Smart Sales Funnels Strategies 101: Generate More Sales Today!

As a business owner, you understand the pain when you lose a sale like no one else in your team. The funnels that a lot of small businesses use are very leaky and are plagued with missed follow-ups and appointments, inconsistent messaging and messy sticky notes and spreadsheets. The majority of businesses don’t even realize this because they have no idea what their sales funnel looks like. They know how many visitors and sales they have, but everything else in the middle is a mystery to them. Analysing your sales funnel is critical because it’ll tell you exactly where you need to invest your money, time, and effort to improve. Focusing your time and effort on the right spot in the funnel is going to be the most beneficial to you.

What Is A Sales Funnel?

Let’s first take a look at what the sales funnel is before we explain why and how you should use them. Funnels are widest at the top and they narrow down as a customer gets closer to the sale. Terminology is quite simple. There are basically three types of people that you’ll communicate with during any sales process:

  • Leads
  • Prospects
  • Customers
sales funnel

Lead

A lead is someone who you pursue for a sale (they don’t necessarily need to know about your company yet) or someone who becomes aware of your company. You could further segment leads into only qualified leads, which are people who meet a certain qualification that is more likely to become a customer later on. For example, if you are selling car parts, a qualified lead is someone who already owns a car, versus someone who just likes cars in general but doesn’t necessarily own a car. This part of the funnel is also referred to as the awareness stage. They could be interacting with your blog, email campaign, paid advertising, or social media marketing. You should take note of all your “awareness” activities and how effective are they. 

Prospect

Usually, a prospect is someone that had some kind of contact with your company and that showed some kind of interest toward your products or services. So, all prospects are leads, but not all leads are prospects. In this stage, the number of potential customer’s decrease, but the ones that are in this stage have a much greater chance to convert later on. The potential customer usually engages with your company in some way, ask a question, schedule a call, or request more information. After this, that person is considered a lead, and a further process could include sales offers from you and customer’s further research into the different options he or she has.

Customer

Customers are people who’ve made a purchase or signed a contract.

 

At the top of the sales funnel are leads. You are always trying to find as many leads as possible to bring into your funnel because the more you have, the greater chance that someone will be a prospect or a qualified lead. So, a part of those leads will become prospects, which are people who are qualified to purchase in some way or the other. It’s all a numbers game.

More leads equal more prospects, which then in return gets you more customers. You should be tracking what percentage of people move down the funnel. Your goal with any funnel is to find as many good leads as possible and increase the percentage of people who get one level closer to the end goal.

The Sales Process 101

The exact sales process will vary depending on what you are selling, but here’s the general overview of what the majority of customers go through:

Awareness

The first step is to make someone aware that your company exists. There are many ways you can tackle this, such as email marketing, social media marketing, paid advertising, cold calling, word of mouth and much more. The specifics of what you sell will direct the way of how you make customers aware. For example, if you are selling cell phone apps, then doing paid advertising on mobile devices is going to be the most effective.

Education

In this step, you need to educate the prospects and explain to them why they need your service or a product, how it exactly works, and how it can help them. Don’t get too aggressive on the selling in this step just yet because it can be a bit of a turn-off. Take friendly approach and try to connect with the prospect in some way and then build upon that.

lead education

Evaluation

In the evaluation step, the prospect will be thinking and trying to figure out if purchasing is the best thing to do. Depending on your industry, you may want to give the prospect some kind of a demo or a free sample. For selling online, videos are very effective in this stage. If you have a loyal fan base, then this will help tremendously because in this stage the prospect will usually talk to others or look at reviews about the potential purchase.

Engagement

Many people get stuck in this part, so you should nudge them, but without being too pushy. You should try to use some discounts or bonuses if you think that it’ll push them closer to purchase.

Commitment

This is where someone has committed to purchase your product or service. It usually goes along with the next step (purchase), but in some cases, it could be a separate step. It can happen that someone will make just a verbal commitment, but then drop off later on. You should have a process ready if this happens and make a sale right there on the spot before the prospect changes his mind.

Purchase

The end of the sales funnel where you’ve got a sale.

How To Find More Leads

This is the first step that you should tackle, no matter what your business is about. We’ll list several ways on how to get more leads into your sales funnel, and you should select and implement those that make the most sense in your industry.

Blogging

Blogging is usually everyone’s favourite form of content marketing and is proven that is the most efficient. Plus, blogs can get you plenty of leads through search engines if you work on your SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is a long-term plan that has many moving parts, but it usually pays off really well when you get ranked for many keywords related to your industry and you get free organic traffic coming to your website daily. Blogging is also great to get shares on social networks and you’ll reach a wider audience.

When using the blog, be sure to have some way of collecting information from people. This is usually done with an email form or pop-up. By implementing this, you have a way of contacting them later when they leave your blog. Also carefully think of what you will write about and try to write for people who intent to buy. In other words, write about subjects that people who would be interested in your product or service would like to know more about.

Social Networks

Social networks are a great way to find new leads while also connecting with your fans. The big ones that you should use are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but you can use others if it makes sense in your industry.

When using Twitter, look chats where you can participate. You can use the search bar to find people asking questions that you can answer. Use 80/20 rule when interacting with people on social media. At least 80% of the time, you should use social networks like you would generally without actively promoting yourself.

Advertising on Facebook is another great way to get more leads as Facebook offers one of the best targeting options possible across all advertising platforms in the world, plus they have a 1.5 billion user base.

Using other social networks such as LinkedIn to participate in conversations and advertise is great, just make sure that it makes sense to use that social network for your specific industry.

Offer Something For Free

This is one of the best ways to get more leads. In this strategy, you are giving away something valuable for free. In return, you are asking for the person to give you their email address or phone number. This is very easy to implement on your blog in a sidebar or you can run ad campaigns from Facebook to the landing page that is designed to capture their contact information and give them their gift for free on the next page or in the email follow up.

opt in

How To Nurture Your Leads

The biggest challenging in the sales process is to move them down the sales funnel and closer to a sale. This is called lead nurturing. You should make your leads feel special while also giving your communication with them a personal touch. You should respond to any questions quickly because when someone asks for some information, they are expecting it right there and then so they can make a decision.

Communicating often with your leads is a good thing because you need to stay on top of their minds, don’t let the communication go stale. While doing this, you can incentivize them with bonuses and special deals if they make a purchase right now.

Prior to communicating with leads, you should research them so you can sell to them more easily by knowing what can they afford, what are their pain points, etc. Segmenting leads will allow you to reach more targeted people which will get you more sales in the end.

Common Sales Funnels Problems

lead stages

One of the main problems is a leaky sales funnel. What happens is that at some point down the funnel you lose leads. You should work on identifying this point and trying to fix it.

There are also problems that we outline below that you can refer to in case something like this happens to you.

Too Many Prospects

If you already have too many prospects, then the best thing to do is to nurture them because they could become opportunities. Start engaging with them via email marketing and they’ll be one step closer to becoming the customer. Figure out how you can nurture those prospects to help sales and what type of information you should be sharing with them.

Not Enough Prospects

This happens when you have a lot of leads and visitors but they are not becoming prospects. This usually happens when you don’t have a way to convert them down through the sales funnel. Maybe you need to add a call to action somewhere or tweak something differently. Examine how people flow and interact with your website. This can also happen when you are targeting completely different people. You should then refine your ideal customer and the buyer personas, then work on refining your content based on that information.

Low Close Rate

Here you have plenty of leads and prospects and they are really close to purchasing and want to move forward, but for some reason, they pull back at the last minute. This is because you’ve got some leaks in your funnel. Look for objections and roadblocks that are getting in the way of a sale.

Not Enough Leads

This is a clear sign that you have very little exposure via all channels. If this is the case, you should work on your content, social media marketing, email marketing and investing into paid advertising such as Google AdWords and Facebook ads to boost your awareness.

CONCLUSION

The stages of a funnel will differ from industry to industry. Some funnels have only two steps, while others have upwards of five. Always A/B test when implementing new sales funnel so you know which one works best for you.

When you create your sales funnel or find all the leaks in your current funnel, that is not when your work is done. This is when you should gather and analyse data and use it to improve your sales funnel so you get better results. Once you’re leveraging the strength of each individual part of the sales process, you’ll be getting new leads, transforming them to prospects and then seamlessly converting them to buyers.