A sales process is the most important aspect of any business. From how you generate leads, to how you nurture and close them, it all matters. This blog post will focus on how your success depends on a proper sales process: understanding prospects and moments in order to build a better sales funnel.
The first step of a sales process is how you generate leads. You need to know what the prospects are looking for, and when they need it. It’s important to create content that will resonate with them at different points in their buying cycle so they can find your company as an option before they even start looking.
Once you have generated this interest, it’s time to nurture these leads into becoming customers by making sure each customer has a smooth experience from inquiry all the way through the purchase and beyond. This requires proper data management (giving people exactly what they want) and training staff on how best to engage with buyers throughout their entire journey (including which questions or objections should be given priority).
Sales funnel explained
The sales funnel is the process of converting prospects into buyers. The stages in this process represent potential buyers’ progression until they complete a purchase.
Stages of a sales funnel
One of the many mistakes newcomers to B2B sales make is overlooking their sales funnel. They assume it’s just a B2C thing when in reality, according to Belkins, 68% of businesses that don’t identify the stages of the sales funnel lose 60% of potential buyers.
Most common of all is the misconception, that sales funnels are easy to design because they have a simple structure. Most business owners expect their sales funnel to look like that perfect model from the images:
In theory, it is quite simple, but in reality, the process of converting leads into buyers is much more complicated. It can include, actually, several dozen of steps. Like, for example:
- problem identification;
- online research;
These “additions” are not mentioned in the average articles about sales funnels. So, business newcomers start their process by structuring a basic sales funnel that emphasizes KPIs, estimates, and revenue. Unfortunately, as soon as they come across the challenges and situations their early steps didn’t warn them about, their neat system crumbles in natural human chaos.
Due to the changing marketing landscape, some experts are insisting that the traditional sales funnel is no longer relevant. Hence, all of your marketing strategies should be centered around influencing buyers and empowering their journey towards purchase.
Sales funnels may not be the most trendy phrase in use, but they are still a worthwhile investment. It’s just these days, their role has shifted: they’re navigating vendors, not buyers.
Challenges of the modern sales funnel
The complexity of the funnel starts at the top. Attrition rates are high, so sourcing enough qualified leads to the top begins by looking at avenues for inbound or outbound lead generation.
Outbound marketing relies on the traditional methods of print, cold-calling, direct-mail advertising as well as email blasts, and digital or social media. For this type of outbound marketing, you can potentially reach a large number of prospects but according to these generalizations, messages must be highly selective. In outbound marketing, you can also use different software, for example, Folderly, which can dramatically improve your email deliverability.
Inbound leads reach your company via webpages, demo signups, or landing pages and come with a good amount of information. These inbound leads are from prospective customers who found what attracts them about your product and business enough to speak up and reach out for more.
So, the challenge is to define your strategies for both types of leads.
The next challenge is getting people to get through the funnel and keep up with where they are, so you can provide them with appropriate information. Detailed product specs won’t work for someone at the top of the funnel who’s in an awareness stage or looking for something else entirely, whereas a strategic overview slide deck won’t help someone who’s almost ready to make their decision and is comparing your product to that of competitor and really needs to dive into technical detail.
Creating a sales funnel
Remember to follow your sales process as you consider what your funnel stages might be. Put your sales funnel to work and start establishing three points: Who? What? When?
- Knowing when to make each step of the sales process part of your business is a key to success.
- What should be done at this stage?
- Who should be accountable for the stage?
Your next step, based on your current customer base, would be to review: surveys of big data databases, the cooperation with those recently converted customers in the RFP process.
In order to understand your buyer, it is vital that you have a system in place for monitoring and documenting information about them. This means keeping your sales funnel organized in a CRM or other customer management software so that you can not only know what they bought but also when they had contact with the company.