Sales Funnel: Everything You Need to Know

Aashish Gururaj for Outplay

By 

Aashish Gururaj for Outplay

Published 

September 29, 2022

Sales Funnel: Everything You Need to Know

The term ‘sales funnel’ has been thrown around a lot online over the last few years. A healthy sales funnel is the difference between a thriving business and one that isn’t. In this article, we are going to take a close look at the fundamentals of sales funnels. 

What is a sales funnel?

A sales funnel is a visual description of the 3 stages of the sales process from the time a potential customer discovers your brand to when they become a customer. Think of an inverted triangle while trying to picture your sales funnel. 

The three stages of the sales funnel are:

  • Awareness & discovery, also known as the top of the funnel (TOFU)
  • Interest and engagement, also known as the middle of the funnel (MOFU)
  • Decision and purchase, also known as the bottom of the funnel (BOFU)

We shall discuss the three stages in detail a little later in the article. 

Do you need a sales funnel

Remember how we said a good sales funnel is the difference between a successful and unsuccessful business? Let’s look at precisely why you need a sales funnel. 

Attract new leads

As you may have expected, having a sales funnel allows you to get new leads. Attracting new leads happens at the top of the sales funnel. This is where you put out the content that your target audience needs to help them discover you (and get hooked onto you). 

Focus on the right leads

Maybe you don’t have a problem attracting leads. However, if this is the case, you’ve certainly found it difficult to prioritize the leads to go for. A sales funnel helps you pursue the right leads to get sure-fire conversions and save time in the process. 

Sort your leads

As you know, some leads are better than others. Some leads are more interested in what you have to offer, while others…not so much. A sales funnel can help you sort out your leads - thereby helping you identify which leads need immediate attention and others that require long-term nurturing. 

Simplify your marketing

You are bound to get confused and overwhelmed while trying to attract, nurture, and pursue multiple leads at once. A sales funnel keeps you on track - helping you focus on what you need to do to attract and convert leads. In other words, a sales funnel makes your marketing much more effective. 

Solidify your relationships with leads

As we’ve already mentioned, some leads will be more willing to buy than others. The ones who aren’t ready to get converted may not be sold on your product(s) or service(s) yet. The idea is to nurture these leads - sending them valuable content and providing them with solutions that will eventually get them ready to make a purchase. 

Ultimately, all the above benefits lead to increased conversions. 

Sales funnel stages

As mentioned, there are 3 sales funnel stages:

  • TOFU
  • MOFU
  • BOF

Here are the stages that encompass the top, middle, and bottom of the sales funnel: 

  1. Awareness

The first stage of the funnel is the awareness stage because this is where your target audience becomes aware of your product or service. This stage is the top of the funnel. They may find you on Google, social media, etc. Your marketing at this stage will determine how many of these people move beyond the awareness stage. 

  1. Interest

The interest stage is where people might be interested in what you have to offer. At this stage, they are probably engaging with your content and are looking for solutions to their problems. 

But they might also be pitting you against other brands in your space to see who has the best to offer. 

The key to winning them over at this stage is to offer your prospects personalized content. This stage is all about nurturing your leads - where you tailor your marketing efforts to meet the needs of individual prospects, as opposed to trying to sell them a product or service. 

In other words, you need to build a relationship with your potential customers and have them look at you as a trusted advisor before you get them to purchase something. 

  1. Decision & Action

The decision and action stages represent the bottom of the funnel. At the decision stage, your prospects have all the information about your brand that they need. You’ve shown them what value you can offer. 

But they’ve probably done their research on competitor brands to evaluate their options and are looking at factors like pricing. Your success in this stage will depend on your sales team’s negotiating skills, how good your sales page is, etc. 

The final stage is the action stage, which is where the prospect makes a purchase (or not). If they do not make a purchase, they might still do so in the future. All you have to do is run nurture campaigns and nurture such leads until they are ready to buy. 

Your role at each stage of the sales funnel

Now that you know what a sales funnel is and what it looks like, here’s what you should do at each stage to optimize your results.

TOFU

At the top of the funnel, start creating content relevant to your buyer persona. You can create:

  • Blogs: Blog posts are an excellent way to give your prospects the solutions they might be looking for. You can post long-form and short-form pieces to answer the questions you know your target audience wants to be answered. Plus, posting blogs allows for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which means people are likely to find your website via Google.

  • Infographics: Infographics are an excellent way to condense important, difficult-to-consume data, numbers and stats, etc., for people who do not want to read blogs. If you have active social media accounts, consider posting infographics regularly.

  • Videos: Videos are the most engaging form of content on the internet. Besides, when prospects listen and watch someone talk to them on a camera, they are more likely to trust them - which is a vital factor when you are selling them something. Consider putting out videos on product reviews, answers to specific questions, etc., and throw in some gated content to get their email addresses. This way, you will be able to send them to the next stage of the funnel. 

MOFU

The key to your success in this stage is personalization. At this point, your prospects are problem aware, which means they might be turning to you for solutions. You will need to give your prospects custom solutions based on their buyer’s journey. Creating content around their pain points is vital.

Another thing to remember is to engage the lead as soon as they are ready for the nurturing process. 

BOFU

The bottom of the funnel is all about sales and negotiation. 

  • At this stage, you will have to position your brand as better than all your competitors - both in terms of value and pricing options. 
  • Training and ease of use: You want to make it as easy as possible for your potential customer to use your product or service. So, make sure you tell them about the training and what they can expect from your team
  • Set the right expectations: Before your prospect makes a purchase, you need to know what their goals are and what they can expect from your product. If it turns out your product or service isn’t a fit for them, they will walk away dissatisfied. 
  • Finally, set goals and benchmarks for your sales team to help them increase their closes and the deal size. 

Common sales funnel mistakes to avoid

Most of your sales funnel challenges arise from a few common mistakes. Here are those common mistakes you ought to avoid: 

Failing to define your target audience

Defining your target audience is the first thing you need to do before creating a sales funnel. Not clearly defining your target audience will lead to an inefficient sales funnel, loss of leads and conversions, and a giant waste of time and resources. 

Creating poor content

Low-quality content is typically content that isn’t relevant to your prospect. In other words, if you are creating content without a clear understanding of your prospect’s pain points and goals, you will not be able to help them. As a result, they will feel that you do not have what they are looking for and might look elsewhere for solutions. 

Not tracking your results

Not tracking your results is a surefire way to create and use a potentially ineffective sales funnel because you will not know which parts of your funnel are working and which need change. Consider using Google Analytics or our very own sales analytics tool to keep track of your results. 

Not following up with your prospects

Not following up with your leads is detrimental to your sales. Sending your prospect an email once is not going to guarantee that they turn into a customer. Conversely, just because they are ready to buy now doesn’t mean they won’t make a purchase in the future. According to IRC Sales Solutions, 95% of all converted leads are reached by the sixth call attempt.

Be sure to continually nurture those leads with personalized solutions. 

How to create a sales funnel

Now that you know what mistakes you should avoid, here’s how to create a sales funnel. 

Find all the data you can

Remember how we talked about personalization? You need to gather as much data as possible to make your sales funnel effective. The best way to do this is by reaching out and engaging with your target audience. You need to find out:

  • Their challenges
  • Their fears
  • Their goals
  • What solutions they’ve tried so far

Based on this, you can create content for your website blog, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. 

Grab their attention

Now that you know a thing or two about your target audience, you need to bring them into your world. They are problem aware but probably not solution aware. The idea is to create content that brings traffic back to your website.

You can do this in a variety of ways, including:

  • SEO
  • Social media marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Direct traffic
  • Referral traffic
  • Paid ads

You can also reach out to prospects on Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Our multi-channel outreach tool helps you do this efficiently. 

Direct prospects to a landing page

Once you identify and understand your target audience and get their attention, you have to take them somewhere. 

That somewhere is your landing page.

Keep in mind that your landing page is meant to capture leads, not necessarily sell your prospect anything. So, we suggest you avoid hard selling your prospects on anything just yet. 

Your landing page must tell your potential customers who you are as a company and what they can expect. Besides this, your landing page must offer something they cannot afford to miss. This could be a mini course, a behind-the-scenes video, an ebook, etc., in exchange for their contact information. 

Make sure you include a form where your visitors can enter their names and email address.

Run a campaign

Now that you probably have a few leads under your belt, it’s time to start a campaign. A marketing campaign allows you to connect with your leads and sell them your products or services over time after having built enough trust through valuable content.

In your campaigns, you want to create content that addresses their pain points, teaches them what they need to know to solve those problems, and address the objections that stop them from buying your product.  

While your campaign depends on your business and your target audience, a good rule of thumb is to send one or two emails a week. 

Build a customer retention plan

Customer retention is vital to turn them into returning customers and increase your referral rate. That means you need to keep them engaged and give them an excellent customer experience after they make a purchase.

You can do this by -

  • Sending them more content (that’s relevant to them)
  • Providing them with customer support
  • Sending them a welcome email after their purchase that helps them set up their product or service
  • Giving them offers and discounts

Conclusion

There you have it - the fundamentals of sales funnels. In this article, we’ve discussed the sales funnel definition, sales funnel challenges and mistakes, the stages of a sales funnel, and how to set up your own. 

Sales funnels can make or break your business. If you’re running a business and find yourself stuck in your marketing, feel free to come back to this article and take a gander…and you’re likely to find your answer here. 

Check out our blog for more articles on sales.

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