In most industries, getting an individual to purchase a product or service is a multi-stage process.
Among sales and marketing professionals, the process is often described as the “sales funnel.” Through a series of timely offers and incentives from your business, prospective customers come in at the top of the funnel and progress to the bottom, where the sale is clinched.
The sales funnel is a useful metaphor to visualize and manage the sales process. Here are its three main levels.
The beginning of the customer’s journey begins with awareness. The goal is to collect as many leads or attract as many potential customers as possible. To accomplish this, you make marketing content available to the largest audience possible – essentially everyone who might be in your target market. At this stage, you attract people with information that addresses or promises to solve a particular problem or pain point they have. This is sometimes called a “lead magnet.”
Appropriate content to help build awareness includes content marketing (blog posts, e-books, and downloads such as tip sheets or checklists), email marketing, and social media. This content is typically free but sometimes requires the person to share their email to access the information. This is referred to as an “opt-in” and starts your new lead through the sales funnel process.
Consumers are protective of their email addresses, and to get them to share it with you, you have to offer them something of real value. You may change your lead magnet multiple times or offer different ones to entice different segments of your audience.
Getting a customer to take interest in purchasing your products and services can be the most challenging step. Nurturing your leads may take a few days, weeks, or months until the prospect is primed and ready for the final stage. Your customer service will be very important at this stage when customers are asking questions about products and pricing. An unanswered question or comment could lead to a lost sale.
You need to keep the customer’s attention by continuing to offer something of value while introducing your products or services without being too “salesy.” Tone is important here. You’re still manifestly in an educational mode, helping the customer understand the problem he faces, while explaining that your product is a solution. Social media content, e-books, video courses, testimonials, and articles are helpful at this stage.
The final stage of the sales funnel is where your customer makes the decision to buy. To make that happen, you might offer a discount code, a coupon, a free consultation with the purchase of a service package – basically any offer that helps convert potential customers into existing customers. Try to create a sense of urgency by incorporating a time restriction on your offer (e.g., “this week only”), otherwise your lead may forget and fail to act on your offer.
Advertising on social media channels also helps reach customers at the right time, after they have shown interest in your business, by visiting your website or downloading a free course or coupon.
Automate the Sales Funnel
Managing this process can be overwhelming if you have to manually send the right email to every prospect at the appropriate stage of the funnel. Email marketing services like MailChimp, Constant Contact, and AWeber are one way to automate the process. You can use these tools to respond immediately after a new lead enters their address and at every stage thereafter. You can also tailor emails to be sent on special occasions, such as birthdays, and segment customers by using survey questions to send them a more specific set of emails.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What problems are they dealing with at different times of the year? Tailor your social media campaign and email sequences so that they speak directly to their needs, offering solutions at the most opportune time.
For help implementing a sales funnel strategy for your business, contact Excelerate Digital.