The best product, the best team, the best intentions - these are all important to your small business success. What’s also important is connecting with potential customers. That's where a sales funnel comes into play.
Sales funnels act as structures for turning general internet interest into definitive sales. Used correctly, they can supercharge growth at your startup.
Used correctly, [a sales funnel] can supercharge growth at your startup.
By implementing a sales funnel, you'll expand your reach on a global scale and connect with a wider customer base. You'll also increase your conversion rates, boost your revenue, and collect data you can use to drive your business over time.
What is a sales funnel?
The term "sales funnel" comes with its own built-in metaphor. Imagine a funnel - a wide mouth on top, a narrower one toward the bottom. Pour liquid into the tool and you can direct where it ends up with relative precision.
Now picture this in terms of converting sales. You spark interest in a large number of potential customers. A sales funnel lets you channel that curiosity towards conversion. It's a way of gathering interested parties and turning them into paying clients.
How do you do this? First, you have to find curious shoppers. You do this by creating excellent content specifically designed to attract your ideal customers.
From there, your goal is to direct this vague interest into concrete deals. That takes a thoughtful approach to constructing your sales funnel. With the right steps, you can find people who will benefit from your offerings and steer them toward a revenue-generating transaction.
Why is it important to create a sales funnel?
More than two-thirds of businesses (68%) don't have an effective sales funnel, according to statistics provided by Salesforce.com. If the technique is so effective, why do so few companies use it?
The issue comes down to implementation. The process of creating a sales funnel requires investment and organization.
Startups often lack resources and, by necessity, find themselves operating in an ad hoc manner. Many business leaders don’t have the time to develop a well-ordered sales funnel.
However, it’s important to carve out resources for a sales funnel. Without it, you could be throwing away crucial opportunities. After all, those same Salesforce.com statistics indicate that 79% of marketing leads never get converted to revenue.
To cut into this worrisome number, you need an organized process of transforming interested consumers into dedicated customers. That's the value of a sales funnel.
How to create an effective sales funnel for your small business
The ideal sales funnel will differ from company to company. However, there are some overarching qualities to keep in mind. Here are a few steps you should take to ensure the best sales funnel for your small business:
Step #1: Connect with a Potential Audience
People will rarely find your product through a direct search. More often, a potential customer will stumble onto your website by launching a general investigation into whatever problem they are trying to tackle.
The prevalence of this dynamic is backed up by research. A study conducted by Google indicated that nearly three-quarters (71%) of B2B sales begin with a generic search.
The first step of a sales funnel is to discover this interested audience. Find the people you can help with your offerings and use online content to put yourself on their radars.
In other words, your job is to identify the type of searches and the type of customers that suit your offerings. From there, you can develop the broad end of your sales funnel by targeting these potential clients.
Step #2: Capture Interest
Now that you've identified the type of query to target, you can construct a system for capturing this interest.
Part of this is technical in nature. You'll need to identify keywords and other SEO techniques to draw the optimal audience.
However, a good portion of the project here is also creative. You need to create content that entices the kind of potential buyers who will likely respond to your offerings and to your brand.
Step #3: Conversion
Once you've reached your audience, it's time to direct them to your products and services. This process represents the heart of the sales funnel.
An unorganized, or aggressive sales pitch can backfire. You'll lose all credibility for any future content you create. Instead, you need to provide overall value for your potential clients and gracefully ease them toward a conversion.
As such, you shouldn’t take the idea of a "funnel" literally. You can't count on a gravity-like force to draw your customers inescapably towards a sales conversion. Instead, you should view it more as a conversation. You want to take the opportunity to educate your audience and to demonstrate the worth of your offerings.
Step #4: Follow Up
Not every sale will take place after the first introduction. An oft-quoted statistic says that 80% of sales require five follow-up calls. Your sales funnel should build this expectation into its functioning.
In some cases, you might directly contact potential customers about sales. This can present a good strategy. However, it can become labor-intensive as well.
Even if you keep your relationship online, a good sales funnel should let you build a relationship with the people using your content.
Make sure the broad end of your funnel provides sufficient value. Keep your content informative and engaging. Don’t oversell your product in a way that alienates people. That way, you'll continue to draw an audience to your content even without an immediate sale.
At the same time, gather email addresses and other contact info. Offer recurring content choices, like email newsletters. Promote your content on social media, where you can gain regular followers and get your signal boosted by other users.
Over time, these strategies will help you build trust and a rapport with your audience. At the same time, you'll expand your brand and cement a reputation as a thought leader. These tactics will help you stay in touch with potential clients and create the opportunity for future sales down the line.
Step #5: Use Data to Improve Results over Time
Once you have a functioning sales funnel, you'll get more than sales leads. You'll collect data as well.
Create the functionality necessary to capture this information. It can help you fine-tune your process over time. You'll know when potential buyers abandon the sales pitch and gain insights on how to keep them on track to conversion.
Don't ignore old-fashioned feedback as well. This can come in the form of online surveys or even person-to-person contact with clients. These tidbits will further let you optimize your sales funnel.
Boost your small business with a sales funnel
It's always time to close a deal. A sales funnel lets you transform fuzzy interest into a clear decision. Like a real-life funnel, it works by focusing activity toward a particular goal. It lets you enhance your brand, boost your sales, and deepen the connection you have with your existing client base.
[A sales funnel] works by focusing activity toward a particular goal. It lets you enhance your brand, boost your sales, and deepen the connection you have with your existing client base.
Beyond that, this strategy will give your small business the most important result: higher revenue. By creating a sales funnel, your startup can generate more leads, convert more of those potential customers into actual buyers, and increase your overall sales.