For some brands, the creation and utilization of a sales funnel is integral to a successful sales process. Instead of turning prospects into leads and eventually to buyers from existing customers, the sales funnel generates buyers out of people who have never heard of your brand.
Certainly, using a sales funnel sounds like a much more challenging strategy because you are creating leads from a completely new group of potential buyers. But, it seems that now more than ever, companies are opting for the funnel process. As MarketingSherpa mentions, “57% of B2B organizations identify converting qualified leads into paying customers as a top funnel priority.”
Once you have a sales funnel going, you will find the benefits to ultimately be rewarding. The only downside is that you are bound to encounter the troubles of a leaky sales funnel, as all marketing professional do. The trick is to find the leak and to patch up for success.
Let’s take a look at the sales funnel process and how you can repair the normal troubles that come with it.
A Quick Explanation of the Sales Funnel
The basics of a sales funnel are pretty easy to understand. Sales funnels arose out of a marketing model known AIDA model. As GrassHopper points out this model has four components:
- Awareness: Fostering Awareness of your brand
- Interest: Awareness leads to Interest in your brand
- Desire: Desire for the product or service arises
- Action: Action is taken by prospect to purchase the product or service
While the four prongs of a sales funnel originated with the AIDA model and still serve as an excellent way to foster customers, the old model worked as a traditional pyramid. Today’s marketing professionals have implemented an inverted pyramid that now looks like this:
As you can tell, each prong is broad in concept. Each topic contains details on how to maximize every stage of the process. Sometimes though, you can fall into the same trappings as most marketing professionals. The most common concern for marketing professionals who use the sales funnel technique is leaks at a certain stage of the process.
The remedy to this issue is to identify where the leak is coming from and to patch things up as quickly as possible. By taking this action immediately, you will be able to prevent leads from flowing out of your funnel and impeding your sales process.
The first step in fixing your sales funnel is to figure out exactly where your trouble point is located. But, before we delve into how to find where the leak is coming from, you may be asking yourself why you need to repair something that seems to work just fine. It’s a good question, so let’s take a look at the answer below.
Why Repair a Leaky Sales Funnel
- A Leak in Funds. When your funnel has a leak, you are also looking at a fund issue. As one marketing blog smartly mentions, a leak in your funnel means that you are reducing the amount of buyers going through the sales process. With fewer buyers transitioning through the sales funnel, your brand is making less money.
- A Breakdown in Communication Between Sales and Marketing. As a marketing professional, you may sometimes underestimate the importance of a positive relationship with your sales department. When it comes to the sales funnel, your job isn’t to simply help market your products, but it’s also to bring the sales department the tools that it needs to perform its job well. If you have a leaky funnel, your sales team may be missing out on reining in the customers that can improve the business.
- A Breakdown in the Customer’s Journey. Lastly, as Kissmetrics mentions, a broken sales funnel is also a breakdown in your customer’s journey. For example, your customer may filter through the awareness stage, but at the next stages, they have nowhere to go because your brand hasn’t done a good job at managing the process. As a result, their interest of your brand soon turns to disinterest, thereby costing you in sales and revenue.
By understanding the issues that can arise with a leaky sales funnel, you will feel more inclined to take immediate actions. Marketing professionals who work hard to facilitate the process and to ensure that there are no issues with their sales funnel typically see better results than those who fail to recognize the problems.
Now that you have a good sense of why you need to maintain your sales funnel, let’s take a look at how you can identify a leak.
How to Identify a Leak in Your Sales Funnel
The good news is that when there is a leak in the sales funnel, it isn’t too difficult to identify. You will need to take a good view at a number of metrics to determine where the problem is coming from. Here are a few of the strategies that you can use to find the leak:
- Google Analytics. According to MoreVisibility, Google Analytics is perhaps one of the most useful tools that you can take advantage of when identifying a leak. Once you have your funnel set up through Google Analytics and have identified the goals that you would like to meet with your funnel, you can start identifying the different stages of your funnel. At the end stage, you can see your funnel visualization through the platform, which would look like this:
After you have attained a visual of the funnel, you should analyze the percent changes between each stage of the process. For example, you will find that of the 10,214 users in the shopping cart stage dropped by nearly 4,000. This is a dramatic difference and it is one of the easiest signifiers that you have got a problem with your funnel. Your goal is to maintain consistency between each stage.
- Conversion by Device. Another area that you can look at is your conversions by device. Many marketing professionals overlook the necessity of reviewing their conversion rate for both mobile and desktop devices, thereby locking them out of potential customers across different channels.
As CrazyEgg recommends, you should find the proper software that allows you to view a simple report of how many conversions you are attaining through each device. Here is an example from CrazyEgg that explains what the inference would typically show you.
As you can tell, there is a significant difference between how many sessions you are seeing between each device. For example, the desktop device shows over 120,000 sessions, while the mobile and tablet are both at about half. Another important piece of data to look at is the bounce rate. The bounce rate is how many visitors on your site leave after viewing only one page.
Lastly, the final point to look at on the chart is the goal conversion rate. As you can tell, the initial bar identifies that the goal rate is 1.65%. Below that, you will see that the mobile conversion rate is particularly low, meaning that you have a leak in that area too.
- Visitor Return Rate. Your visitor return rate also factors into the success of your sales funnel. As your goal is maintaining a consistent visitor return rate through every stage of the process, you will know that there is a problem with the funnel when you aren’t achieving that goal. At some point of the process, your visitors aren’t returning to your website and are disinterested in what you have to offer. Here is an overview from CrazyEgg that identifies a visitor return rate problem:
In the chart above, it’s noticeable that the number of returning visitors has decreased substantially. With fewer returning visitors, your brand may not be getting the benefit of fully drawing those users in to finalize the sales process. Another point to look at is the number of transactions performed. At that level too, the sales funnel is significantly lacking.
Overall, in terms of understanding where your leaks are, the above metric analysis strategies are excellent options. The downside of using these options is that they can be a bit time consuming. However, if you are looking to do things right, then you should be fully engaging in every stage of the process.
After you have determined the issues with your funnel and where you need to improve, you should think of how you can start to patch things up. Fortunately, there are a few excellent strategies that you can take advantage of when fixing your sales funnel. Let’s take a look at the strategies below:
Stage One: Starting at the Top – Buyer Attraction
The easiest way to go through the process of repairing your sales funnel is to go through every stage. Since the top of your funnel is one of the broadest stages because it is where you are attracting your buyers, you should focus there first.
According to HatchBuck, funnels that are not attracting the right buyers usually have issues that arise out of poor web content, calls to action, emails, and landing pages. In addition, some other sources identify poor content marketing and a lackluster social media marketing strategy as a cause for less than stellar buyer attraction numbers.
Another issue that you may have in the buyer attraction stage is that you are not attracting the right buyers. If you are failing to attract the right crowd, then there is a very small chance that you will be able to funnel that group through the funnel. As Kissmetrics mentions, you should try reimaging your ideal customer and that the ideal customer profile includes more factors than just the, “the person’s age, gender, and job status.”
Your job is to essentially dig deeper into your customer’s profile and to formulate the right customer persona with your marketing and sales team. With a strong insight of who your ideal customer is, you will be able to market materials to them in a manner that draws them through the initial stage of the funnel.
Finally, in a LinkedIn post by a Business Growth Strategist, you may also want to use other resources like free reports, giveaways, newsletters, and social media to improve your buyer attraction rates. By focusing on this stage early on, you will see better results later.
Stage Two: Collecting Leads
The second stage of your sales funnel is where you primarily focus on generating leads. As Net Atlantic mentions, there are many ways you can prevent your lead stage from drying up. But one of the best options is to improve your email marketing efforts. Email marketing is cost effective, nurtures your leads, and allows the prospect to engage with your brand in a way that generates successful results.
According to Experian, improving your email marketing can be achieved through analyzing email campaign reports, providing customers with exactly what they want, and creating split A/B tests that indicate which email marketing strategy is performing better. By taking these types of steps, you will be able to improve your email marketing campaign and subsequently, your lead portion of the sales funnel.
In addition to email marketing, you may be having trouble at the leads stage because you aren’t nurturing your leads enough. Nurturing leads is an even easier endeavor than improving your email marketing strategy. HubSpot identifies a number of ways that you can nurture your leads to draw them through the rest of the sales funnel.
- Call to Action. As you have likely heard time and time again, your call to action is one of the most significant pieces of content that you have on your website. When creating a call to action, it should function dynamically and propose to your user to take action now. The stronger your call to action, the more effective it will be.
- Blogs About Topics Sourced from the Sales Team. Your sales team is just as important as your marketing team. To nurture leads, you should speak to your sales team and ask them what your users are interested in or asking. This way, you can create content that addresses their issues in an easier and friendly manner. A strategy like this will also bring a higher value to your brand and it will foster more lead interest.
- Email Blog Content to Unengaged Leads: Nurturing goes far beyond taking care of those leads that seem semi-interested or completely interested; it also extends to managing those who have not shown any interest at all. To help nudge them through your sales funnel and to show that you care, you should try emailing them your blog content. By sharing with them informational pieces about your brand or industry, they may be more likely to go through the funnel.
- Encourage Subscriptions: Finally, this method goes hand-in-hand with a call to action. Your website or content should include information that encourages your users to subscribe to your brand. By being active in the subscription process, you will notice better results.
Stage Three: The Sales Stage
The last stage to focus on is the stage where you convert your leads to sales. While a lot of this stage has to do with the performance of your sales team and how they handle the final execution of the process, your marketing team does have some work to do too. In your realm of work, you should more effort onto your lead conversion strategy.
In regard to the most successful marketing professional at this stage, Marketing Wizdom explains, “Some clients have increased their conversion rate more than ten-fold while at the same time dramatically reducing the cost of acquiring those customers.”
Luckily, there are easy ways that you can improve your final stage of the sales funnel for a higher conversion rate.
The first option is to qualify your leads upfront. Sometimes, you may think that your lead is interested in the product or service, only to find that your investment resulted in no return. To avoid this issue, you should work on pre-qualifying your leads. In an article by CBS News, to prequalify your lead, you should try visualizing your target, identify the strengths of your brand, match strengths and targets, and improve your sales efforts.
If you do not want to go down the route of pre-qualifying leads or if you think you are doing well in that department already, then another option is to map your sales process better. According to Sales Performance, mapping the sales process really starts at identifying the customer’s journey and reviewing the work that aligns with that journey. At every stage of the journey, you should evaluate the types of inquiries and information that your potential customers will look for. Here is an example of a strong sales map:
By following a similar strategy for your own mapping process, you’ll be able to ensure that the sales stage leads to the results that you are looking for.
Overall, your sales funnel is one of the most useful tools that you can use to turn your prospects into sales. By making sure that you are meeting all of the requirements at every stage of the process and that you are focusing on the more important points, you will see your marketing efforts and brand improve dramatically.