Taking the time to treat your prospect right is the difference between an engaged customer and one who has left never to return.
A customer funnel is essentially a representation of the different stages a potential buyer goes through in their mindset. The goal is to get a customer from one stage to the next, where they are ultimately a paying customer.
How you treat your prospect at each step of their transformation process will largely determine how effective your sales funnel is and whether or not someone becomes a paying client. The idea behind any sales funnel isn’t just about making more sales.
Marketing Funnel B2B: Building a better sales process
You know how important it is to have a great B2B marketing funnel. If it’s well-structured, it facilitates B2B lead generation and improves the steps in the B2B sales process. Despite that, 68% of businesses don’t understand how their B2B sales funnel works. How about you – did you analyze your funnel correctly?
Now that you’ve decided to improve your sales process, the first step is to identify all of the steps and obstacles in your current system.
Get a whiteboard or some paper and make a list of every possible step you’re currently taking with each potential customer.
Start by writing down what needs to happen before someone becomes a customer, then write about how they interact with the company once they become one. Remember, this isn’t going to be perfect! You just want an idea of what needs work so we can come up with solutions together.
So How Should You Analyze Your B2B Marketing Funnel?
When you’re looking at your marketing funnel, it’s important to ask yourself one question: “What do my customers want?” This is a difficult question to answer.
Some people might be content with the product they are currently using or with the service that they are paying for. Others may want cheaper prices, better quality, more convenience, novel features or all of these things!
It’s important not only to know what your customers want but also how much this affects their decision-making process and willingness to invest in your product/service. In other words – does price matter? Then think about how you can use pricing as a problem solving tool.
Is it so important to talk about each stage separately? In reality, the funnel is all the steps that prospects take to become a customer.
B2B Sales Funnel Stages
Most business owners want to improve their conversion rates at each stage, which is only possible if they improve their sales management. We’ve used the experience of Brightest Minds’ top experts to show you how to improve the funnel’s performance.
There are four stages in the B2B Marketing Funnel:
- Desire, and
A business should not focus all of its energy on one stage because it will leave potential customers stuck at another stage. The best marketing strategy is to spread out efforts so that you can reach everyone who needs your product or service.
You can analyze its elements to find the parts that don’t work so long as it shows your leads where they go. Say, if you see a lot of website visitors dropping out at a certain point, it’s time to optimize it. Follow this guide to better understand your customer’s journey and improve it.
Let’s start with the funnel’s core functions:
- – generating new prospects;
- – lead nurturing, qualification, and retention;
- – booking the first meeting;
- – closing the deal.
It could have three or more stages, depending on how many functions it performs. The more advanced a website is, the better chance it has of converting a random visitor into a paying customer.
One-size-fits-all isn’t effective when it comes to building buyer journeys. However, the B2B sales funnel stages are permanent (the only thing you can change is how many steps you have).
Your Website Is Your First Line of Defense
You can tell a lot about your potential customers from their first visit to your website – what interested them, when, and where they left. Here are some tips on how to gather the data that will help you improve it.
The best examples of landing pages at every stage of the B2B sales funnel:
- – SnapEngage Real-time messaging plugin increases landing page conversion by 12% and reduces abandonment.
- – Hotjar Website heatmapping tool to view what website visitors are doing – tool shows where the user clicks, hovers, scrolls, and more.
- – Convertify A/B testing software to compare custom website elements side-by-side – helps to increase conversion by 88%.
- – ClickTale Website heatmapping tool to view what website visitors are doing, includes data from user surveys.
- – Crazy Egg Website heatmapping tool to view what website visitors are doing, records the activities of each visitor on a page.
1. Prospecting :
The first stage in the B2B sales funnel is prospecting. Prospecting is the process of finding potential customers for a product or service. This is done by talking to people and asking them what they need, and how your company can meet their needs.
You’ll want to start with people who are likely to be interested in your products or services.
2. Lead Nurturing :
Lead nurturing is the process of keeping your prospects engaged with your company. Provide them with useful content, and keep them updated on any new products.
The key to great lead nurturing is to provide the right content at critical points in time based on what stage they are currently in their buying process.
You can increase the number of qualified leads generated by your company, by executing a well-planned, finely tuned marketing strategy that guides potential customers along each step in their journey; from problem recognition through identification of a specific solution and decision making leading up to close.
The purpose of qualifying leads is to determine whether they have an interest in your product or not. Qualified leads are the lifeblood of a customer final. Most sales reps will want to speak with qualified leads so that they don’t waste their time.
Although this may seem like a simple step, it’s one of the most important phases in your sales funnel.
Good sales teams understand that the more qualified leads they get into the sales pipeline the more they can convert prospects to existing customers.
Do you qualify their lead with just one question? That’s actually not recommended because people speak in different voices based on who they are and what they’re about.
It’s important to identify prospects that match your target market profile by asking them specific questions – who is the target audience, where do they shop, what problem are you solving?
If their answers don’t align with what you need for your business then it might be time to move on.
Things you need to consider when closing a lead
- – Don’t let the decision makers slip away!
- – Gain trust with a two-step process
- – Make sure to get contact information at the end
- – You need to establish that this is just one piece of your sales funnel.
- – The qualification and closing are the final step in this process
5. Post-Sales Support:
Many companies have trouble with the process of post-sales support.
Sales professionals need to be able to handle the objections and be prepared with good sales pitches.
An effective sales funnel depends on the sales representative, sales reps need to know how to handle prospective customers in conversation in a way that makes them feel that the brand cares about their needs at the level of their awareness stage.
After prospects say “yes” to a sale, many of them lose interest and fail to follow through on their commitment for one reason or another.
This is commonly called buyer’s remorse that arises after they close the deal – it refers to that feeling as soon as people walk away from a purchase inside an electronics store, knowing there’s no turning back even if they want a refund.
In these cases, you are still required to offer assistance as part of your agreement, but it seems like no matter what you do looking at that sour face can get old fast.
Types of Sales Funnels
Once upon a time, businesses just needed one sales funnel because it was an easy process:
Salesperson talked to customer → purchase.
Nowadays, the sale funnel is complex and includes five stages: prospecting, lead nurturing, qualifying leads, closing prospects (generating a sale), and post-sales support.
When prospects are at the evaluation stage your sales cycle needs to address their pain point because a potential customer won’t jump on a discovery call with a sales rep if they don’t feel that the company understands their pain.
That’s why having the proper sales funnel model has to court the interest stage in terms of its operational process to generate leads.
The classic funnel
The most common sales funnel is the classic sales funnel. Prospects are identified and contacted, then leads are nurtured and qualified.
A conversion is made when a prospect becomes a qualified lead such as by making an online purchase or by visiting your physical location for a consultation. The post-sale support consists of providing service to those who have already purchased your product or service.
Three-step sales funnels
Another type of sales funnel that companies like to use is the three-step one. In this scenario, prospects are brought in through marketing campaigns, which result in qualified leads being generated through event registration and newsletter subscriptions
Steps of B2B Sales Process
The sales process for B2B customers is a bit more complex because the needs of these stakeholders vary.
What they’re looking for in your product or service will influence how you approach the sale: some value features; others prefer to focus on how it fits with their goals and vision.
Companies like SaaSOptics have crafted their marketing campaigns to highlight different aspects of their products and services that they know will appeal to business persons.
1: Marketing Campaigns–To bring potential leads into the funnel, we recommend marketing campaigns tailored towards specific segments such as schools, event planners, plumbers etc., which generate qualified leads through email subscription, online registrations and link clicking
2: Lead Nurturing & Qualifying–For businesses who want to nurture their leads, there are multiple strategies that can be employed. The most common is the drip email campaign which delivers pieces of information at a set pace over time and provides reasons to keep reading.
An alternative is to use live chat via a webinar platform, like SaaSOptics offers, because it’s more interactive than email.
3: Closing–Converting leads into customers is the last part of this process. It requires personalizing your sales pitch for each customer and making sure that they can see how your product or service will work for them.
The Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey in business-to-business is a little different than the one we’ve been exploring so far. To determine how to acquire new customers, consider what stage of the marketing funnel you want them to be at when they’re ready to buy.
Stage 1: Awareness
Develop a strategy for attracting potential leads through LinkedIn, search engine optimization (SEO), or social media advertising and carefully select the most relevant keywords for your industry.
Stage 2: Interest
Attracting new leads is the first stage of the sales funnel. Determining how to do this entails choosing keywords that specifically appeal to your audience and using marketing campaigns in those channels (e.g. search engine, social media etc.).
Interest–For businesses who want to nurture their leads, there are multiple strategies that can be employed. The most common is the drip email campaign which delivers pieces of information at a set pace over time and provides reasons to keep reading.
It is a good idea to have multiple drip campaigns going at once so that your audience will not get tired of one single topic.
A lead’s level of interest in the product or service determines how much time he spends researching it. Customers who already know about you tend to spend less time; those who need more convincing take longer (although they could stop researching before buying). An effective way
Stage 3: Consideration
To make it to the consideration stage, leads need more information about your product or service and its benefits. Prepare a landing page with these points emphasized as well as other content that would be helpful for those considering your brand.
Research/evaluation The next stage in the sales funnel involves the customer’s evaluation and research, looking for information, talking with colleagues and asking questions to determine if they are actually interested. This can happen through email queries or more direct approaches such as phone calls. Online reviews, competitor sites, and general background research also play into this phase.
Actions for the Consideration stage:
I) Segment your audience using lead nurturing strategies by identifying their pain points.
II) Identify the value proposition that would lead to closing a deal C) If you are unfamiliar with your target audience’s pain points, there are several ways to learn about them.
iii) Use surveys and ask questions in order to discover what issues they are facing.
ii) Interviews–talking directly with people who have previously expressed an interest in your product or service in order to understand their needs better.
iv) Join forums on LinkedIn by joining groups related to your niche and engaging in relevant conversations or threads.
Stage 5: Closed Sales
Once you’ve attracted and qualified leads, it’s time for them to be converted into customers. In order for this process to happen smoothly, you’ll need to:
A) Craft a compelling value proposition
B) Adapt your sales tactics to your target audience
Stage 6: Referrals
Referrals are the best marketing because people love to tell their friends about new businesses and products they like.
Not only does this help you as a business owner get your name out there, but it also makes people happy if they can share something with their friends that they have enjoyed.
One of the ways I make referrals work for me is by telling my clients how important word-of-mouth advertising is to my business.
When someone likes your service enough that he or she wants to refer you to a friend, why not make sure that person has everything he needs?
A referral is someone who can spread the word about your company and help you acquire new customers with referrals. With this stage, it becomes easier for businesses to build relationships outside of specific industries through trade associations or other organizations.
Prepare an incentive so that those who share your brand with friends or colleagues will be motivated to do so.
Accordingly, a sales strategy should focus on one of these stages and target the audience accordingly. For example, if you’re trying to reach individuals at stage 1 (awareness), create marketing campaigns designed to catch their attention and turn them into leads.
If you’re trying to reach individuals at stage 5 (closed sales), create a process that’s straightforward, effective, and has proven to work time and time again.
Regardless of your product or service, there are always ways to tailor each message for each target audience.
Tailoring Your Value Proposition for Different Buyer Personas
Even if you’ve customized your product or service, it’s important that your marketing message and delivery is tailored for the different personas entering at specific stages of interest. For example, even if most prospects would be interested in a free trial offer with no strings attached, it won’t appeal to everyone so targeted campaigns should be developed accordingly. (i.e. one focused on IT managers vs. one focused on individual consumers).
As you create content for each persona make sure that they can see how they can benefit from your product or service. Show how it will solve their pains and make them more productive so they don’t have to waste time thinking about what route to take.
If you’re not sure whether your value proposition would be appealing to a specific persona, focus on the following aspects:
- What experience are they looking for?
- How would you find a business that’s a good fit?
- What pain points do your customers have?
Explore ways in which meet those needs would improve relationships with your clients. (i.e. You can bring me valuable insights that I cannot get from other providers)
Come on now, let’s figure out what you need to do to skyrocket your sales.
Step 1: Learn Who Your Ideal Customer Is
Knowing who your ideal customer is is key to providing your funnel with high-quality leads.
When you think of your most ideal customer, what do they look like? It’s a question that can be hard to answer. But by answering this question, you’ll better understand your target audience and who you’re reaching out to.
Some businesses still have misconceptions about who their ideal customers are, which impacts B2B appointment setting due to targeting unqualified leads.
It’s a good idea to study your most loyal customers and notice their repetitive patterns and preferences. Knowing them will help you target them and manage your sales better.
Why not start with some questions:
- – Who are you targeting?
- – What do they want/need from you?
- – What is their pain point that you can solve or improve upon?
Once these questions have been asked, it’s time to take action and find out all about your potential customers! Check in on social media, read reviews online, talk with friends and family–anyone who might be able to help.
How to get the right audience
Initially, you’ll have a generic audience coming to your site. This is where people don’t know what your company is or what you do.
Because they’re not loyal yet, you need to provide them with a great user experience. More precisely, the goal at this stage is to attract as many qualified leads as possible. Don’t forget to establish the authority of your company too.
Although it’s just the beginning of the customer journey, it’s important to be selective. Shortlisting them will filter out totally irrelevant leads, since not all incoming leads will turn into customers (about half will drop out at later stages). That is, the sooner you make sure you’re dealing with the right people, the better.
Step 2: Make top-quality content
When a customer makes a decision, how many pieces of content do they consume? Make multiple types of content and promote it across multiple channels to get results – don’t expect results right away:
Here are some examples of content you can start to create:
- – blog posts;
- – step-by-step guides / how-to guides;
- – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter posts;
- – infographics;
- – lead magnets;
- – ebooks;
- – online quizzes, polls, etc.
Step 3: Build relationships with your leads
Don’t let them go. Use different strategies to keep in touch and build more trust.
Get even more of their personal information by collecting it from an online form or a webinar registration form.
Group them into a list and stay in touch with them on email, through social media or regular emails.
Give the value of your leads by always finding ways to improve their life based on their request and needs. You can educate, help solve problems, show other alternatives that they didn’t know of before, ask for feedback about what you shared with them.
Step 4: Improve sales process efficiency
Though marketing is driving the cycle, there are three other important departments that make up the sales organization:
The 3 other important departments that make up the sales organization are:
Sales – who is responsible for selling the product or service. The key person in this department is the Sales Manager.
Marketing – who is responsible for generating leads, which will hopefully lead to a sale.
Customer Service – who provides post-sale support and customer satisfaction.
For those who do not know, these 3 departments are essential to a successful business. What you don’t want is your marketing team generating leads and your sales team not converting them to clients. That’s why it is important for the three departments to work together seamlessly.
For example, marketing needs feedback from customer service in order to generate better content for their campaigns.
Similarly, effective customer service will create more leads because they will be able to turn customers into referrals, or return customers!
Customer relationship management CRM
If you’re not sure what a Customer relationship management CRM is, it’s simply a tool that helps businesses keep track of their customers. And if you are having difficulty with yours, here are some reasons why:
- – You’re not filling in the fields properly. Properly documenting your customer information can be time-consuming as well as tedious.
- – But not doing so can lead to errors when trying to find or contact them later on. When possible, use full names and spellings for both first and last name (or company).
- – Always include the phone number(s), email address(es), date of transaction, reason for appointment/purchase/etc., item purchased, and any notes you have about interactions with this customer before
Generating potential leads is only half the battle; knowing how to maintain a consistent, business-oriented relationship with those customers, in the long run, is an entirely different story.
Customer relationship management, or as it is more commonly known, CRM, has been integrated with many different aspects of a business.
A good customer relationship management process should be a priority for any company because it will boost customer retention and increase the likelihood of a return visit if another purchase is necessary.
If you are not sure how to go about effectively managing your customers, you can ask for help. It is not always easy to manage customer relationships when you own multiple companies or have other responsibilities but there are professionals that specialize in CRM that can help out.
Let Brightest Minds nurture your leads along the buyer journey!
Maybe you’ve been trying to figure out a better process for your sales department.
Perhaps because your current system is failing, likely because there are too many variables in play and it can be hard to get a good sense of what you need to adjust at any given time.
To add to that, in many companies there’s often so much tension between people and departments that you don’t know who to trust to take care of implementing new processes, which makes things even more difficult than they already are.
When it comes to selling B2B, we know that one size doesn’t fit all. That’s why our team specializes in making the most of your lead hunting efforts and customer relationships by working with you to understand your needs and goals for success.
How do you want us to help?
Leave a comment below, or contact us at BrightestMinds.io!
Brightest Minds is a B2B lead generation agency that helps companies connect with high-value prospects by aligning their inbound and outbound sales activity through intelligent lead nurturing.
We help B2B marketers leverage data to grow revenue and reduce cost per acquisition (CPA) for outbound campaigns.
Depending on your business needs, we provide various levels of campaign management, comprehensive access to resources like webinars, training programs, and analytics tools to refine the execution of both inbound marketing (SEO/PPC) and outbound campaigns.
Learn more about our services here: https://www.brightestminds.io
The three keys to a successful business are Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service.
The marketing team generates leads which hopefully lead to sales for the company while customer service helps turn customers into referrals or return clients by providing post-sale support and satisfaction.
It is important that these teams work together seamlessly so that every opportunity can be captured with an increase in revenue for the company overall.
To get more sales, we need to make sure that potential buyers are aware of what you have to offer. It’s important for your product or service to stand out and be memorable so people will want it.
Once they become interested in the products or services that you provide, then they’ll start considering whether or not they should buy from you.
I hope these steps will help you grow your business! Remember – don’t try to implement too many changes at once because it’s important not to lose sight of what works best already.
The buyer’s journey is a five stage process. Understanding where potential customers are in the buying cycle will help you to increase your sales and reduce your marketing costs by targeting them at the right time with the appropriate message.
If you want an expert opinion, just contact us at BrightestMinds.io!
If you have any feedback on how marketing could improve your relationship with your own prospects or current customers, we’d like to hear from you!
Please feel free to contact us at brightestminds.io if there’s anything we can help you out with today!