How to Develop a Successful Sales Funnel

How to Develop a Successful Sales Funnel

According to SalesForce, only 21% of leads are actually converted. The other 79% are lost. One reason that might happen is because 95% of salespeople admit most of the leads marketing delivers are not high quality.

However, another likely reason why conversion rates are so low is that many businesses don’t invest enough time and effort into setting up a proper sales funnel. That’s a huge problem because not having one can be detrimental to your company’s growth.

Without well-planned sales funnel marketing, you risk wasting time and money simply because you attract unqualified leads who don’t match your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Or, even worse, you fail to convert qualified leads because you don’t nurture or engage them correctly.

If that’s an issue that concerns you, this article might be of help. We scoured the web to find the most useful tips you should try, and the most important aspects you should focus on when creating a sales funnel:

The Top of Your Sales Funnel

1. Validate the Market First

Whether you’re targeting a newer market or trying to make it on an already established market, you should always validate said market before you start working on your sales funnel to know exactly what kind of leads it will deliver. It will make it much easier for you to accurately predict ROI and revenue growth.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ideas:

  • Use Quora (a Q&A platform) to get an idea of what features potential leads are looking for, and what pain points you need to address. For example, if you’re offering a SaaS spell-checking tool, you can check out questions like “What are the best spell-checking tools?” to get helpful insight straight from your ICPs.
  • If you have competitors targeting the same ICPs with existing products/services, research them to see what they are offering, how they are offering it, and how people are reacting. Check reviews, and look for common complaints to see how you can improve on them with your own product/service.
  • Use a keyword tool like Google’s Keyword Planner or Ahrefs to get an idea just how much demand there is for a search term related to your product/service. If there is a large volume, it’s usually a good sign. Then, use a tool like SpyFu to check competitor landing page URLs to see if they are using any of those keywords and if they’re getting profitable traffic.

2. Make Your Content Extremely Relevant

At this stage of your B2B sales funnel, you need to make sure your content speaks directly to your ICPs, and that it does it in an objective way. It should be more focused on addressing their common pain points and the solutions they need and have an overall more educational tone. It should also contain industry-specific data, trends, and references.

It’s better if the content doesn’t feature a direct CTA for your business, but a sign-up form that asks leads for their contact details in exchange for even more informative top-of-the-funnel content, like:

  • eBooks
  • Infographics
  • Whitepapers
  • Slide decks
  • How-to videos
  • Interactive quizzes or calculators

The type of content you will offer solely depends on your buyer persona and their preferences. For instance, if you are targeting people who don’t have a lot of free time and are visual learners, videos, infographics, and short, colorful PDFs will work much better than white papers.

If possible, try to include thoughts from influencers in your industry. According to Hubspot’s research, that’s exactly what around 96% of B2B buyers want.

3. Don’t Overlook SEM and SMM Ads

PPC ads and social media ads are a great way to reach potential leads and draw them into your sales funnel – especially once you have an MVP.

Search ads, for one, can boost your brand awareness by up to 80% according to Google. As for social media ads, research shows they are extremely likely to reach relevant users, according to what 50% of Gen Z and 42% of Millennials say.

Make sure you do a lot of A/B testing, and that you use direct, relevant copy. You can even use a tool like Adbeat to check out your competitors’ ads, see what approach they are using, and improve on it.

4. Make Your Offer More Risk-Free

One way to increase people’s trust in your product/service, and make them more likely to try it is to back it up with a money-back guarantee. They reduce purchase anxiety and show potential customers you really believe in your product/service.  

Besides a refund policy, you should provide a free trial period too – especially if you operate a SaaS model. It makes leads even more likely to trust you by emphasizing transparency. Data also shows active trial users are 70% more likely to buy the paid service/product when they are contacted by a sales rep.

Just don’t ask people to provide credit card details on sign-up since you stand to generate 2x more paying customers this way.

If you run a retail/eCommerce business, you can entice people with a live or a recorded demo of the product. Also, consider offering free shipping. Even if you can’t afford to offer that all the time, you could offer it to first-time buyers.

The Middle of Your Sales Funnel

1. Offer Content That Boost Your Credibility

At this sales funnel stage, leads are already familiar with your brand, and you’ve educated them on what exact issues they face, and showed them what solutions you can offer. Now is the right time to shift the focus of your content to credibility since you have to start building and nurturing a trust-based relationship with your leads.

You have to directly engage them and show them you are an authority in your field – that you are the expert, you understand the industry perfectly, and that your service/product delivers results. Some great types of content that showcase that include:

  • Case studies (Hubspot’s data shows they help convert the most leads)
  • Customer success stories
  • Webinars (especially product webinars)
  • Datasheets
  • FAQ pages
  • Comparison whitepapers (ideally of competitors)
  • In-depth guides

2. Focus on Lead Engagement

While content is a great way to interact with your leads, your AEs should also directly engage potential clients. One of the best ways to do that is through social media. Posting live videos where leads can ask questions, responding to comments and messages, and even following up on messages can go a long way towards improving your sales funnel conversion rates.

Other ideas your AEs can try out is email communication, Skype calls/conferences, and even dedicated Slack/Discord chats where your leads can get their questions answered and find out more about your product/service, as well as the inner-workings of your business.

Regarding email communication, make sure the emails and follow-ups are consistent. Don’t just send out 2 emails, take a 3-week break, and email leads randomly again. There has to be a flow to the messages so that they seem natural. A drip campaign can work pretty well in this case.

3. Keep Track of the Right Metrics

Focusing on the wrong data can do some serious damage to your sales funnel strategy. To make sure all your lead nurturing and engagement efforts are paying off, you need to monitor metrics that are actionable.

A good starting point is keeping track of metrics that show you if leads are returning. Data that showcases the number of new visitors compared to returning visitors is extremely valuable. Keeping an eye on your social engagements and referral traffic helps too.

It’s also a good idea to monitor the lead-to-opportunity conversion rate, email open and click rates, and the number of inbound calls or messages you get.

Besides that, you should track content consumption metrics too, such as:

  • The average read percentage
  • CTRs
  • Completion rate
  • Heatmaps

That data will show you which type of content is most successful at nurturing and converting leads, meaning it’ll be easier for you to know what content to focus on the most. One tool you can use to get information like that is MonsterInsights.

The Bottom of Your Sales Funnel

1. Use Lead Data to Create Strategic Offers

Sometimes, leads are ready to convert and just need one push in the right direction. The best way to act on that is to use all the data you have gathered about them throughout your sales funnel process, and create strategic, personalized offers.

Keep in mind there isn’t always a one-size-fits-all approach. Yes, qualified leads match your ICP, but that doesn’t mean they’re all one entity that responds alike to the same offer. Generally, you might have to set up a few different deals to cover all segments.

For example, some leads could be more likely to react positively to getting a free extra month if they pick a subscription on the spot, while others might prefer getting access to more relevant content (eBook, whitepaper, video) instead of a discount if they subscribe.

2. Offer a Free Assessment or Consultation

Paired with strategic offers, free assessments or consultations can make your proposal even more irresistible. Leads will get a taste of your expertise and knowledge firsthand, and feel like they’re getting a lot of value from the start.

An assessment or a consultation will also work to your advantage – besides just probably converting leads to customers. For instance, they can help you better know your potential customers and their business, and establish the beginning of a more personal relationship.

And if an assessment/consultation doesn’t work for your business model, you could offer access to a product/service addon for free (if you run a SaaS business) or throw in an extra free, relevant product (if you run a retail/eCommerce business).

3. Entice Leads with Newsletters and Customized Messages

Newsletters are excellent content you can use to drive even more engagement at this stage. They help build more credibility, establish a line of communication that feels natural, act as a “gentle” reminder, and can offer leads value in the form of relevant information.

Try to add a personal touch to all the messages you send to your leads. Don’t use marketing jargon and sales language because it can feel a bit forced and even artificial, making recipients less likely to read. Also, write your messages in a more behavioral way, emphasizing the recipient’s personal wishes and specific data/notes about their business.

One Last Thing to Consider

To give your sales funnel conversion rate an extra boost, you should use retargeting ads as often as possible. Basically, when someone visits your website, a cookie is placed on their device. When they leave, they will see ads for your website/landing pages/services/products on the web.

Let’s face it – even if you create a sales funnel that’s top-notch, with an amazing website and/or landing page, and personalized, highly targeted copy and CTAs, there’s still a chance some leads will bounce off the page. And not because they didn’t like your business proposition. Maybe they weren’t able to engage with your CTAs, register, or send you a message because something else (likely business-related) came up that needed their immediate attention. They might make a mental note to check out your offer later on, but there’s always a risk they will simply forget.

Retargeting ads help you fix situations like that – they put your service/product in front of your potential clients again, reminding them about your solution in a subtle way. Best of all – retargeting works for all sales funnel stages:

  • The Top – Ads with your logo, and tweaked copy that mentions your solutions, free trial/refund policy, or access to content (like eBooks, for instance).
  • The Middle – Ads related to pages on your website leads have last visited, or products/services they last have shown an interest in. The copy should try to answer any objections they might have in their minds.
  • The Bottom – Ads promoting special deals, discounts, newsletters, or any other strategic and enticing offers.

Sales funnel management can seem tricky, but if you use retargeting alongside the pointers we discussed in this article, you’ll be much more likely to develop a sales funnel that delivers qualified leads who are ready to convert.

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