What is a sales funnel?

14 July 2020
Sam Pettiford
Sam Pettiford

You may have heard the term ‘sales funnel’ banded around quite a lot these days and for good reason. Essentially, if you haven’t got one in place it’ll be very hard to convert your website visitors into paying customers.

Your primary goal with your sales funnel is to move customers through your sales process until they are ready to purchase your product or service.

What is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is a marketing concept that maps out the journey a customer goes through when making any kind of purchase.

As a potential customer passes through each stage of the funnel, they gain a better understanding, become more committed and generate a deeper commitment to the purchase.

Sales Funnel Stages
Most business sales processes revolve around awareness, interest, decision and finally action. The journey might differ from one prospect to the next depending on your buying personas, your niche and your actual products

  • Awareness - At this stage, the potential customer learns about your product or service and is likely considering how their problem may be solved by your solution. This is achieved by your website, a blog or a social media post etc.

  • Interest - The potential customer expresses some interest in your product or service by filling out a contact form, following you on social media and/or subscribes to your newsletter.

  • Decision - The potential customer wants to find out significantly more about your product/service than they can by reading something online. They want to know specifically how your solution can help them. The process around this is largely where the customer is won or lost as the subject of price is often discussed at a broad level. Common decision mediums include calls, meetings, proposals and/or site visit and product demonstrations.

  • Action - At this stage, the client (which is what they will be called by then) has decided on your product/service and is committed to signing a contract, clicking the purchase button or paying an invoice etc.

There may be a multitude of other stages depending on your company, which involve upselling, retention and referral processes, but these are the most common.

Creating your Sales Funnel
Begin with research. Gather intelligence and understand your customers. The more data you glean from your customers the better you can adjust your funnel to focus on the most relevant selling points.

Create Buyer Personas
Buyer personas help ensure that all activities involved in acquiring and serving your customers are tailored to the targeted buyer’s needs. This exercise will not only help you understand your customers demographic and interests, but also the platforms and services that they use the most.

You wont be able to have the same sales funnel for all your customers because they will have different reasons for buying or using your product, so It’s a good idea to create different personas for each one and then different sales funnels that match their experience.

You need to understand your audience like you do your very own yourself. You are aware of your dislikes and likes, you know what problems you face and you know the sort of people you will let help with those problems. If you learn to know your audience in the same manner, the chances of you establishing a genuine connection increase

The main choices here will either be paid such as social media advertising in or PPC (pay per click) or free (organic) traffic - of course, nothing in the world is free as the curation of organic content on various platforms will likely cost someone’s time and salary.

Paid traffic is the easiest way to bring traffic to your website. You pay for an ad and as soon as someone clicks on it, you will have a visitor to your website. The disadvantage of paid traffic is that as soon as you stop paying, your traffic will stop and you won’t get any new leads. You can use the following advertising platforms;

  • Facebook/Instagram

  • Twitter

  • LinkedIn

  • Google Ads (PPC)

  • Affiliate Marketing

As we said before, nothing is free and you may also need to spend money on a suite of online tools to make your organic traffic campaigns work well. The most common free traffic sources are as follows;

  • SEO

  • Referrals/Backlinking

  • Social Media posting

When you start receiving traffic to your site, the real hard work begins. You will need to constantly engage your leads, educate them on topics they are interested in and help them to move down your sales funnel to a purchase.

It’s important to measure your results once everything is set up via KPI’s. You need to gather data and improve your funnel if you want to get better results. A good flow of people right from the top, all the way to the action stage will ensure you have a healthy business and a good sales process.

Photo by rupixen on Unsplash

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