Why do I need a marketing sales funnel?
A well-defined sales funnel is your trump card. It is key to helping you understand your customer journeys and optimise the sales process. Your sales funnel is a vital strategic component that feeds both revenue and business efficiency. However, 68% of B2B businesses have yet to identify their marketing sales funnel. Yes, over two thirds of businesses are missing out on vital sales insights and opportunities.
Read the rest of this short guide outlining what a sales funnel is and how your business can make the most out of this powerful tool.
What is a sales funnel and how does it work?
A sales funnel is a visual representation of the journey a prospect takes from first awareness of your brand towards purchase. Think of it as an upside-down pyramid divided into three decreasing stages from top, middle, down to bottom with only the most engaged prospects moving through to close:
Prospects have identified a problem and are researching solutions. Sales efforts at this stage educate and include cold touches with content such as blog posts or infographics.
Buyers are considering your solution and engaging with sellers. Marketing content such as e-books or whitepapers combined with sales demos, meetings or events help to qualify
prospects and push them to convert.
Your lead has made the decision to purchase. Sales teams produce proposals or terms of contract backed up with content such as feature comparisons and product videos. Win rates can vary here depending upon prospect engagement or external factors such as budgetary concerns.
A sales funnel allows you to strategically plan marketing and sales activities to nurture prospects towards a buying decision with each stage containing more meaningful interactions than the last.
How do I manage my sales funnel?
A well-constructed sales funnel takes you beyond planning activity. Sales funnel analysis reveals areas of leakage to protect your revenue and gross margin. It can help you to identify your most profitable customer acquisition channel, your marketing qualified lead (MQL) to sales qualified lead (SQL) conversion rate and gives insight into why you are winning or losing deals.
You can prevent revenue leakage by continually analysing your sales funnel for areas of drop-off and examining pipeline velocity (the time taken to move through the funnel). A marketing sales funnel needs continual management and A/B testing to optimise interaction through new calls to action, landing pages, drip email campaigns, nurture programmes and more.
Remember: The average B2B purchase cycle takes place over many months and involves multiple decision makers, making accurate data and tracking a necessity for your sales funnel. An accurate, optimised sales funnel is essential to ensure that no opportunities are lost (your funnel is only ever as good as the data you put in). This is how CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems can take your funnel management one step further, providing both greater visibility across the prospect cycle as well as touch points to nurture leads and prioritise based on lead scoring.
How can I get help to build and manage my sales funnel?
Hiring an external consultant may be a good option to get you started. Based on data analysis and research, a marketing consultancy can help you identify where your leads come from, create and optimise your sales funnel, run bespoke sales enablement training and help you understand customer life cycles and buying patterns.
Given that two thirds of B2B businesses have not identified their marketing sales funnel, there is a significant opportunity for you to optimise your sales, increasing the number of qualified leads, increasing win rate and reducing the length of the sales cycle by increasing funnel velocity.
Forbes describes the sales funnel as a marketing strategy. It’s how your potential customers go from “Who the heck are you?” to “Yes, I want to buy!” If you currently rely on cold calling or cold emails to a mailing list, you may be stuck in the “Who the heck are you?” phase. Time for a change?
About the author
Merce C represents a marketing technology consultancy focused on marketing strategy, advice, lead generation, inbound, automation and training
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