The Guide to Sales & Marketing Funnels

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Sales & Marketing Funnels

One of the more clever concepts in modern sales & marketing that was created to help businesses capture leads is called the sales/marketing funnel. If used the right way, the funnel will help automate the marketing process, which will lead to more sales.

At first glance, this seems like a managerial concept only that isn’t applicable to sales. However, the most successful modern salespeople have built funnels for themselves. Prospecting for new business, for those utilizing this concept, has never been easier. The more new prospects/leads you have, the more opportunities to close them.

First of all, what is a funnel?

The funnel itself is a metaphor for the steps that an individual or business take in the sales process. The steps in the funnel are all designed to help turn a cold lead into a new customer: Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Intent, Evaluation, and Purchase.

Here is an illustration of the funnel with all the steps included:

Imagine that the leads “fall” in the funnel. While the lead is passing through the funnel, it is going through several phases that ultimately will guide it to the end – a purchase. Due to this being a great tool to prospect for new leads or prospects, the funnel includes both sales and marketing efforts.

What happens at each step?

Awareness: At the point, a person or a business becomes aware of your product/service/company. They might not know a whole lot about it, but they are aware that it exists. Perhaps they saw an advertisement or someone told them about it. Once they become aware, the sales process officially begins. At this point, you can generate a lot of possible leads at once with blanket advertising strategy.

Interest: After someone becomes aware, the next step is for them to become interested. At this stage, there is zero commitment to buying. Once someone starts to gather information about your product/service/brand, they are at least interested in learning more. This stage is fragile – information is one of the most make-or-break elements of the funnel. Bad reviews or bad information are your enemies – make sure you are 100% committed to service and customer experience to ensure great information.

Consideration: If the person/business likes what they find out after their interest phase, they funnel down into the consideration phase. Here, they are considering purchasing your product/service. At this point, they are thinking about the consequences (both positive and negative) for making a purchase.

Intent: After considering a purchase, the next step would be to have a legitimate intent to purchase. At this stage, the lead is ready to make a purchase with you or your company.

Evaluation: Before the lead actually purchases, they have to do a final evaluation of their needs and wants to see if this purchase aligns with them. They are doing cost/benefit analysis on your product/service and are deciding if the price is fair.

Purchase: After evaluating, the prospect decides to purchase and officially becomes a customer!

A cold lead went inside the funnel and came out a new customer.

How can I use this to increase business/sales?

A funnel can help you in many different ways. If you own a business, you probably need customers to keep the doors open. Creating a sales & marketing funnel is a great way to generate customers. If you own a website or online business, you can use the funnel to completely automate your sales process!

Groupon.com has a fantastic sales & marketing funnel that completely automates their process:

  1. Web traffic (from ads, direct, referrals, affiliates, email list, and more). (Awareness)
  2. You arrive at the homepage. (Interest)
  3. The pop-up on the homepage incentivizes you to give your email address. You get a coupon code for $10 off $25 on your first order just for signing up. (Consideration)
  4. From there, you can browse and shop for services. (Intent)
  5. Internal homepage view offer details. (Evaluation)
  6. Purchase form. (Purchase)

Let’s say you are an individual salesperson and want to build your own funnel to generate more prospects. Adhering to the steps, your funnel might look something like this:

  1. Random person hears about you from a satisfied customer. (Awareness)
  2. The cold lead gathers more information about your product/service.  (Interest)
  3. The cold lead visits your website/company website for more information. (Consideration)
  4. The lead calls you or requests an appointment with you. (Intent)
  5. The prospect evaluates a purchase while you present your sales pitch. (Evaluation)
  6. The new customer agrees to buy from you. (Purchase)

Taking this to the next level, you can even use the funnel in your sales pitch!

  • Introduce your product/service to the prospect. (Awareness)
  • Ask prospect questions to uncover a need/want that this will fix.  (Interest)
  • Pitch the features, advantages, and benefits. (Consideration)
  • Explain that the product will fit their needs perfectly. (Intent)
  • Use a closing strategy and attempt to close the prospect. Handle objections if they come up. (Evaluation)
  • The new customer agrees to buy from you. (Purchase)

In all scenarios, we took a cold lead and turned them into a new customer using a funnel system designed to do so.

Is it possible to have a broken funnel?

Yes, it is entirely possible to have a broken funnel. When leads start to slip through your funnel somewhere in the middle, you have a funnel leak.

Luckily, if you are constantly evaluating your funnel and checking for optimum performance, a leak should be quickly detected and easily fixed. For example, if you are a website owner and are capturing a lot of leads at the awareness and interest stages, but losing a lot at the consideration phase, it means that you have a leak here (possibly with your homepage/signup form). Another example: if you are an individual in the sales process and you lose a lot of people at the evaluation phase, it means that you have to strengthen your closing methods.

The funnel is a great way to visually represent the phases that prospects go through to become customers. It’s important to understand these phases so that you can craft your own successful sales funnel based on your individual needs.

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Author: Jason Karaman

Hello! I’m a marketing, sales, and customer service author, blogger and doer. I live in the South Carolina Lowcountry with my wife. I enjoy reading, writing, hiking, kayaking, and all things beach. For media inquiries, send an email to JasonKaraman@ExpertCaller.com

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