Do you know what a sales funnel is and how to build a sales funnel for your company? Learn here how to use this very important strategy in Inbound Marketing.
The sales funnel is one of the primary concepts for applying Inbound Marketing and increasing your company’s business results.
Without a well-defined and monitored funnel, you’re probably losing customers.
Therefore, we have prepared this guide to explain to you:
- What is a sales funnel?
- How does it work?
- What are your steps?
- How is a sales funnel in practice?
- How important is the sales funnel?
- What are the benefits of a sales funnel?
- How to develop your sales funnel?
- What are the most common mistakes when building a sales funnel?
We’ll also give you valuable tips for creating content for each step of the funnel.
So, you can guarantee that your Digital Marketing strategy is really efficient and that it will make you thrive in a market as competitive and dynamic as the current one.
What is a Sales Funnel?
The sales funnel, also called a pipeline, is a strategic model that shows the journey of the customer from the first contact with your company until the sale is concluded – in some cases, beyond it.
In other words, it is a representation of the path the customer takes until closing the purchase.
A process that consists in driving or accompanying your customer from the moment he becomes aware of a solution sold by your company until the closing of the deal .
How Does The Sales Funnel Work?
Buying is not a homogeneous process, but it occurs in stages. That’s because, during their journey, the customer goes through several moments that reveal how close he really is to buying.
We have the moment when he hears about his solution for the first time, the research he does on the item in question, the purchase itself, the recommendation he gives after using the product …
A customer who has just discovered your product, for example, is less ready to buy than one who has already read the reviews on your site.
So, to determine what the customer’s maturity level is in relation to the purchase decision, we divide these moments into parts and thus define the stages of the sales funnel.
Isn’t that clear? Smoothly. Let’s explain the sales funnel steps now, one by one.
What Are The Steps In The Sales Funnel?
The sales funnel is divided into three stages: top, middle and bottom. They are also known by the acronyms ToFu (Top of the Funnel), MoFu (Middle of the Funnel) and BoFu (Bottom of the Funnel).
Funnel Top – Learning and Discovery
The top (ToFu) is known as the stage of consciousness , because until now the person was indifferent to his own need or problem.
In other words, it did not seek any product or service because it was unaware that it had this demand. However, when she has the first contact with you, she understands that there is this gap and will then study about it.
This is the time to put yourself as an expert.
Provide materials that help your visitor to diagnose the problem and fully understand it! So, any doubt he has on the subject, will seek you out.
At this stage, we are usually dealing with visitors, people who came to your site in some way, but about which you still have no information.
So, when it comes to educating her, offer rich materials in an attempt to convert them into leads and get them in the funnel.
Middle of the Funnel – Recognizing the problem and considering the solution
The milestone that defines the transition from the first stage to the second is the recognition of the problem.
The visitor has read a lot about the subject and admitted that he really has a demand. Now he is looking for ways to remedy it and it is his role to come up with tips and techniques that can help him.
In this step, we usually deal with leads , people who have already interacted with your content and provided basic contact information in exchange for access to some content.
As the lead does not know how to solve his problem, he considers several solutions, including the purchase of a service. However, you have doubts if this is really the right option for you.
Be honest: tell me exactly when to buy a product and present alternatives to it besides buying. You can offer new pieces of content to qualify and get more information about it.
Making it clear that your goal is to help him and not sell to him at all costs, you establish a relationship of trust that will be beneficial when the lead is already qualified and can move on to the next step.
Funnel Bottom – The Purchase Decision
Finally, at the bottom of the funnel (BoFu) we are dealing with MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) – leads that have gone through the entire education process and that Marketing has classified as ready to receive contact from a salesperson.
An MQL knows that it has a problem that it will not be able to solve on its own and has already realized that it will need to hire a service.
If you have followed the process correctly so far, you are already known as a market reference and someone she can trust to negotiate.
So, it’s time to give that little push and show that you are the right partner for her!
After some comparisons with other companies, MQL will choose which it believes to be the best alternative and will close the sales funnel, making the purchase and finally becoming a customer.
It is worth remembering that some companies also include a fourth stage: after-sales. This step is focused on retaining the new customer and transforming them into a promoter of your brand.
In that case, it’s up to you to include it or not, okay? (We recommend that you do.)
How Is A Sales Funnel In Practice?
We have already explained how a sales funnel and all its steps work, but understanding this concept is very easy with an example, right?
So, imagine that your business is selling car tires and that you have a website that talks about car care.
Back at ToFu (top of the funnel), a prospective customer was researching tires on the internet and found this blog .
He begins to read an article that shows the five most frequent tire problems and realizes that his situation is familiar with problem number three, of wear.
Following the guidelines in his article, he checks his car tires and realizes that yes, they are worn out. That is, he becomes aware of his problem.
Then, in MoFu (middle of the funnel), the prospective customer searches your website for ways to repair a worn tire.
Searching for solutions to his problem , he considers making several repairs to the tires, but finally admits that his tires already need replacement. In short: he needs to make a purchase decision.
At BoFu (bottom of the funnel), the future customer compares prices and reviews from various stores. After all, tires are expensive, and he wants to make sure he’s buying something of quality.
As he is already familiar with his company, he also searches for new tires on his website and discovers a section with customer testimonials. Since most testimonials are positive, he decides to make the purchase.
Finally, after the purchase the new customer receives via e-mail an ebook with tips for taking care of the new tires. He realizes that you are really careful with your customers and is concerned with helping you maintain your new tires for a long time.
Happy with the experience, he leaves a positive evaluation in the testimonials section and becomes a promoter of his store.
So, was it clear how a sales funnel works?
Now that you understand this concept, you probably know how essential a well-built sales funnel is for your business.
But, if you’re still not convinced of the benefits of the funnel for your marketing and sales strategy , rest assured. We will now explain how these concepts can directly affect your results.
How Important Is The Sales Funnel?
Even with the growth of the Inbound methodology, many professionals today still think: “I follow my clients daily, I have a contact list with the addresses of the leads and everything, I post a lot on social networks and I know the monthly number of visitors to my website” .
Cool, it’s important to do that too! But, if you think that you will be able to increase your sales volume, I am sorry to say that you are very wrong.
You see, every day, people are more demanding. They demand the best possible services and products, quality service and need service providers that really suit their needs.
Tracking customers and monitoring traffic is important, but you need to go further and find out the real reasons why your customers choose (or not) for your company.
How do they get to you? What do they research about your solution? What questions do you have at the time of purchase?
To discover all of this, it is essential that you know the best marketing and sales techniques and build a funnel focused on attracting more people and turning them into real buyers.
In addition, the benefits of having a well-designed sales funnel go far beyond knowing about your customer’s journey. Let’s talk about them now.
What Are The Benefits Of A Sales Funnel?
The positive points of the sales funnel are many! But in this guide, we’ll mention the top five:
1 – Results Predictability
Since each step of the sales funnel depends on the performance of the previous step, you know exactly how many people need ToFu to generate X customers at the end of the process.
By monitoring your team’s numbers, you can predict whether the marketing and sales sectors will be able to meet the goal and how long it takes to reach it.
2 – Higher Productivity
With a well-structured sales funnel, we are able to measure the productivity of salespeople and marketing analysts. You can find out where they have the most difficulties and track the results obtained by each.
When employees know that work is being monitored and that fundamental data is identified, the tendency is for them to do more to deliver better results.
3 – Management Optimization
The funnel is designed to segment and standardize the sales cycle, making the analysis of each stage of this process more objective and agile.
As a result, the management team gains more focus and assertiveness, ensuring that the team’s objectives directly contribute to the growth of the business.
4 – Better Use Of Opportunities
With a sales funnel in place, you can track the status of each sale in real time. That is, the chances that each business has to be completed.
Therefore, it becomes easier to apply strategies to increase the possibility of closing the deal.
5 – Responses for Product Development
Throughout the relationship with customers , you will have valuable information that points out new ways to improve the services or products developed by your organization.
By identifying these demands, your company is able to provide its customers with something more, that is, it can go beyond expectations.
Thus, you have greater customer loyalty and will be able to attract new ones, increasing your sales volume.
How To Build A Sales Funnel?
Now that you have deepened your knowledge of the sales funnel, how about we go to practice?
You can build a sales funnel for your company in three steps:
1 – Mapping The Journey
To monitor and optimize your customer’s purchase journey, you first need to know it, right?
If your company already has a considerable number of customers, you can map the journey with a persona survey – a series of questions aimed at the best customers in an organization that aims to define the profile of the ideal customer, their doubts and ambitions, and the reasons why you buy something.
For those just starting out, the best way to do this is to talk to as many customers as possible to find out how they got to you, what made them close the deal and everything.
2 – Definition Of Milestones And Stages
Knowing your customer’s purchase journey, you need to go beyond the stages of awareness, consideration and decision and implement some milestones – milestones that show that a customer has matured and is a little more educated about your product or solution.
Milestones are important for knowing exactly when the customer has entered a new stage of the funnel and using the right tools to convince them to move on to the next stage as quickly as possible.
3 – SLA Between Sales And Marketing
Finally, when you already have the sales funnel structured, you need to make an agreement between the Sales and Marketing teams to define exactly how they can help each other and what the deliveries will be for each other.
It is time to take the opposite path of your funnel and ask:
- How many MQLs does Marketing need to deliver in order for Sales to beat the target of the month?
- To have these MQLs, how many leads do I need to generate?
- And, to get these leads, how many visitors are needed?
- What is the quality of the MQLs that are coming?
- How are these MQLs being worked on by salespeople?
Constantly doing vendarketing is essential to have a healthy sales funnel, because in the event of failures in the process, all business results of the company will be compromised.
What is the appropriate content for each stage of the funnel?
In addition to the three steps mentioned above, a fundamental part of implementing a sales funnel in your company is creating a content strategy that is appropriate for each stage.
As mentioned, the sales funnel has 3 different moments. So forget the idea of producing the same type of content for each stage of the funnel.
The content must be differentiated for each phase and you must provide enough information for the customer to proceed until reaching the last stage of your funnel, okay?
Top Funnel Content
Only a percentage of the people who enter your sales funnel make it all the way and become a customer. Therefore, you need a good job of attraction to generate a lot of volume in ToFu.
The content at the top of the funnel should aim to make your audience discover that they have a problem that needs to be solved.
Publications should be easily accessible, as the public in the first stage is large and does not have as much knowledge about your organization’s solution.
Likewise, all content must be easy to understand and provide information necessary for the visitor to be curious and become a lead.
The blog post is, in most cases, the first contact of the client on a certain topic that, potentially, can become a solution to their demands.
The texts must be easily accessible to any visitor and the information contained therein should arouse the reader’s curiosity to know more about the subject.
Infographics are excellent traffic acquisition tools because they convey important information quickly and objectively.
Lists and data on a given subject make great infographics. But make sure that the information is succinct and really looks good in the visual format.
Podcasts are informational programs in the audio or video format distributed through RSS feeds.
They are a great way to drive traffic to your site and increase the user’s time spent as they stay on the page to listen to the program.
As not everyone has time to read your content, it is also worth offering the option of listening to your blog posts.
Newsletters are emails that you send to your contact base to keep them updated on news.
As they enable direct communication with the customer on a regular and periodic basis, you can send specific content according to the interests of your base.
In this way, you make the consumer more interested in your content and move quickly to the next step of the funnel.
Social Media Posts
The funnel top idea is to increase visitor traffic. Therefore, social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc., are great opportunities to arouse the curiosity of potential customers.
Use images, gifs and other resources to get users’ attention, and make calls to your main blog posts.
Funnel Medium Content
The content for the middle of the funnel should be even more informative, presenting solutions for your persona, but without advertising your organization.
An important tip in this second stage is to capture as much customer data as possible, as this is where a closer relationship with the potential consumer begins and the content should clarify all your doubts.
Since you now have visitors who can become real buyers, you can get this information by limiting content consumption.
For example, you can ask the visitor to fill out a form to access or download some type of material.
Blog texts can also be used in the middle of the funnel. However, the content must be focused on an audience that already has basic knowledge on the subject.
Invest in content with denser data, rich in details and information about a certain problem and how to solve it.
The eBook , also called an electronic book, can be used to talk about deeper issues , which blog posts cannot fully clarify.
In addition, he is a great opportunity to guide the visitor through his processes, preparing him for purchase. You can offer complete guides on your segment, manuals that teach you how to solve a problem step by step, among other ideas.
The great advantage of this content is that it can be made available and downloaded in PDF format, as long as the visitor provides his contact details. This makes it easier to approach the bottom of the sales funnel. You may also be interested in these other content!
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👉 Free eBook: All you need to know about Affiliate Marketing!
At The Bottom Of The Funnel
In the last stage of the funnel, the company should position itself as the best option in the market, as the consumer, of course, has already probed other companies.
Therefore, the ideal is to have all the tools to solve all the doubts of the buyer and facilitate the process of making the purchase. For this, we use:
In this type of content, you take stories from customers who have already purchased your product or service and tell the results obtained, details of the strategy and much more.
Talk about the relevant points of the solution you proposed and how the company changed the life of this client, for example.
The cases have a considerable weight when the buyer chooses which company to invest. So, listen to your current customers and publicize your positive results in order to show how your company can bring those same results to potential customers.
The moment the customer chooses to hire the services or purchase the products of your company, you can guide him through the sales Webinars.
Webinars and Demos
Webinars are video presentations that aim to teach something or answer questions about a particular subject.
You can use them at any stage of the funnel, as long as the content matches the lead’s maturity. In the case of BoFu, it is worth talking about the step by step of buying your product or answering the most frequent questions.
In the case of demos (product demonstration videos), webinars are very important, because on video it is possible to show each step to effect the sale.
As you saw, it is possible to create content for any moment of the journey. However, you need to be careful when putting your sales funnel into practice.
What Are The Most Common Mistakes When Building A Sales Funnel?
Before you promise results for your company based on the sales funnel, make sure that you really know the concept and don’t make the following mistakes:
Believe That Every Visitor Will Be A Customer
When thinking of the funnel in its geometric shape, many believe that all visitors to your website will become real customers.
Unfortunately, this is not correct! It is very common for people to enter your site and read the content produced by you without leaving any contact for return.
Having a high number of visitors shows that your website is actually attracting traffic. But, if many of those visitors don’t become leads, you need to work on your conversion better.
That’s why it’s so important to follow all the steps in your sales funnel, okay?
To Neglect The Steps And Focus Only On The Final Result
Many people look at the sales funnel simply to know the percentage of visitors who ultimately become buyers.
Be careful, the funnel steps do not exist for nothing!
For your strategy to work efficiently, you need to think about actions and develop appropriate content for each stage of the sales process.
Look very carefully at the numbers of each stage, looking for optimization opportunities and listen well to your customers to be able to generate the necessary improvements to increase your sales volume and get to know each part of the pipeline.
In this post we show you how the sales funnel is a process that follows the entire sales cycle and allows you to identify what happens at each stage.
As you saw, the funnel is very important in attracting potential customers and turning them into real buyers.
To develop the sales funnel, never forget to consider the purposes of the top, middle and bottom of the funnel, okay?
Each layer of the funnel is essential to close the sale and, therefore, the information has to satisfy each lead that is in the funnel.
Make good use of each idea provided here and look for new ways to attract more customers and optimize the volume of completed business. By following the sales funnel content development tips, you’re sure to get better conversion results.
Finally, to be able to develop an impeccable funnel for your business, take advantage and get to know our free sales funnel model!