Many think that the sales process is a one and done thing. If the customer is interested, they buy and you make money. Right? Not exactly. The truth is that customer acquisition involves a sales funnel.
Sales funnel: (noun) Multiple phases of the buying decision process that influence whether or not you land that account
Want to gain and retain more customers? Master how you navigate the sales funnel.
How does the online sales funnel work?
You may have heard of the sales funnel referred to by sales and marketing teams alike. The funnel essentially describes the buyer’s journey, the level of engagement that leads to the sale conversion for your company. This gives your company a solid roadmap to work with in order to effectively lead the prospect into trusting and ultimately purchasing from you. The online sales funnel refers to the same concept but takes into account the accessibility and behaviors surrounding the web.
The Web presents a host of opportunities to effectively guide and track prospects in each stage of the buyer’s journey due to the fact that you’re dealing with instant access to information. However, there remain challenges to outmaneuvering competition and engaging the customer effectively. Because most buying and product/service research has shifted to the digital space, it’s critical that you understand and utilize the sales funnel in a digital context.
The Internet provides more ways than ever to get your company’s name out there and sell. To do this you just need a proper strategy for reeling in customers. This is where the sales funnel comes into play.
A strategy of stages
The sales funnel outlines the customer journey from introduction to closing, but within their journey lies the opportunity for you to guide the outcome. You do this by applying targeted engagement at the appropriate stage in the journey. Essentially you are building trust that your company is the right choice.
While the journey of the sales funnel is pretty consistent, individual prospects are not. Some things to consider are company size, industry, pain points, and individual biases. Addressing each stage of the sales funnel means navigating all of these hurdles appropriately. Let’s look at the stages of the funnel itself.
Awareness refers to getting your brand out there and cementing your status as a knowledgeable, reputable business. This is where SEO, blogging, social media, success stories, and ad copy is so important. You need to be able to show up in web searches around what your customers are looking for and researching. It’s also important that when people click on your website that it communicates your brand effectively. This is the top of the funnel and the initial step of the selling process. People won’t buy from companies they don’t know. Your marketing must get your name out there and exhibit its features and insight in a way that prospects are drawn in by your expertise and grow interested.
Once prospects are aware of your company and what you offer, they begin to generate interest. This is the time for sales and marketing teams to nurture this interest to move them further to the sale. You do this by engaging the customer and educating them about your product or service. Marketing content continues to play a central role here. Brochures, videos, articles, case studies, guides, and other materials are used to teach the prospect more about your company and how you can solve their problems. This is a crucial stage to demonstrate that you are aware of customer pain points and are equipped to not only meet their needs but provide added value too. You may discuss pricing here, but if you address their needs with solutions successfully, the prospect is more open to the price. Don’t sell on price – sell on value. They are beginning to like what you’re selling.
Almost there! Desire reflects the point at which interest has been firmly secured and the prospect is very open to your company for business. While all your marketing materials and sales measures are still needed, you’ll probably find that customer success stories and accolades even more useful to share in this stage. By this time, the prospect is aware of your business and you have gained their trust to be of consideration – they’re leaning towards the sale. Now it’s time to justify the connection with assuring them that you can fully accommodate their needs. You may need to give product demos and provide detailed product outlines to finally solidify their desire for your product.
This stage of the sales funnel reflects when the customer finally commits to your company. You must outline agreements and deliverables to guarantee the customer’s satisfaction and support. Frequently asked questions and other guiding materials can help the final buying process and welcome your new customer into the fold. Following up with next steps is always good too. You should make it as easy as possible for your website’s visitors to take action (Rystedt Creative can help).
Many assume the sale is complete at this point, but this isn’t the case at all, not when you can retain the customer. Customer loyalty holds the key to long-term success. Not only is retaining happy customers great for your reputation, but it’s also critical to maintaining your revenue stream. You’re 40% more likely to sell to customers who already trust you than you are to gain a new customer!
The fact that you can perform well enough to keep your customers also shows prospects that you deliver and will take care of their needs. There are several customer retention strategies you can deploy, but it’s important to never lose the selling mindset. A major way to keep customers interested is to maintain lines of communication and offer free beneficial resources. Blogs, newsletters, product update details, and customer spotlights are just a few things you can use to keep your customers in the sales funnel.
Smart marketing = smooth selling
Navigating the online sales funnel can be tricky. When it comes to designing your website and producing content to hook customers, you need fresh insight and current marketing knowledge to leverage your best qualities. Stretched for time, ideas, and resources as it Is? This is where digital marketing agencies like us can help.