The key to any successful business is generating a consistent stream of leads and converting those leads into sales.
However, many businesses don’t know which stage of the sales funnel their lead falls into and what they should do next.
In this blog post, we’ll help you gain a deeper insight into the sales funnel and discover the four stages that make up this process so they can be used effectively by marketers and business owners alike.
What is a Sales Funnel?
The sales funnel has been around for a long time, and it is one of the most important concepts in marketing that even traditional businesses use to attract more customers and gain more sales.
It uses an analogy to illustrate how the customer journey begins at the top of the funnel, but only a fraction of those opportunities actually make it through to the bottom of the funnel.
Sales funnel management, or simply known as the ‘sales funnel,’ is the process that sales and marketing teams use to identify the right market segment and then progress to pitch their value proposition through different channels.
The sales funnel generally consists of four stages, often referred to as AIDA (Attention -> Interest -> Desire -> Action)
Each of these stages has its metrics for success where more and more prospects have a higher likelihood in the conversion process.
Why is a Sales Funnel Important?
Have you ever thought about why a sales prospect might leave your website or your business instead of making a purchase?
The sales funnel helps understand customer behavior and how they progress through the buying process, enabling you to discover the holes in the funnel or the part that caused the prospects to drop and never convert. If you know what is happening in these areas, then it will be easier to fix them!
Moreover, the sales funnel is also an essential component of your sales process as it defines the stages that potential customers go through before they become paying customers.
A funnel helps you capture leads and convert them into more qualified leads and finally turn them into revenue-generating clients that help you grow sales.
So, no matter what your business is, whether that’s brick and mortar or in the digital space, you need a way of systematically bringing people through your sales process.
Sales funnels are a proven, tested way of doing this – and help you work smarter, not harder!
Understanding the Sales Funnel Stages
A sales funnel is a marketing and sales framework that helps you convert prospects from one stage to another.
The sales funnel’s entry point is where all potential customers start their journey down the funnel, whether on your website or by an advertisement. From there, they move through various conversion points before reaching one of two possible exits – success or failure.
We can’t tell you exactly how many visitors you will need to turn into a lead, but we do know that the higher your conversion rate is on each step in the funnel, the more successful your business will be.
For example, if you have 16,982 visitors to your website and 3,604 of them take the desired action and become leads, then your visitor to lead conversion rate is 21%. As a result, you can generate more revenue for your business without spending any more money on traffic by simply improving the conversion rate.
Your goal with these stages is to get as many visitors through your funnel as possible so you can then convert them into leads and ultimately customers later down the sales pipeline.
Each phase has a specific goal that needs to be reached before moving on to the next stage. Let’s have a look at each one of the stages and understand their objective.
Top of the Sales Funnel (Attention)
At the top of the funnel is the attention stage. This stage of the sales funnel focuses on getting people’s attention and making them aware that you exist. The goal here isn’t to make a sale but instead generate interest in your product or service.
A person has an attention span of eight seconds. That means that you have a small window of opportunity to grab a person’s attention before they will move onto something else.
The attention stage is considered one of the most crucial sales funnel stages as you’re trying to reach a prospect who just identified a problem and sought a solution.
In the attention phase your goal is to attract customers with the help of your marketing team and focus on generating interest, and meeting new people through as many marketing channels as possible such as social media ads, online advertisements, or YouTube videos.
However, people are different, and what might work for one person may not be the best solution to attract another person.
For this reason, it’s essential to know who your ideal customer is before you start trying any marketing efforts. You should research what websites they visit, which podcasts they listen to, and what blogs they read. This research will help you better understand exactly what information they consume and consider valuable.
At the same time, the attention stage is also where you may want to build awareness of your brand and make a name for yourself.
By posting on social media, blogging about topics that matter to your ideal buyer persona or using search engine optimization strategies, you can increase your visibility and bring more traffic to your website.
You may want to reach out to bloggers who cover topics related to yours or contact places like Huffington Post for guest posting opportunities. This will help you get the word out about what you’re offering without having a sales pitch come across as too pushy.
Middle of the Sales Funnel (Interest, Consideration & Evaluation)
Next, depending on how good your sales team is, the people in your funnel will progress from the top of funnel attention stage to the interest stage.
Would you believe that instead of chasing after people, it is possible to have qualified leads flocking to you?
The more you educate your audience about the value of what you offer and how you can help them, the more they likely are to be interested in doing business with you and become qualified prospects.
Potential customers will start looking for you and actively seek out information on how your company can help them solve their problems.
This is why it’s equally important to market to people who are already aware of what you have to offer but may not be ready to make a purchasing decision.
You have to pitch your products and services in a way that address any pain points immediately or at least offer solutions on how you can eventually help solve those problems.
It’s a competitive world out there, and it can be hard to break through all the noise. But if you educate your prospects about your product or service, you are one step closer to making a sale! Companies nurture leads on a regular basis get 50% more sales-qualified leads.
Prospects will gather information from your product and service sales pages on your website. You will want to make sure that these pages highlight your product/service “fit” with the prospect’s needs.
They will be looking to see examples of how you have solved similar challenges for other people like them or have had a similar challenge in the past.
Sales professionals can help by providing testimonials or case studies from other customers who have experienced success with the product or service.
Bottom of the Sales Funnel (Desire & Action)
At this stage of the sales pipeline, you need to convert a prospect’s “interest” into a “desire.” You’ll know you’ve achieved this stage when the prospect goes from telling you “tell me more” to “I want this.” By nurturing the prospect through the interest stage, you can build up a desire in the prospect’s mind. In your nurturing efforts, you can begin to future-pace. Future pacing means that you are speaking to the prospect in a way that paints a picture of what life would be life if they purchased from you.
You want them thinking, “What would it be like if things were different? What could I do differently?” Future pacing will trigger emotions such as excitement or hopefulness when prospects start dreaming about how your product or service will help them turn their dreams into reality. 95% of purchase decisions are based emotion, so make sure you’re speaking to the prospect in a way that will trigger an emotional response.
At the same time, you want to be careful not to go so far as getting prospects hyped up without a clear course of action or end goal in sight. They may start feeling overwhelmed and unsure about what to do next.
Remember, this is the last chance for your sales reps to convince your prospect that your product or service has what it takes to solve their existing problems. Do your best and lead potential customers into the next phase of the sales funnel, the action stage.
The bottom of the funnel is where the potential customer finally converts into a paying customer and becomes a part of your business’s ecosystem.
You will want this stage to be easy for them and provide step-by-step instructions on how they can contact you if any problems arise with their purchase.
It’s safe to say that there are additional stages to your sales funnel as the interaction between you and your customer progresses. The buyer’s journey doesn’t end at this point, as you still need to deliver on the promises you made during your sales process to maximize customer retention and customer lifetime value.
The action stage is only the beginning of what can lead to a fruitful relationship.
Once you’ve converted your prospect, the goal is to provide a high level of customer satisfaction, leading them to find and refer other customers to you.
Sales Funnel Examples
Let’s say that you are a proud owner of an eCommerce store that sells gadgets and other types of technologies.
After long research and observation, you discovered that most of your target audience is male and female with ages between 25 to 45 years old who spend most of their time on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
This is why you placed engaging Facebook Ads that drove traffic to your landing page.
From here, you asked your visitors if they would like to join your list and receive a lead magnet in return for sharing their information with you.
Now, your so-called “prospects” turned to “new leads” and will continue to move through your sales funnel.
Over the next few weeks, you started sending email campaigns to your subscribers, informing them about the latest gadget in the market, its features, and how cost-efficient it is to buy from you.
As an incentive, you offered discount vouchers and more deals for each customer’s first order. And guess what? You sold every single one! Everyone wants what you’re selling now as they know all the fantastic offers you can give them.
But instead of becoming highly satisfied with the result, you take all of those wonderful customers who made a purchase and circling them around again with new content so that they could come back for more!
Next, you craft a new email with those same customers and start the process over from the beginning. But this time, you are offering them new content for another new gadget – creating an endless cycle of customer satisfaction!
There you have it!
a) Attention: You know who your target market is and discovered places they hang out the most, which in this case, was Facebook.
b) Interest: You offer them something valuable in exchange for lead capture.
c) Desire: Your email that has content and other information about your product made them decide whether it is worth it to purchase from your store or not.
d) Action: You offered discount vouchers to please your new potential customers and begin to market them again after they purchase!
But the sales funnel isn’t just for eCommerce or online businesses. If you’re a brick-and-mortar store with a physical location, the entry point might be when someone walks in the front door to find out more about what you offer – whether that’s on promotional materials or the products themselves.
This is your first sales opportunity. It will help if you have a friendly customer service representative available to answer questions or provide a guided tour of what’s in store for them.
The second chance comes in when they’re ready to buy something and ask if “There are staff members that can process payments?” or “Is shipping quick?” Once satisfied, they’ll be one of those who move down to the sales funnel.
These are just a few examples to show how the sales funnel works! It’s a long-term sales process that takes time, patience, and skills on your team. But if done correctly, the results are worth all of those things!
The Value of a Sales Funnel
A well-defined sales funnel management process is a powerful marketing tool that can drive increased product and service sales and organize every consideration when designing marketing activities and advertising campaigns.
What can help you get a better standing among your competitors is to have a solid understanding of your customer’s journey and learn the best way to communicate with new customers. Thus, the different stages in the sales funnel will help you create a successful marketing strategy.
By understanding these stages and what you can do to generate leads or increase conversions—you and your sales team will create better digital marketing strategies that will lead more people through your sales process.
Now that you understand the basics of sales funnel stages, it’s time to get started on your own sales funnel!
If you need help with your online marketing, we can provide you with all the tools necessary for success! Schedule a Strategy Session with us today for personalized attention from one of our experts!