What Is A Sales Funnel And Why Is It So Important To My Business?
In the marketing business, we are comfortable with clients’ questions when it comes to strategies and services. But, the single most asked question we get is, “What is a Sales Funnel and why is it so important to my business?” While we at The Mauldin Group know it can be a confusing term, it is one that all businesses should know and even more importantly adopt as part of their operations structure. But, really…a funnel? YES, and here is why.
What is a Sales Funnel?
Simply put a sales funnel is a graphical representation of your customers’ journey through the sales process from first touch to hopefully completion of sale. That said, at The Mauldin Group we totally understand why such an easy concept can be so confusing, just doing an Internet search can return results that make even the most seasoned marketer want to pull their hair out. So to start off with, let’s take a look at three of the most common sales funnels out there.
The 7 Step Sales Funnel
The most detailed of the sales funnels, this funnel provides a very detailed view of the customer sales journey. Starting with the commonly agreed on “first-step” being Awareness. This particular funnel reflects customers from becoming aware of your service or product to the end goal of becoming a long-term customer making a Re-Purchase. While this is great representation for a company sales team, the truth is it is a bit adventurous for most businesses, especially those that are small or start-ups.
The 5 Step Sales Funnel
In this sales funnel format, the focus is more directly related to the sales team’s view than the customer’s journey. Using the term of Prospects as the first stage of the funnel and Clients. With this particular funnel there is fairly straightforward path for the sales representative to follow, however does not really capture the flow of a customer.
The Mauldin Group’s CHOICE – The 4 Step Sales Funnel
For The Mauldin Group we have adopted the 4 Step Sales Funnel and this is what we recommend for our clients. Our reasons are fairly clear.
- The 4 Step Sales Funnel is customer journey focused.
- The 4 Step Sales Funnel provides the clearest – most understandable stages for adaption to the widest variety of businesses.
- The 4 Step Sales Funnel can show where a company is missing the target in customer retainment.
- The 4 Step Sales Funnel stages offer flexibility for business owners to modify the stage to whatever is the best marketing strategy, tool or format that works the best with their unique prospects.
So, What Is The 4 Step Sales Funnel?
As we have shared the 4 Step Sales Funnel is TMG’s preferred choice due to its customer journey focus and flexibility of business adaption. But to clearly understand the 4 Step Sales Funnel, you really need to see how each stage works.
First, you need to keep two things in mind.
- The funnel’s design is meant to release fewer customers at the bottom; just like a normal funnel, the top is wide and the bottom is very narrow.
- The sales funnel is actual more designed like a sifter internally. In other words, it relies on the fact that some prospects or “unqualified” leads, are going to fall out of the process. After all, the goal is to create a customer journey that ends with a true customer (buyer or purchaser) for your products or services.
THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY IS IMPORTANT!
The Stages Of The 4 Step Sales Funnel
Stage 1. Awareness – In the first stage of the funnel the prospect (potential customer) has become aware of your business. *For our focus we will talk about the Digital Marketing realm. This can happen in many ways:
- Paid Ads (Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, etc.)
- Organic SEO searches that lead to your website.
- Social Media posts and sharing.
- Content Marketing (blogs, videos, etc.)
- Online Reviews or Referrals.
Essentially something about your business has caught the eye of the website visitor and they wish to check your out further. It must be said that it is very important that before this step truly begins that you should have established your brand and completed creating a Buyer Persona and be using this in the creation of your website, Paid Ads and social media posts.
It is during this stage that it is most apparent and helpful to many businesses to have a CRM-Customer Relationship Management system in place. This will greatly help in both sourcing the qualified leads to reach out to initially but also, automating the process going forward.
Stage 2. Interest – This is where you begin to build a relationship with the prospect. You have their eye but, now you want to keep them interested-entertained. By creating content that addresses their problem or need, you keep the prospect coming back for more. You can entice the prospect by offering a FREE E-book, a consultation, a link to a webinar, even FREE sample of a product. In addition, this is the perfect opportunity to invite them sign up for your newsletter, complete a survey, etc.
Stage 3. Decision – Okay, the courting period is over. Now it’s time for your prospect to make a decision. This is also the stage where you will lose the most prospects; those unqualified leads that are not serious or just checking you out will start to fall out of the funnel. You can support this stage by making an offer for one of your products or services that you know will meet your customer’s needs or solve their problem. To build trust, you may wish to share testimonials and reviews from other customers to make them comfortable about a buying decision.
Stage 4. Action – The time has arrived. The customer is ready to sign your contract of service or push the button to purchase. It is important in this stage to make this as smooth and simple a process as possible for both you and the customer. While contracts sometimes cannot escape being detailed, it is important to make the process as user-friendly as possible. It is also CRUCIAL at this point to make sure that your customer service is superior.
Nothing is more frustrating for our clients than to lose a customer at this stage. Often we will go back and review call records to find that their customer service representatives are providing less than optimal service.
Let The Mauldin Group Help You Build Your 4 Step Sales Funnel
The Mauldin Group can help you create and implement a sales funnel that will address your business needs. We know that it can be a confusing process, so having an expert team ready and waiting to make your sales funnel produce the qualified leads that drive to a Call-To-Action, can be your first step to profitability.