When talking about digital marketing and sales, it is very likely that you have already found this term in some place or blog. But after all, what is a sales funnel? Today we will help you understand all about it and find out how it works.
It is a key part of the Inbound Marketing methodology, and has proven to be very effective in increasing sales and creating a virtuous circle, in which more customers are attracted and stay longer with the company. But many companies still don’t understand exactly what this funnel is, let alone how to create and implement one in the right way.
If you still don’t know how the funnel works or why it is important to your company’s growth, this can be a problem. The good news is that this problem is about to be resolved. See now what you need to know to attract, retain and retain customers using the sales funnel in your own business!
What is a sales funnel?
Every customer goes through what we call the purchase journey, a process that begins when he starts his search to solve a problem until the moment he gets to buy the most suitable solution.
The sales funnel is the best way to guide potential customers through each step of the journey and build a relationship with them before offering a product or service.
In other words, the sales funnel is the best way to “prepare the ground” to guarantee the sale. But, why the idea of a funnel? What is a sales funnel?
Essentially, because actions at the top of the funnel typically take a more comprehensive approach, while actions at the bottom of the funnel are more focused on each consumer.
A sales funnel can be divided into 3 parts: top of the funnel (ToFu), middle of the funnel (MoFu) and bottom of the funnel (BoFu), each with a clear purpose.
The top aims to attract the initial interest of the public, the medium must use that interest to create a closer relationship, and the bottom uses this relationship to take the person to action, that is, to purchase.
Read too: 20 Practices to Provide Good Customer Service
Know each step of the funnel
We know that the basic explanation above is not enough for you to fully understand what a sales funnel is, so let’s dive into each of its steps and functions.
So, see how each step of the funnel works, and what your role is in the sales process:
Top of the funnel (ToFu): learning and discovery
The top of the sales funnel is where it all starts, that is, where your prospects and target audience first enter and start their buying journey in your business.
The idea is to help the persona know the basics about the subject and help them better understand what they need to solve. Therefore, it is important to use introductory and more didactic content at the top of the funnel.
To exemplify, some of the actions used at the top of the funnel include: * Articles that aim to educate the market on your blog; * Content aimed at helping consumers to identify and recognize that they have a problem; * Paid ads targeted on social networks or Google Ads itself;
In general, at this moment the customer does not yet know that he has a problem or challenge and that there are solutions (offered by his company) so that he can solve it.
Middle of the funnel (MoFu): consideration and intention
After teaching the persona the basics, they will understand what the problem is, but they will still need help to find the best solution for it.
That’s where the next step in the sales funnel begins. This is the stage in which your lead becomes a MQL – we will explain more soon – and you will start to consider the different possibilities that exist to solve your problem and start showing intention to buy.
This may not yet be the time to present your product, but rather to help it through deeper and truly complete materials, such as e-books and webinars.
This type of content is perfect because it allows you to generate leads and nurture their interest until they finally reach the bottom of the funnel.
Even so, the idea is to make the lead recognize that you work with solutions, but the approach is still not exclusively focused on making sales.
Funnel bottom: evaluation and purchase
Finally, after nurturing the interest of the leads and convincing them that the type of solution you sell is the best for them, it remains to show that your company is better than the competitors.
In addition to offering content aimed at the differentials of your product, such as customer testimonials, case studies and favorable analyzes from specialists, it is important to count on the help of the sales team.
When a lead is qualified for the bottom of the funnel, it means that it is ready to buy. This lead is classified as SQL, which we’ll explain later. So, your salespeople need to be quick to contact and close the sale.
As a rule of thumb, adopt an 80/20 ratio for the sales funnel: 80% of content production should be concentrated at the top, with the other 20% divided between middle and bottom.
Qualifying your leads with the sales funnel
One of the main roles of the sales funnel is also to help you classify and qualify potential customers in your business, from the moment they stop being visitors and become leads for the company. This can be done in different ways so that you can really understand what the sales funnel is, we will present the main ones, check it out.
Ranking your consumers
First, it is important to assimilate the stages of the funnel with the classification of the consumer in your business. For this, consider that in the top of the funnel its consumers are called visitors or prospects and, in order to continue advancing their buying journey, they must be converted into leads.
Leads they are all those prospects who took an action or showed interest in your products or services and, therefore, were registered in your database. To exemplify, landing pages, registration forms, newsletters and certainly their service channels such as online chat are strategies to convert visitors into leads.
Segment your lead base and use strategies such as remarketing or email marketing campaigns to feed them and bring them back to your page if they have not yet been converted into customers – that is, those who have made a purchase.
Now, in order to qualify leads in your sales funnel, it is important that you know about lead scoring. Essentially, lead scoring is a technique of scoring leads registered in your base, in order to identify who are the qualified leads for marketing or for sale.
This score is defined according to the profile of each lead in relation to the persona created for your company. To check out everything about Lead Scoring, we recommend this content.
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
As we mentioned earlier, in the middle of the funnel is where you will be taking actions to convert your visitors and leads to become qualified leads for marketing (MQL).
These leads already recognize the problem and know that they need a solution, but are not yet ready to make the purchase decision. This can occur for several reasons, such as lack of budget, etc.
In order to convert MQL into qualified leads for sales, it will be necessary to employ strategies and actions that do not allow you to forget about your brand, such as remarketing, social media publications, etc.
Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)
Sales qualified leads (SQL) are those that are at the right time to complete the purchase. Therefore, this is the time to put in place sales strategies that aim to increase consumer assertiveness.
The consumer knows that he can find alternatives in his competitors with just a few clicks, so invest in tools and differentials that add value to the customer’s purchase, such as loyalty programs, special discounts, cross sell strategies and of course, through excellent service .
How to build your sales funnel
Knowing the definition of each of its stages and how to classify leads within this strategic model, the next step is to adapt it according to your own business, taking into account the prospecting, marketing and sales process. This is done through two main steps that involve substeps, which are: mapping the customer journey and defining the steps and triggers (also known as milestones).
Map the customer journey
The first step in creating a sales funnel is to map the entire customer journey. The best way to do this is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes.
Try to understand what is the entire path that a consumer takes from the first viewing of an ad or result through an organic search until the last moment when the consumer closes his purchase.
Also consider what are the key points of the journey, which requires more direct attention for the prospect to advance to the next stage. From this, you will have an overview of which processes in your business are part of the top, middle and bottom of the sales funnel.
Define milestones and milestones
Now that you have the scope based on the reality of your own business, it is time to define which are the triggers (milestones) that represent the transition of a client from one stage to the next, as well as which are the steps and actions that are the consumer and his own business must take to make that happen.
These steps can be really detailed and even involve employees in your business, such as:
- Shoot email marketing;
- Contact prospect by phone;
- Send budget;
- Charge consumer return on budget;
- Upsell the chosen product;
- Confirm delivery time and freight;
- Complete order;
- Contact after delivery and request NPS (Net Promoter Score) assessment;
From this, you have access to a diagram that represents the steps of the customer’s journey and it is much easier to know which are the milestones that advance them on the way to the sale.
Well-defined milestones and steps serve not only to structure your sales process, but also to help forecast results. With this granulation of data, it is also possible to identify which are the points where customers normally withdraw from the purchase, such as on the product page, after inserting items in the shopping cart, on the shipping confirmation page, etc.
Tools to build your funnel
Of course, doing all of this in a spreadsheet or just through Google Analytics may not be as practical. Therefore, today there are several tools that can help you build, monitor and manage your funnel, as well as your sales team, allowing you to assign tasks and dates to activities.
We are talking about CRM systems (Customer Relationship Management, or customer relationship management). As the name suggests, these tools are designed to help you monitor and track the relationship between your business consumers and the sales team.
As a result, the best CRMs on the market usually offer a panel for creating the sales funnel. As a recommendation, check out our full Pipedrive review and find out how easy it is to do this in the tool.
Why is the sales funnel important?
Now that you know what a sales funnel is, you may be wondering if it is really necessary or why it is important. Well, if you are Content Marketing, the sales funnel is vital to your company’s growth.
It is this funnel that will make the difference between producing various content without focus and having a strategy that uses the content and directs it according to the ranking of leads so that it can really increase sales and impact your results.
Considering this, some of the main functions of the sales funnel are as follows:
Lead generation is one of the priorities in a Digital Marketing strategy in most companies, because the more sales opportunities are created, the better the chances of hitting your goals.
Applying the sales funnel to your strategy helps to generate a much larger number of leads, due to its simple and efficient value proposition.
Basically, the funnel allows the delivery of the ideal content to attract a large number of visitors and convince them that it is worth continuing to learn about the topic.
After “laying the foundation”, rich materials, content of much greater value offered in exchange for useful information for your sales process, come into action.
Without the sales funnel, you cannot follow your sales process from the first point of contact until the sale is completed.
Keeping interest alive
After generating leads, you need to increase their interest gradually, until they are determined to buy from you. Again, the role of the funnel does not go unnoticed.
Think of a large lead base, with hundreds or even thousands of them. We must remember that each of these potential customers is at different times in the purchase journey.
So, how to increase the interest of each one? Through segmented content, that is, by offering each group of leads exactly what they want and need at the moment, instead of distributing the same content to everyone.
The sales funnel is what gives you the direction you need to be able to track the progress of leads on the purchase journey, and learn how to segment messages and materials.
Increase the average ticket and sales opportunities
The lead nurturing process, done through the sales funnel is not only good for driving them to purchase, but it also has a direct effect on how much they will be willing to spend on your products when they are ready to buy.
According to The Annuitas Group, nurtured leads make purchases 47% larger than non-nourished leads, a difference of almost 50% in the average ticket.
In addition, according to Marketo, companies that excel in lead nutrition are able to generate 50% more sales opportunities, at a 33% lower price.
This means that using the sales funnel correctly results in more sales, at a lower cost and with a higher final value!
Preparing the ground for loyalty
Customer loyalty is the golden path for any company. It is much easier (and profitable) to keep the customer base won than having to repeat the same acquisition process for each closed sale.
Fortunately, the sales funnel prepares the ground for this maintenance of your base, since the close relationship with the leads will be maintained after becoming customers.
The contact will also be similar: you will use the same channels, the same language and will continue to seek to offer maximum value to the customer.
This is one of the sales funnel’s proposals: to better understand who your audience is and to approach them in the right way. And that will continue naturally after the first sale.
Online chat and sales funnel
The use of an online chat is essential for an Inbound Marketing strategy. As it has several uses, it can be used in several stages of the sales funnel.
The most common of these is at the bottom of the funnel, that is, when the customer is close to making a purchase. Online chat is crucial for you to increase your retention rates through features such as proactive invitations, which can be used for example when the customer is about to abandon the shopping cart at the time of payment.
You can also use this feature on other conversion pages, such as when a user gives up on registration or to optimize your product page to convert more. With automatic scheduling, it is possible to assist you if you have any problems with the process and increase the lead acquisition rate.
There are even companies that use the mechanism as a basis for qualitative market research in more than one of the stages of the funnel. At the top, to ask questions about the site’s functionality and possible products to be launched; and basically, when they are used for satisfaction questionnaires.
Not to mention, of course, the quality of service, offering assistance to the customer in real time. Thus, the consumer can clarify his doubts. In this case, online chat is closer to the middle of the funnel, functioning as a kind of nutrition flow.
Finally, this tool is also useful for customers who have already made a purchase and are in the enchantment phase. This step is very important, as it is much easier to keep a customer than to get new ones. Here, we mention customer support, which can have all your doubts answered automatically.
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What comes after the sales funnel
When we talk about the sales funnel and the buying journey, we usually consider what happens until the sale is closed. But stopping there would be a big waste!
You have to think about what happens after the funnel has fulfilled its role, and that’s where post-sales comes in! Now that you have a new customer, it’s time to start the loyalty process.
If you do a good job, your new customer will feed the funnel, while promoting your brand to friends and acquaintances.
Some of the pillars of customer loyalty, to which you need to give maximum attention, are:
- After-sales support: quality support adds value to your product and leaves a very strong positive impression on customers, which makes them create a personal identification with the brand and promote it to others;
- Customer Success: by ensuring that the customer has the best possible results with the new product you have just purchased, you also guarantee that he will come back for new purchases;
- Advanced content: through advanced content, it is possible to show how well your company is prepared to help customers even with great challenges, which contributes a lot to customer loyalty.
The sales funnel is a powerful concept that needs to be applied on a daily basis to generate sales and retain current customers. So don’t ignore the power of the sales funnel, apply it as soon as possible and do everything you can to continue optimizing your strategy based on it.
And of course, if you don’t already have your own online chat to do all this and drive the consumer through the sales funnel steps, it’s time to get to know Websites Are Us. Take advantage of features such as proactive invitations and turn your shopping journey into a memorable experience for your customers.
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