August 18, 2020 Last updated August 27th, 2020 769 Reads share

The Beginner’s Guide to Sales Funnel Stages

Image Credit: DepositPhotos

How do you turn prospects into leads? The aim of every marketer and sales rep is to make a prospect take action. It could be signing up, filling out a form, or making a purchase.

This is called a conversion. This process turns prospects into leads and eventually into paying customers.

To help visitors throughout this process, you’ll need a sales funnel, which is essential to employ in any b2c marketing campaign.

An efficient sales funnel is crucial in making money. For one, it’ll give valuable insights into a prospect’s thought process, pain points, and decisions.

But what’s a sales funnel? It’s a visual representation of a traditional sales process from start to finish. It represents the buyer’s journey. From their first contact with your business until they make a purchase. It’s called a funnel because of its conical shape. Also because it “filters” visitors and converts them to customers. Confused? We got you covered.

Here, we’ll explain what a sales funnel is all about. Plus, we’ll talk about the different sales funnel stages to give you a better understanding of how it works.

What Is a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel is a marketing concept that maps out a customer’s journey towards making a purchase.

It’s a set of steps a visitor takes to convert. Imagine a real-life funnel. The top of the funnel has a wide opening that narrows down towards the end. A lot of potential customers will enter your funnel. But each stage of the funnel will push qualified prospects to the next stage. It filters out those who are not fit for your offer.

This means not everyone who enters your sales funnel will become a customer. Each prospect will go through each phase. That’s why the probability of successfully closing a sale will also change. As they go further along the funnel, you’ll learn more information. It’ll become clear whether your products or services are beneficial to them.

Later, we’ll discuss each stage of the funnel. But first, let’s talk about its benefits.

Why Sales Funnels Are Important

As a marketer or sales rep, a sales funnel allows you to visualize your sales process. Think of it as a customer’s roadmap to conversion.

With a visual representation, you can quickly pinpoint at which point you lose prospects. In doing so, you can optimize your sales process.

Use it to see what’s wrong and test out any changes made.

Need more reasons to create a sales funnel?

Attract the right leads: No more blindly selling to anyone who comes along. A well-structured funnel will help you “speak” directly to your ideal customer. You only need to attract customers who’ll most likely become a paying customer.

Focus on the right leads: With a solid funnel, you can gain insights into what leads you should pursue. Each stage of the sales funnel gives you an opportunity to learn more about a prospect.

Sort, evaluate, and rank leads: Not all leads are equal. Some easily convert while others need more persuasion. A sales funnel will help you evaluate whether a lead requires long-term nurturing or if they’re ready to buy.

Forecast sales volume: The aim of every marketing strategy is to earn revenue. That said, a sales funnel gives you insights on how many entered your funnel. And how many are most likely to buy. Use these insights to get a sales projection. As a prospect goes through the funnel, the sales forecast will change as well.

Best of all, a sales funnel doesn’t only provide customer information, but it also helps you build relationships. That’s why you need to understand how each stage of your sales funnel works. In doing so, you’ll make the most out of your marketing strategies.

Ready to learn how a sales funnel works?

Let’s dive in.

The 4 Sales Funnel Stages Explained

From the moment your customers learn about your brand until they buy your products or services, they pass through each stage of the sales funnel.

But for a customer, they’re simply choosing, evaluating, and shopping.

That said, use your target audience perspective to create a sales funnel. Make sure that your sales process is smooth and painless. In doing so, you’ll easily persuade them to keep moving through your sales funnel towards conversion.

To do this, let’s take a closer look at each stage of the sales funnel.

Awareness

Imagine a potential customer who’s looking for answers to a specific problem.

Let’s say, they want to automate their email building list. So they’ll search “the best customer management system”.

During this early stage, your target audience wants to learn more. This is when they become aware of your product or service. They found your website through Google search.

Or they found you through a blog post, a tweet, or a social media post. Here are other ways to raise brand awareness:

● Live events
● Social media advertising
● Media mentions
● Blog content
● Webinars
● Viral campaigns

You need to put your brand out there so it’s discoverable by potential customers.

Interest

When your prospect knows about your product or service, they’ll start researching.

Remember, your prospect is still looking for answers. Aggressively pushing your brand through tacky sales tactics will only turn them off.

In fact, consumers are constantly bombarded with ads. That’s why they try to get away through subscription services or using ad blockers.

As a marketer, you don’t want to scare away your prospect. You need to entice them to learn more about your brand. How?

First, you need to have content that’ll answer their questions. Establish your expertise through valuable and credible content.

Using our previous example, their questions will most likely be:

“How to make the most out of a customer management system?”

Provide them with all the necessary information to make an informed buying decision. Here are a few things you should offer your prospects:

  • Product or service checklists
  • In-depth guide
  • How-to or tutorials relevant to your industry
  • Insightful blog posts or social media posts

During the interest stage, you want your potential customer to either follow you on social media or subscribe to your mailing list.

Prospects are unsure whether your product or service is the answer to their problems. That’s why you need to nurture the customer relationship.

Do this through emails, newsletters, targeted content, and more.

Decision

In this next stage, a prospect is now considered a qualified lead.

Through their interest and the information you’ve gathered, you have established them as qualified leads.

This means they’re most likely going to buy your product. But they’re not ready to buy.

Qualified leads will start comparing your services against other brands, considering their options. To help them make a decision, you should provide content such as:

  • Customer testimonials
  • Reviews and product recommendations
  • Frequently asked question pages
  • Pricing pages Feature comparison between you and your competition
  • Consultations
  • Tutorial webinars

Your lead must feel confident in your offer. Most importantly, they must be firm in their belief that your product is the best fit for their needs.

Lastly, make your offer and add a call to action.

Your offer should be irresistible. For instance, you can offer a 14-day free trial, a discount code, or other special offers.

Action

Congrats, you’ve made it to the bottom of the funnel!

In the action stage, your lead has closed the deal or made a purchase. Your lead is now a paying customer.

But your job doesn’t end here.

You need to nurture your relationship by continually engaging with them. For instance, you can send a follow-up email. Include resources they might need or articles they’ll find useful.

Another option is to send a survey, asking them about the product or service. Was it useful to them? Did they have additional concerns?

Most importantly, your team should be available for support.
Why do you have to go through such lengths?

Because you want to turn one purchase into two, three, and so on. Plus, by establishing rapport, your customers will recommend your brand to others as well.

The goal is to retain customers and reach more prospects.

Remember, your sales funnel will change over time. As you learn more about your customers, your sales funnel will need adjustments. And that’s normal.

One way to measure the success of your sales funnel is to keep track of your conversion rates.

For instance, you can track how many signed up to your email list.

Ready to Start Planning Each Stage of The Sales Funnel?

When creating a sales funnel, you should know your target audience. Understand their pain points and anticipate their questions.

Most importantly, think from their point of view. How are they going through the buying process?

From there, you can start mapping out your sales funnel from start to finish. Here’s a quick recap:

1. You need to provide in-depth information for your prospect in the awareness, interest, and decision stages of the funnel.
2. A clearly laid out sales funnel will help move your prospect through the different stages.
3. Create a structured and well-planned approach to find loopholes in your sales process.

Most importantly, don’t stop at the point of conversion. Continually build a lasting relationship with your customers. In doing so, they’ll keep choosing your products and services. Best of all, they’ll feel encouraged to talk about your brand and recommend you to others as well.

sales funnel concept diagram -DepositPhotos

Jet Saini

Jet Saini

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