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  • Writer's pictureTroy Vermillion

What is a Sales Funnel and How to Create an Effective One?



Most businesses now operate online. For effective sales, it is important to have an efficient sales and marketing strategy to help you attract and retain more customers. One of these strategies is a sales funnel. As a business owner, understanding the customer journey is important. A sales funnel helps you map out the journey a customer goes through when making any kind of purchase, and it helps you attract more prospects.


This allows the sales reps interact better with prospects and sustain customer retention. This post helps you understand the concept of a sales and how to create a sales funnel for your own business.

Ready? Let's dive in!


What is a Sales Funnel?


A sales funnel is a familiar marketing concept that allows you to optimize your online presence. It refers to the process and stages a prospect would go through to become your customer. The sales funnel stages represent the different checkpoints, your potential customers must go through before they make a purchase.


The term funnel is used because the stages of the sales typically look like a funnel. Usually, there is a large number of persons at the start of the sale process. However, just a few will end up buying and become customers.


There are several marketing efforts involved in each stage of the sales funnel. Sales funnels provide business insights that ensure that you invest in relevant marketing activities. Through sales funnels, businesses are able to optimize their sales and marketing efforts.


The sales funnel is designed to motivate your target audience to become customers. Effective sales funnels help to move people from one stage to another until they finally make a purchase.


Importance of a Sales funnel


For every sales process, there are certain limitations that may hinder a person from making a purchase. As a business owner, you wouldn't want to miss any sales. It is not enough to sell quality products or services. The sales performance is largely influenced by making a well-defined sales funnel.


The buying process has to be fully understood by the potential customers. Why is a sales funnel important? A successful sales funnel helps you to understand prospective customers. You will also learn from your success with existing customers.


You can then create a sales funnel that helps you understand what your prospective customers are thinking and searching for at each stage.


This will help sales reps develop an effective sales strategy to ensure that potential customers have a smooth ride until they make a purchase and become paying customers.


What are the Sales Funnel Stages?


For an effective marketing strategy, it is important to understand the different sales stages. To convert prospects into customers, you must know how the sales funnel works. Your sales funnel helps you understand the customer journey.


The various sales funnel stages include all the checkpoints from the first time a potential customer hears about your products or services (sales pitch) and all the way through to when they make a final purchase.


Each stage of the sales funnel narrows down as prospects move from one level to another. However, the sales funnel stages may differ depending on the company's sales model.


There are basically four main steps of the sales funnel stages:

  1. Awareness stage

  2. Interest stage

  3. Desire stage

  4. Action stage



1. Awareness stage


The awareness stage of the sales funnel is the first stage of the sales funnel. It is referred to as the awareness stage because this is the point where different persons become aware of your product or service. This might happen when they encounter your product or service through an advert or a Google search or learn about your brand from a friend or read a review on social media.


There are different ways you can attract more customers to your business. The business can reach its target audience through ads, either through a google search, Facebook ad, word of mouth, or other marketing efforts. Usually, it is more effective to run ads on sites and platforms where your target audience hangs out.


2. Interest Stage


During this stage, the prospect learns about the business or brand. They develop an interest in your product or service. During the interest stage, the prospect is actively searching for a solution to their problem and researching ways to achieve their goals.


During this stage, the prospect will carry out more google searches on the activities of your business and will conduct competitive research to know if your solution is the best and can solve their problem. You can use search engine optimization to reach them and provide useful information.


3. Desire Stage


When prospects conduct competitive research and are satisfied that your solution addresses their pain point, they will be interested to learn more about your brand and unique solution. They will also learn and compare your pricing options.


At this stage of the sales, certain marketing and sales efforts need to be put in place to turn the leads to qualified prospects. Setting up sales pages, webinars, and making calls is important to help the prospects make decisions.


4. Action Stage


This is the final stage of the campaign. When a prospect gets to this stage of the funnel, then the marketing has been successful. It's either the prospect makes a purchase or maybe not. At this stage, even if the potential customers don't buy, you can still nurture them to ensure they buy at a future time.


Also, you'll need to still engage with existing customers to ensure they keep returning. The work here is to nurture new leads through the sales cycle and retain customers in the sales pipeline.


How to Create an Effective Sales Funnel


To create an effective sales funnel that'll attract potential customers to your business and increase your sales, there are steps and processes to follow to ensure that you get it right. A successful sales funnel solidifies your sales process.

It also improves your customer retention rate and ensures you meet the needs of the target customers.


To market efficiently, get new leads and more prospects, and nurture paying customers, you need a sales funnel.

Here are the sales funnels:



1. Obtain Customer Data


Before you create your own sales funnel, it is important to obtain enough data to help you understand your customers. Understanding the customer journey is easier if you have enough data. If you run an online business, the data obtained from your website visitors will help you streamline your sales funnel process. It will ensure you pay careful attention to developing the sales process to meet the needs of your target customers.


Through the data obtained by analyzing your prospect's behavior, you can begin marketing using sales funnel software. Also, you can adjust your sales funnel to address the relevant selling points of the business and improve your products and services.


Data such as where your future customer is clicking, the length of time they spend on the landing page, and how they engage with your site are relevant for a great marketing funnel.


Need prospect data? Here are a few free options:









 

2. Engage Your Audience and Capture their Attention


One effective way that a sales funnel works is when it is able to capture the attention of prospects. Your business needs to have prospects interested in the business. This must be in place before creating a sales funnel.


There are different strategies to make this effective. You can put your content before your prospect through different channels. Set up strong lead magnet by posting content in different forms such as videos, social media posts, and infographics.


If you're selling B2B then you should learn effective ways of carrying out lead generation and consider using Linkedin video Ads. If you operate an online business, you can get organic traffic through SEO blog post, social media traffics like Facebook ad that leads to a landing page, referral traffics and so many others.


Need a design tool? Here is my favorite free option:





 

3. Set Up a Landing Page


Landing pages are like the reception office of your business on the internet. They are effective lead magnets. When prospects click on an ad, sign up for a webinar, or subscribe to a newsletter, they will be directed to your landing page. Landing pages should clearly state the solution your business offers, and how it can help the prospect.


Ensure that your landing pages have an opt-in form where prospects drop their information and sign up to receive any relevant email newsletter. This allows you to integrate user data into your marketing automation strategy. Build a comprehensive landing page as it is a sales strategy that will ensure constant communication and steer the prospect towards making a purchase.


Adding a call to action (CTA) to the landing page is also an effective marketing strategy that tells your prospect what to do next and lead them to the next step of the sales funnel. On the landing page you could ask them to sign up to a newsletter or download a free eBook or click on a link to a blog to get more information on a particular product or service.


Need a landing page builder? Here are a couple of free options:





 

4. Create an Email Drip Campaign


An email campaign is an effective way to marketing your products and services and ensure customer retention. You will need to communicate to the lead generated through the landing pages. The sales team can come up with effective and valuable content.


All these feed into your marketing automation strategy. This includes consistent emails going out to your prospects, maybe once a week, educating them about your products. Talk about their challenges and how you can address them. Start with sending informative content to build up the trust of your target audience. At the end of the campaign ensure to make an offer that will drive them to take action and make a purchase.


Need a email drip marketing software? Here are a couple of free options:





 

5. Maintain Consistent Communication


If you're successful at converting your prospects into paying customers, don't stop communicating with them. A sales call once in a while informing them of a new product or a discount sale on one of your services is a good way to keep them engaged.


Engage outside the normal sales conversations. Include them in your social media campaigns. That way, you can create a community of loyal customers and build a trusted brand.


Need a fully automated communication platform? Here are a few free to try options:






 

How can you provide content for each Sales Funnel stage?


An effective marketing strategy is required to close more sales. A major way to improve the sales funnel process and make the sales effort yield more is to create a content strategy. When marketers and sales reps are able to create content that aligns with the different sales funnel stages, they will be able to attract more customers and make more sales.


To cover more deals and generate more leads, you will have to develop a content strategy for each stage of the sales funnel. By doing this, you will make the customer journey smooth and attract more leads.


Below are different content strategies that you can use in different stages of the funnel.


1. Blogging


This is an effective content strategy that will help you in the initial stages of your sales efforts. Through effective blogging, you will get your business to the target audience. Blogging is an effective way to create awareness and generate interest in your product or service.


Blogging is one effective lead magnet for your business. By using the right keywords your blog will reach the area where your target audience hangs or forums where they interact. Also by optimizing your blog with the right keyword you will get better search results and you will get customers into the sales funnel. With relevant posts, you will easily grip visitors to your websites and turn them into paying customers.


Also, blogging is not enough, you must learn to promote your blog post on different social media channels and target the places where your target audience hangs out and spend much of their time on the internet. It can be open groups and forums or Twitter threads or discord groups. Provide relevant tips and information and avoid spamming at all costs.


However, a blog alone will not assist you to convert leads to paying customers. You will need to create other forms of strategy to help you make sales and convert potential customers to paying customers.



2. Develop Effective Lead Magnets


This is an effective way to develop an interest in your business. There are certain strategies used to develop an effective lead magnet that will generate interest in your product or service.


Using a lead magnet is very useful in developing interest. You should make use of anything that can help your prospects through their journey and help them develop an interest in what your business is all about.


You can include an e-book or a guide or maybe a course to help educate your audience while collecting and creating an email list. At this stage, you should be concerned with providing information or any material that can be useful to your prospects and providing them with solutions to certain pain points not being addressed by your competitors.


Attach a call to action asking prospects to check your products or services.



3. Create Webinars


Webinars are convincing ways to turn your prospects into paying customers. The decision and action stage would require a lot of information to help the clients make informed decisions.


Through webinars, you'll be able to convince the prospects to buy from you. The webinar is done mainly to entice your prospects and close a deal.


The webinar should be short, value-packed, and straight to the point. Once prospects sign to your webinar, it indicates that they are already interested in what your business is offering. They will only just need a little convincing to help them make up their mind.


Don't forget to add a call to action inviting them to buy your product, or get a free consultation.



4. Create Informative Videos


People enjoy watching videos. Through creative short videos, you can make the awareness stage better and also get people interested in your product or service. Create an exciting video that will move prospects to make decisions and buy from you.


Create an explainer video for your business. This will help create interest and build demand for your business. The use of videos in the decision and action stage of the sale funnel has been shown to produce positive results as well.


Like blogs, a YouTube channel is an effective place to post your videos. Therefore you should optimize your video for certain keywords to increase the amount of traffics that can come to your channel. You will also get to create awareness by using social media to distribute the links to your Youtube channel in forums or groups where your target audience hangs.


If you sell products, you can create videos that will help your customers understand your products and this will increase your customer retention rate.


Optimizing Your Sales Funnel


Creating the sales funnel is one thing and optimizing it so as to reach a wider audience, attract customers, generate leads, and convert to sales is another thing.


You will need to create a sales funnel that will help you attract customers and ensure they buy from you. To do this effectively, you'll need to optimize your sales funnel.


The different sales funnel stages all have different ways that they can be optimized.


Ways to Optimize your Sales Funnel Stages


At every stage of the different sales funnel stages, certain factors determine if the prospect will move to the next stage or not. To have a fully optimized sales funnel it is important that you are focused on the different parts of the sales funnel stages that determine if the consumer moves to the next stage or not.


Without optimizing your sales funnel, you will be guessing the different routes your customers will follow. Your guess may be wrong and your prospects will end up buying from your customers.


So there are different key areas where you can optimize your sales funnel that will guarantee a smooth customer journey and drive better conversion.


Add Useful Content to the Top of the Funnel


This stage of the sale funnel should be filled with useful content that will attract customers and help you create awareness about the existence of your brand of business.


Your content should drive engagement and encourage them to want to know more about your offer.


Know what is working, know where and how they engage with your site, know where they are clicking, and enquire to know if they have any challenges or if any of the processes confuses them.


Use Persuasive Landing Pages


The landing page should be carefully designed and contain valuable information about the business. Make sure that the Call-to-action is strategically placed to ensure that the prospects don’t miss it and are willing to click on them.


Every detail on the landing page must be relevant. The landing page should be linked to your blog and other different social media sites. Use a very persuasive headline, and exciting copy and the CTA should be attractive enough to lead the customer to the next stage of the funnel.


Make an Amazing Offer


For a highly optimized sales funnel, it is important to analyze what kind of offer works best for your prospects and figure out a way to make it better.


You'd need to know if people are moved to buy your product with the promise of a free shipping or they bought better when you provided a discount.


By knowing what works, you'll then use it more and this will increase your revenue and also increase the number of deals you can close.


Track Retention Rate


It is important to track your customer retention rate. You'll need to know how many persons are coming back, how many is buying from you, what's the interaction with the brand and how do they engage with you on social media?


You'll need social proof to keep bringing the right people to your business.


Conclusion


Setting up a sales funnel is not enough. It is important that you carry out a test of the sales funnel and measure the results .


It is important that you provide content that will help your customers move from different stages to another. Constantly optimize your sales funnel content to sell the main message of your brand.


Gather data and analyze results to know what is working and then improve on what is working and what is not to make it better.


To build a thriving business, you must have a good flow of prospects from the top stage of the funnel all through the different stages until they buy from you.




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