In the world of business we are all aware of the almighty sales funnel. Google defines the sales funnel as “an inverted pyramid that draws potential customers through a company's sales process. As the name indicates, it is wide at the top because customers with all level of engagement enter and eventually the strongest leads are channeled to the bottom to be turned into successful sales.” Seems pretty straightforward and for many years the sales funnel looked the same, but now with the world at the buyer’s fingertips, the sales funnel has become harder to manage.
Much like the modern buying process, the sales funnel has become much harder to separate into well-defined stages. The modern sales funnel now looks more like a squiggle straw with all of the many channels available to help reach the customer. According to the Entrepreneurial Insights How to Effectively Manage Your Sales Funnel, prospective buyers receive ten marketing touches in their buying journey.
The reason the funnel has become less clearly defined is the average amount of independent research a consumer performs before buying has increased and much more in depth. By the time a consumer contacts your business for the first time, the consumer has already been through the discovery process and has researched your products, services and reputation.
The change of the classic sales funnel means that marketers must adapt to the changing and learn the multiple channels and audiences within the ever growing funnel. How do you engage, inform, and delight audiences, turning them into qualified leads?
A pretty standard sales funnel has three stages: awareness, evaluation and purchase. The standard marketing funnel starts with those basics and elaborates.
Top of Funnel
The top of the funnel, "awareness" stage, is the stage in which marketing attracts and educates the audience, not on specific builds trust using knowledge, not gimmicks.
Just because the “awareness” stage is the widest part of the funnel doesn’t mean your information should be general. Your content should be engaging and most importantly encourage the prospect to take action to move them forward in the marketing funnel. Content should be useful, relevant, entertaining and educational. Show your personality and your values.
Resources for the “awareness” stage: eBooks, Tips, Checklists, Whitepapers, How-to’s, Blogs, Infographics, FAQ pages, Relevant Links, Social Media posts.
Middle of Funnel
The middle of the funnel, "evaluation" stage, addresses prospects questions, concerns and needs at a deeper level. Content in the “Evaluation” stage should address more specific issues or concerns and lead the prospect to products or solutions through valuable information. Keep in mind that prospects at this stage are comparing your business, products and services to your competitors so use use your experience and don’t be afraid to share your knowledge.
Your content should make the prospect think differently about solutions and provide additional education including data, facts and reviews.
Resources for the “evaluation” stage: Email blasts, buying guidelines, consults, product demos, case studies, stats, comparisons, testimonials, long format blog posts.
Bottom of Funnel
The bottom of the funnel is the "purchase" stage. Content at the “purchase” stage should help the prospect overcome final objections and empower the prospect to make an educated decision and purchase
Content should reinforce the information provided from the prior stages and really set up your products/ services as the solution. This is a stage for proving expertise on specific topic matter content. Don’t neglect your prospect after they become a customer. Your marketing plan should have clearly defined follow up tools and content to continue to provide helpful information AFTER the sale.
Resources for the “purchase” stage: free trials, extended demos, follow up consults, surveys, custom estimates, coupons/promos, in-depth and specific long form content, customer feedback, long form/specific testimonials.
Your business is not out of the box and your buyer’s journey and sales funnel may differ and it’s important to define your own to effectively reach your audience and move them through the sales funnel. Use analytics to continually monitor your funnel content and make changes to continue to be effective and improve ROI.
How does your business manage your sales funnel?