Made up of a set of steps and triggers, the sales funnel facilitates decision-making regarding customer acquisition planning and structure
The sales funnel is a representation of the steps that a potential customer goes through, from the first contact with the company to closing the sale. Typically a sales funnel (or pipeline) is divided into 3 stages: top of the funnel (ToFu), middle of the funnel (MoFu) and bottom of funnel (BoFu).
Does your company already have a sales funnel? What are your steps and triggers? Is the funnel aligned with the shopping journey?
In companies that work with Inbound Marketing, such as Resultados Digitais, this strategic model is usually shared between marketing and sales, with each area being responsible for specific steps.
We are always monitoring and reviewing the funnel so that it is as effective as possible in converting Leads into customers.
It is about this important tool that capitalsmart city islamabad will discuss next.
1. What is the sale funnel?
Also called pipeline, the sales funnel is a strategic model that shows the customer’s journey, from the customer’s first contact with the company to closing the deal.
It consists of a set of steps and triggers whose objective is to support the purchase journey of personas in a given organization.
And the shopping journey?
We talked earlier that the sales funnel is responsible for supporting the personas’ buying journey. But what concept is this?
The purchase journey is composed of four stages (learning and discovery, problem recognition, consideration of the solution, and purchase decision) and is intended to represent the steps that the customer takes to purchase a particular product.
As understanding it is critical to understanding the sales funnel concept, we will pause to discuss it in more detail.
The purchase journey is intended to represent the steps that the customer takes to purchase a particular product. In general, it consists of 4 steps:
Step 1: Learning and Discovery
At this stage, the buyer still does not know very well that he has a problem or a business opportunity. The objective at this stage is to awaken his interest in some subject and make him realize that he has a problem or a good business opportunity.
Step 2: Problem recognition
The buyer identifies that they have a business problem/opportunity and begins to research more about that problem and possible solutions;
Step 3: Solution Consideration
The buyer already knows some possible solutions to solve that problem and starts to evaluate alternatives to solve it. At this stage, it is important to be able to create a great sense of urgency. Otherwise, the buyer will identify that they have a solution to their problem, but will not go to great lengths to solve it.
Step 4: Purchase decision
The buyer is comparing available options and researching which one is best for their context. It is important at this stage to highlight the competitive differentials of each of the solutions.
A practical example to understand the buying journey
Probably, throughout life, we have already gone through the journey of buying a dress shoe. The next time we need one, we’ll start the journey directly to the problem recognition step (I don’t have anything to work with on Monday). Then we will go through a quick process of consideration (do I really have the need? do I have money?) until we return to the decision of whether or not to buy the shoe.
In addition to being familiar, this journey has low risk and impact: if I don’t like the shoe, I can give it away, buy another one, or even go to the store and change the model.
Now, let’s add to the complexity of the example: imagine that we need a running shoe to participate in an ultra-marathon for the first time. The buying journey will likely be different, do you agree?
Although we have the idea that it is necessary to purchase a specific shoe, we still don’t know what problems would be caused if we opted for a conventional model, how it influences our performance in the competition or even which shoes we can choose.
Connecting the dots: buying journey and sales funnel
Knowing the customer’s buying journey and its main milestones allows you to plan the sales stages that cover bottlenecks, qualify the customer and shorten the sales cycle.
Qualification is usually translated as triggers for passing between steps in the funnel. These tickets can be automatic (Lead started a trial in the software) or manual (checklist filled in by the seller throughout the sale).
Working with a sales funnel enables the marketing and sales areas to work in an aligned and predictable manner, generating greater efficiency in customer acquisition and scalability in the process.
The outputs of a good sales funnel are a clear trading process, a manageable conversion rate between steps, and creating a forecast of new business.
The stages of the sales process are the way in which the company delivers value to its Leads and which has the individual objective of reaching the triggers that represent the next milestone in the purchase journey.
2. Step by step for building the sales funnel
For you to build your own sales funnel, we recommend you follow the 4 steps below. Come on:
2.1 Map the shopping journey
The first step in creating a sales funnel is to identify the purchase journey made by the organization’s personas.
To discover it, the person responsible for the commercial area must contact as many potential customers as possible in order to understand what their desires and difficulties are along the way.
Bonus tip: Make this contact even when your sales process is automated. The work will make it possible to identify bottlenecks and optimize steps that are not always clear.
2.2 Define the sales process milestones
Once this first mapping of the purchase journey has been completed, it is time to define the main milestones that represent the stage turns.
For example, at what point does my Lead discover he needs to implement a solution to the problem? Can he get to this stage on his own? How can we ensure it reaches this stage?
Answering these questions, we will have the milestones of the purchase journey and the sales process, which should be the same.
2.3 Defining the Sales Funnel Steps
The definition of the stages of the sales funnel must be planned with the objective of giving the greatest possible support to the purchase journey, delivering the necessary value for the potential customer to move forward.
In the execution of the sales process, clear triggers for passage between stages must be observed, making them mean the same thing to different actors and that achieve the objective of bringing predictability to the funnel.
In general, the Inbound Sales funnel is divided into 4 large steps:
In this first stage, we are basically talking about all the people who for some reason visit your site via Google, social media, ads, or any other source of traffic. The interest of visitors is still quite diverse. Thus, they range from curious people who are just carrying out research to those who are already looking for a specific solution.
At this stage it is important to hold the attention of this contact, after all, you had a cost to get him to reach your site. Therefore, always try to offer updated and quality content to motivate your visitor to come back more often.
Good content will also help to have your links shared more often on social networks and mentioned on other sites. This will likely increase the number of visits and ensure that the promotion cycle for this content works well and becomes longer and longer.
Regarding visitors, it is important to use tools that analyze the pages most accessed by them, the most viewed content, the return rate of visits, in addition to other data that allow analyzing the behavior of those who access your site.
Having visitors is great, but to ensure that the sales process stays healthy, we need to do something to move the visitor to the next stage and become a Lead. For this to happen and to ensure a future relationship, you need to capture these Leads through contact forms or quote requests.
Or, even better, doing Content Marketing, through offers such as eBooks, webinars, and discounts, which can be made available on a Landing Page with a downloadable registration form.
To keep a good amount of Leads in the funnel, it is important to measure the result of all actions. Low conversion rates may indicate that the offer is not as attractive, or that too much data is required on the forms. It may be that the fields ask for very sensitive information that not everyone likes to share, such as CPF and telephone numbers, for example. In this case, it is worth creating A/B tests to understand which factors really make the difference and also to ensure the quality of incoming Leads.
After capturing these visitors and turning them into Leads, you need to earn their trust. Much of this construction happens through Leads nutrition. You can do this by sending emails with good content, well-segmented and focused on the needs of each Lead.
There are tools, such as RD Station Marketing, that allow this process to happen in an automated way, but it is important to ensure that your contacts are separated into levels of maturity in relation to the problem they want to solve and by the stage, they are in the funnel. Sales.
With your Leads segmented into smaller groups, it’s easier to understand the type of material that needs to be produced to be sent in nutrition campaigns.
It is also at this stage that Marketing begins to qualify the Leads that are more advanced and that have the profile of your company’s customers. Here, Leads are divided between those who are ready to be passed on to Sales and those who remain in Marketing as they do not yet meet predefined criteria that would qualify them.
Company size, segment, Lead position or number of materials downloaded can be criteria to define whether or not a contract should be sent to a seller, thus moving to the next stage.
Qualified and well-prepared leads increase the possibility of closing for the Sales team. At this stage, those visitors who were captured and worked with the support of the content generated by Marketing are contacted by the sales team. It should take advantage of the existing history to take a more assertive approach because here the Lead has already passed the stage and became an Opportunity.
At this point, Leads are already more open to the first contact, as they already know and perceive your company as a useful source of knowledge for making a purchase decision. They were previously nurtured with information that led them to identify existing problems. Thus, they know that they can be resolved with the support of their salespeople, in addition to being already qualified by the Marketing area.
Leads can be contacted with an indirect offer such as a free trial offer, making contact responsiveness even easier. For this, use and abuse the information present in the relationship history generated by Marketing to go straight to the “pain” point of your potential customer. After all, if your Lead has been following materials on a specific topic, it is very likely that he will be open to a solution.
It is important to understand if the opportunities match the profile desired by the commercial area and to monitor the conversion rates for clients. For this, it is worth mapping the profile of those most successful opportunities and understanding the path they took before being qualified by Marketing. Recurringly downloaded materials, most accessed pages and most clicked emails can indicate a preference for a subject and guide your company’s content planning.
After a complete sales process, taking your Lead through each stage of the funnel, your team will start to be rewarded. Opportunities that turn into customers are now ready to take advantage of all the benefits offered to eliminate the “pain” discovered during the funnel path through your product or service.
Make sure that the Marketing work doesn’t stop there, in fact, here begins a very important period to stimulate retention, increase the possibility of being recommended or making new sales to the same customer.
It is important to measure the level of customer satisfaction, the volume of new purchases and also know how many sales are taking place thanks to the referral of these people. At this stage, a very useful tool is commercial CRMs and individual interviews to discover the reality of each buyer profile.
Probably his needs will not be completely solved the first time, he will have a new question, he will seek to learn more and with that, he will re-enter a sales funnel for a new product or service. That’s why it’s important to think about content that makes your customer evolve well in the funnel and that encourages referral programs with those customers who are more engaged and motivated with your solution.
2.4 Optimizing and scaling the sales funnel
After building the sales funnel, you need to think about how to scale the operation and have the team follow the process for converting new customers. To do this successfully it is advisable to split the process on two fronts: optimization and scale.
The optimization of the funnel initially depends on the definition of activity performance indicators (productivity) and the conversion rates between stages (efficiency).
By managing the productivity of the funnel, you can determine the required level of activities to reach the established goals and thus make the process scalable. Monitoring conversion rates is possible to work efficiently and especially the need for process reviews or new training for the team.
The scale of the sales funnel is based on making people able to perform activities related to the designed process through the construction of playbooks, learning tools, training and certifications.
It is also possible to divide the hopper scale into two parts: onboarding and ongoing. Processes should focus on developing core competencies for process performance.
The onboarding process aims to transmit the minimum and initial knowledge and skills for the salesperson to reach their goals in the ramp-up period, from day 1 to the full goal. The ongoing development process aims to ensure the maintenance of performance, the team’s adaptation to changes in the process and the sale of new products or services.
Sales Funnel 1.0
A Sales Funnel 1.0 is a customer acquisition machine that works with predictability, profitability and sustainability. That’s what we have here at Digital Results with our inbound team. And what does it take to be that customer acquisition machine?
- Clear methodology and a trained team (employees need to know exactly what to do and when to do it);
- Outlined and semi-formalized process (not everything needs to be registered in the smallest details, but it is necessary to understand the message that needs to be conveyed);
- Flexible triggers as needed (it is necessary to have triggers that show how potential customers are evolving in the purchase process);
- Focus on activities and maintain a balance between parts of the sales funnel.
With all these items in the process being followed, it didn’t take long for Resultados Digitais to achieve their goals and grow far above their peers. In addition, the company generated positive revenue from sales operations, and sales reps began to meet their targets as per the benchmarking.
These results ensured the predictability and profitability of the business but still did not provide for its sustainability. So what to do?
The answer was to look deeper into the situation of the sellers… And what we found is that there were problems in knowing exactly which Leads to approach, lack of motivation and difficulty in managing the pipeline. Salespeople needed to have a learning curve and know what they were doing.
To motivate them, the question was whether they were in line with the culture: if you ask them if they want to hit a goal and one of them says no, there is a culture problem.
But once this problem is remedied, how to solve the others? How to take the funnel management operation to the next level?
(Re) building the sales funnel
The first step, then, is to (re)build the sales funnel. For this, it is necessary to follow these steps:
- Purchase process: it is necessary to align the sales process with the potential customer’s purchase journey. You don’t know how the seller should sell, but how the buyer wants to buy;
- Steps and Triggers: Once you understand how he buys, it’s time to design steps in the sales process that support him buying faster, as we want to speed up the process. More than anything, you need to match the customer’s objective with what you want to sell. You need to make the customer understand why they need you.
Don’t forget that, first and foremost, you need to trust your salespeople and that they are advancing Leads correctly and at the right time.
What to measure?
But before we talk about rebuilding the funnel, there is a problem that we need to solve first, which is a recurrent problem in sales teams or teams that use CRM: there are numerous sales metrics, and you need to know which ones are really important to yours. Business. But how do I know if my process is actually moving in the right direction? The answer is: reduce the variables. Some goals that are really important are:
- Business objectives – Increase revenue;
- Sales Objectives – Quantity of new sales and TM;
- Sales activities – Movements (effort you make to move a trigger) and sales efficiency).
Movements and conversion rate
These are two of the most important metrics to focus on: once you have both defined, and you no longer understand your problem, then you can start looking for other parameters to measure.
If you are having a very big problem in conversion rate, for example, it is pertinent to ask: what happened? Is it the triggers? Do I have a follow-up problem? Are records being done wrongly? Am I letting Leads cool down? Why isn’t it working? Focus almost always falls on these metrics. Or is the problem the ability to work? Are they tools, lack technology? So you select the metrics based on your real need. But don’t get focused on too many different metrics. Focus on these two. Once you discover your problem here, then it’s time to attack it.
Okay. But after all, how can you achieve goals and deliver more than you deliver today in a sustainable, predictable and profitable way?
Customizing the funnel for each seller
The answer is to make salespeople understand the process and attack. So the manager needs to help salespeople assemble a plan of attack. It is necessary to establish a plan of moves that the salesperson needs to do to reach their goal, and the salesperson is responsible for their movements and efficiency. You can follow these steps:
- Define the business objective;
- Break-in sales targets (number of accounts, what is the ticket of those accounts);
- Design the necessary activities.
Below is a practical example:
Instead of looking at the top of the funnel, the point is to look at the bottom of the funnel. The manager should ask for results based on the bottom of the funnel. For example, if the salesperson has made 90% of sales that come to close, he or she must take 12 Leads to the bottom of the funnel to close 10 sales. If the efficiency is 80%, it must take 15 Leads to the bottom of the funnel to close 10 sales, and so on. It’s a simple method to apply to any sales team.
The number above the funnel is the number of leads delivered by marketing, and the 17% is the effectively qualified Leads for the Sales team. The others are intermediate stages: 126 are surveyed (to understand the Lead), 35% of this actual prospect; of these, 85% have a first contact with the seller, etc.
Predictable, profitable, and sustainable result
With all this, it is possible to achieve a predictable, profitable, and sustainable result. Thus, an ideal funnel is aligned with the purchasing process, has steps and triggers. It is driven by sales objectives, but it is driven by the movements and efficiency of each step.
It is from this that the seller has to guide their daily lives. And the sales manager has to help the salesperson understand how this works for him, how his ideal funnel is. Then, the manager should take the median of their team’s funnel and see if it works for their business model. You must ask yourself: can I continue attacking the market as I attack today? Will it be profitable? If so, all you have to do is search for goals.
8 Steps to Implementing the Ideal Sales Funnel
Finally, we designed a step-by-step guide that can be implemented in 3 days to structure the ideal sales funnel in your company:
- Align the consumer’s purchase journey with the sales process: it’s no use doing everything we’ve said if you’re still out of the purchasing process;
- Define process steps and triggers: To do this, you need to understand the process. Show your salespeople how the buying process works, what they need to understand, what they have in the learning phase, recognizing the problem, considering the solution… What they can do before buying, and what they do at the time buying. Ask yourself how you can help this Lead to evolve faster, and how do you make a trigger that, in addition to showing that the Lead is evolving, makes it more and more likely to become your customer;
- Position the deals in the funnel according to the new process: If you have deals in your pipeline, see how they fit into this new model. What you are doing is looking at your current funnel situation. What do I need to do to make it work?
- Create an action plan for each business (go up or go out): either your Lead goes to the next step or it must come out of the funnel. Don’t let the seller “get attached”;
- Execute the action plan within 72 hours: encourage your salesperson to make the action plan within 3 days, so there is no procrastination;
- Identify the new funnel situation and design the necessary moves to hit the target: check how close you are to hitting the target and what you need to get there. It is possible that in the first month of the new method you will not hit the goal, but it is necessary to create the environment for this;
- Execute the moves, maintaining or improving efficiency: follow the salesperson working and ensure that he understands the triggers and is doing the processes in the best possible way;
- HIT THE GOAL!
Finally, there is no magic formula for sales: you need to understand your situation and project if you are able to make it relevant to your business model and if you are able to make your salespeople perform better and not waste Leads.
3. Tools for managing a sales funnel – CRM
During the structuring of the sales funnel, it is normal to start thinking about how to control the flow of visitors, leads, opportunities and customers, recording activities, contacts and planning activities. This is where sales funnel management tools come into play.
The famous CRM is a sales tool that helps you organize and control the sales process: it automatically records your interactions with contacts, reminds you and your team to do follow-ups and centralizes all information in one place.
CRM allows you to create standardized sales stages and facilitates the management of day-to-day activities and the monitoring of the results of your team and each salesperson.
The best way to manage your funnel is to carry out a prior mapping of the process, as seen above, and understand which functions could be automated or monitored in a broad way (management of activities). Once that is defined, then it is time to look for a tool that meets these requirements.
We offer RD Station CRM, a sales tool that can help you improve the organization and management of your business process.
4. Why is it important to define your sales funnel
The definition and understanding of the sales funnel are essential for you to determine the health of your customer acquisition machine and, therefore, draw strategies aimed at achieving your goals.
The process of creating or reviewing the funnel itself improves your understanding of the customer’s buying journey and signals what actions your company can take to optimize sales.
If you are taking the first steps in this definition, you can use our Sales Funnel Tool. With it, you can define funnel steps and tasks for each one of them, receiving a ready-made final result to share with your team and start the work.