In sales and marketing, you will often hear people talking about a “sales funnel”. While it is a metaphorical term rather than a physical item, it is essential to the growth of your business.
So what exactly is a sales funnel and why is it important?
A sales funnel is, in its simplest form, something which your leads fall into when they’re interested in a product or service that you’re offering. Through your sales process, you’ll lead them down the metaphorical tunnel that will eventually turn them into paying customers/clients.
On average, buyers need to get at least 57% through the buying process before they are actually ready to buy from you. This shouldn’t be ignored because it means they are (quite rightly) doing their due diligence before they even consider reaching out to you about your services or products. This is great because it means that the work you have done to create your sales funnel is doing the selling for you (social media. print ads, word of mouth), but you need to consider how much of that is setting you in a positive stance with your target audience?
To do this, you need to take a step back and find out what parts of your marketing activity contributes to your sales funnel, and why it’s important.
When you create a business, you create visibility for your business. This can be in a very basic format (a Companies House listing), or in a very public and open format (social media, website etc). Identifying how your sales funnel fills up is the first thing you need to do in order to ensure that it’s filling up without any leaks.
Visibility creates opportunity. Identifying where and how you are visible will determine the opportunities you create for your business. A starting point for this is to ensure that you are targeting the RIGHT kind of audience for your business. This is where demographics and buying personas come into their own.
At Cariad Marketing, we want to appeal to growing SMEs who need help with their digital marketing, as well as companies who either need to create a brand new website, or replace an existing one. Being visible to these kinds of companies means we need to hang out where they do, which is where our marketing strategy focuses. By having a great website, a relatable and professional presence on LinkedIn, and a marketing team that is contactable and helpful (relating to our company values and ethos), we ensure that people like us will buy from us. It is no coincidence that the great clients we work with share our values and ethics!
How you fill your funnel will depend on the kind of business you have. For example, with a business that is consumer facing, selling online has to ensure that the people attracted into the funnel are the kind of people who either have a need or would like that company’s product or service. A company selling T-shirts with funny slogans on then, for example, will be wasting its time hanging out with CEOs and business owners on LinkedIn, but will thrive over on a relaxed and fun Facebook environment (there is of course, room on both platforms, but for for purpose of strategy, you need to focus efforts where you will be getting the most results).
This is where potential customers haven’t yet heard of you. They don’t know what you do and don’t know if they need your products or services. This is where marketing and advertising thrive, and strategy comes into play.
Potential customers have found you and like what they see and hear because you have targeted who you want to work with. This is the point at which they move down the sales funnel and make contact with you. It is now up to the sales team to qualify this lead.
If you have followed your strategy and targeted the right person, this should be quite an easy process.
They love you! They have the budget and they want to work with you. This is where you present your offering and they either take it up, or leave it.
Congratulations – you are at the end of your sales funnel! Erm… but not so fast…
Quite often, the sales funnel is considered to be complete when you have won the business. But it is dangerous to assume this. Once a client or customer spends money with you, it’s important that the product or service they receive is so good, they become your biggest advocate, making them an essential part of your sales funnel.
In digital marketing, this is where we speak about the importance of reviews (Google in particular), as they live on long after your customer/client has bought your product or service. When your target market is at the top of the funnel (untouched), reviews are often the start of their journey and are an important element of helping them decide whether or not to make contact. Word of mouth is the best recommendation and your potential leads will be talking to their contacts, listening to endorsements, and making a judgment based on your reputation.
Think of your sales funnel as a never ending thing, and make sure the BOTTOM of your funnel is feeding back into the TOP. In this way, you will ensure a steady stream of business coming your way.
At Cariad, we are always dazzling and delighting our clients, so that they shout from the digital rooftops about how good we are. By giving them the attention they deserve, they will become Cariad Marketing advocates – you can’t get a better sales team than that, and they will help to keep our sales funnel nice and full at the top. … That is, if they want to share their secret!
For help with defining your sales funnel contact us today for some friendly and professional advice!