team to follow the procedure for converting new customers. To have better success with this stage, one can break it down into optimization and scale.
Optimization depends on activity performance indicators and conversion rates between steps. With this, it is possible to determine the level of activities necessary, such as efficiency, reviews and even new training, to reach the goals set and make the process scalable.
The sales funnel scale seeks to make people able to carry out the necessary and planned activities for the process. The means of learning and preparation can be through the construction of playbooks, trainings and certifications.
If your business needs help creating effective content marketing strategies for your sales funnel, please contact us. We are a digital agency specialized in Inbound Marketing.