• June 23, 2023
  • By Jeff Winters, CRO, Abstrakt Marketing Group

4 Strategies for Owning the Entire Sales Funnel, From Creation to Close

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Sales isn’t just a job. It’s an occupation that, as pointed out by The Wall Street Journal, can be incredibly lucrative. Of course, the Journal followed up by saying that a lot of would-be salespeople shy away from selling due to misunderstandings about the career path. What far too many outside the sales world don’t understand is that as long as you have a solid sales funnel, you can own the whole process from creation to close.

Having a well-defined sales funnel allows marketing and sales teams to come together and focus their efforts on the most effective tactics. Once deployed, those tactics will target high-quality and highly qualified leads, as well as drive faster conversions. It’s much easier to show prospects the value of what you’re selling if you have a definitive way to move them through the purchasing process that’s based on their needs and behaviors.

Unfortunately, most companies don’t follow sales funnel best practices. Consequently, they end up with low conversion rates, low customer retention rates, low customer lifetime value, high customer acquisition costs, and (no surprise) decreased profits.

And those are just some of the downfalls. Others include higher and higher levels of customer frustration and confusion.

How to Make Your Sales Funnel Robust and Resilient

Together, all the levels of the sales funnel are essential. Ideally, they’ll work in tandem to net you the conversions you need to not just hit your target sales goals but—if all goes well—exceed them.

1. Establish each target audience persona. It is a mistake to flesh out a sales funnel if you don’t know who you’re talking to. You must have deep, specific knowledge of your target audience. This means knowing not just who they are but what they want and need.

There are a couple of ways to create accurate buyer personas. For startups and existing businesses, researching potential buyers can work well. However, existing businesses have another tool to use: Their marketers and sellers can dig into their current customer information. Current buyers are a terrific source of information for who would be most likely to buy something. Remember that you might have a few types of customers and not just one. Therefore, you may need to create multiple unique journeys. Still, don’t overdo it or go overboard. Consolidate wherever you can so you’re not inundated with a plethora of nuanced buyer personas.

The clearer your understanding of your customers, the clearer you can make their customer journey through your sales funnel. Too often, even seasoned marketers overlook the need to keep personas in mind when developing sales funnel journeys. Not only does that limit the effectiveness of the sales funnel, but it decreases the odds of getting better ROI and higher conversions.

2. Develop some engaging offers. What’s hurting 26 percent of salespeople, according to self-reported feedback in response to a recent HubSpot survey? They just aren’t able to stand out from the rest of the pack. Developing engaging, irresistible offers can change all that.

When a lead is confronted with an offer that simply hits all the right notes, reluctance to buy just seems to melt away. Offers can be anything from discounts and free trials to complimentary shipping and valuable (in the lead’s mind, not the salesperson’s or marketer’s) add-ons. The goal is to present an incentive that causes the customer to move downward into the sales funnel rather than fall out of it.

How do you know which offers are most engaging? You’re going to have to run tests. Just make sure to follow the rule of only testing two things at a time. If you have too many variables, you’ll never know how to connect cause with effect. In contrast, if you offer one group of mid-funnel leads a limited-time 10 percent coupon and another group of mid-funnel leads a limited-time extra gift, you can see which incentive produces higher engagement rates.

3. Pay attention to the quality of your content. Nothing tanks a good sales funnel customer journey faster than lousy copywriting. Your content needs to be persuasive but not pushy. It also needs to be clear and concise. You’ll certainly want to pepper it with SEO-rich keywords, but don’t lose sight of the human over the machine. Ideally, your content should speak to both people and algorithms.

Pay just as much attention to your social media posts and copy or video for other channels, like all those upsell, cross-sell, and retention email marketing drip campaign pieces. Social media is a terrific way to stay in front of the target audiences you defined in step one. According to statistics collected by HubSpot, 78 percent of salespeople who actively work on their social selling (e.g., engaging with prospects and customers on social media) outshine their counterparts who shy away from being socially visible.

No matter what content goes out under your company name, be certain it has a purpose and a polish. There’s no reason to put out flawed or superfluous copy at a time when you have so many ways to edit, revise, and hone your message.

4. Lean into automation. You aren’t a salesperson or marketer 24/7/365. (At least, you shouldn’t be.) You deserve to have an outside life. The problem is that your business may run around the clock. To keep your sales funnel going strong while you’re away, look for places where you can automate your workflows.

Streamlining your sales process with a little help from automated systems keeps leads from sneaking out the back door. And you’ll probably be amazed at all the aspects of your sales funnel customer journey you can automate.

For example, you can arrange your emails to go out at a predictable cadence. The emails can be personalized, which McKinsey & Co. notes that 71 percent of consumers prefer. However, you won’t have to babysit your software. As long as you have terrific content that can be arranged to automatically deploy, you’ll be golden.

Too many people these days have fallen into the erroneous belief that sales is a job that’s practically impossible to do well. That’s far from the case, especially when you have a well-engineered sales funnel. When your funnel is built for wins, you have nothing to lose by getting into the world of selling.

Jeff Winters is founder and CEO of Sapper Consulting, which replaces cold calling for its clients. It’s cooler than it sounds.

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