The sales funnel describes potential customers’ journey from initial awareness to purchase. From a seller’s perspective, it involves lead generation, nurturing, and customer acquisition. Optimizing your sales funnel is an essential part of maximizing your revenue and ROI.
By understanding how buyers interact with the different stages of the funnel during their purchase journey, you can adjust and optimize it to give them a better user experience, which leads to higher conversions.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about funnel optimization.
Stages of the Sales Funnel
The actual sales funnel differs from organization to organization (with B2B sellers typically having longer and more complex funnels than B2C). But the five main stages of an average sales funnel are:
- This is the stage where people who could become customers first learn about your brand and what products you offer.
- At this stage, prospects start to explore your products or services.
- Once they have a better understanding of what you have to offer, they evaluate your products against their needs and requirements.
- This is where the prospect decides to purchase from you.
- Retention/Loyalty. After the initial purchase, customers may continue to come back if they are satisfied with their experience.
5 Ways to Optimize Your Sales Funnel
No sales funnel is perfect, but there are several ways to optimize it to maximize your conversions and ROI. Using the 5 tips below, you’ll be able to optimize your sales funnel for better performance.
1. Know your audience.
You can’t sell to an audience you don’t know anything about. The better you understand your buyers, the better your messaging and sales approach will be.
The first step is to create user personas — i.e., detailed descriptions of your target buyers. This will give you an idea of what they are looking for, where they spend their time online, and how likely they are to convert.
You also need to understand your buyers, the steps they go through to make a purchase, and where you — the seller — come into the picture.
2. Educate your buyers.
A study from Conductor found that educational content makes prospects 131% more likely to buy your product.
Content is essential for moving buyers through their purchase journey. It should be informative, engaging, and focused on the right topics — i.e., those that address your prospects’ needs and challenges or show them how to fix them.
Your prospects do lots of their research on their own time (most are 57% – 70% through the purchase journey before contacting sales), so you need to create content for each stage of the funnel and make it easily accessible.
Here are a few ideas:
- When buyers reach the awareness stage, they need to understand what you are offering and how it can help them. Blog posts, videos, case studies, whitepapers, and webinars — these are all great educational materials that can help build trust and show them how they might be able to solve their problems.
- Once prospects have done their research and determined your product or service is a good fit for them, they’ll need to compare it with other options. Comparative content, such as product comparisons and feature sheets, can help buyers make an informed decision.
- Buyers who are ready to purchase still need to be on the same page. You should have some content that appeals to the C-suite and some that relates to the technical aspects of your product.
- Customer onboarding documents, ongoing product updates, and user tips are all great ways to ensure your customer gets the most out of your product.
3. Make it easy for prospects to take action.
According to Gartner Sales Insights, the vast majority (77%) of B2B buyers found their last purchase to be “very difficult.”
Once prospects are ready to act, you must ensure they can do so quickly and easily. This means having a clear call-to-action (CTA) on each page, making sure your forms are short and straightforward, and providing multiple payment options.
Also, consider setting up email triggers — i.e., automated emails triggered by a specific action or event — to ensure timely follow-ups and keep prospects engaged with your brand.
4. Increase sales efficiency.
Having the right content and CTAs can get your prospects through the pipeline faster, but it won’t help you much if your internal sales processes are clunky and inefficient.
You should identify bottlenecks within your process, such as long lead-time, lack of visibility into customer information, or slow sales cycles — and find ways to speed them up.
This could involve automating processes with sales enablement tools, using CRM software to track metrics and customer data, or implementing CPQ software to speed up quote generation and delivery.
5. Measure the right metrics
You won’t know if your funnel optimization efforts are working unless you measure the right metrics. You should have KPIs for each stage of the funnel, including:
- Reach, impressions, and website visits for awareness
- Pageviews and leads generated for interest
- Number of demos requested and time to close the deal for evaluation
- Conversion rate and average order value for purchase
- Churn and retention rates, customer satisfaction, and customer responsiveness for retention
Your sales funnel is your biggest asset, and optimizing it can help you maximize conversions and ROI. By following the tips above, you’ll be able to get more out of your funnel and increase sales efficiency. Most importantly, you’ll be able to continue providing a great customer experience — from the first time they become aware of your brand all the way through to their contract renewal.