Consumers nowadays are more tech-savvy and digitally driven than ever before. While this has created opportunities for companies to reach their clients at nearly every touch point, it’s also driven them to put the customer at the center of sales, bringing on board new channels, tech, and incentives to drive business.
Yet, through the change, and diversification of the sales funnel, many seemed to have lost track of what is important to their business, and more so, how to garner engagement with their customer leads.
With companies looking to meet their clients at nearly every touch point possible – social media, eCommerce, and mobile apps – interaction has changed over the years, seemingly forcing many to adopt new strategies that see them better understanding how their sales funnel can effectively turn leads into paying customers.
Knowing what works, and understanding what doesn’t work for the business is now a critical element of any sales strategy, and it often starts by building an effective sales funnel, and how mistakes can cost the business money, but also slow down growth potential.
Understanding the Sales Funnel
Before jumping into the common mistakes many marketing and sales teams make throughout their sales funnel, it’s best to first get a firm understanding of what the sales funnel is, and what it looks like.
The sales funnel consists of five essential levels, and each plays a vital role in the overarching marketing process. Many view the sales funnel as a roadmap of the customer journey, from the very first point of contact, until a sale is made, and perhaps beyond this point.
First and foremost is awareness. Getting a product or service to sell, requires awareness thereof, before anything else. Typically companies raise awareness through marketing efforts such as email campaigns, social media, blogging, and webinars.
Interest comes once a company has successfully built awareness of its brand, whereby potential clients are taking more notice of a brand, its products, or its services against other competing businesses. During this stage, marketers often try and persuade customers with engaging content to further leverage their interest.
At this stage, things become more technical, requiring companies to look into the type of content that’s attracting customers. From here, marketing and sales teams can begin to investigate which content receives more attention, which links are being clicked, and where possible changes need to be brought on to improve the customer journey.
Action or Engagement
From here on forward, it’s possible that customers are now within your ballpark, and have started engaging or interacting with your business. This could be in the form of an email, a direct message over social media, or even a phone call to find out more information.
During the engagement stage, it becomes crucial for both marketing and sales teams to understand the customer experience, but also find a possible solution to their needs. Teams are required to take more action, by captivating the customer or target audience with social media campaigns, emails, surveys, and polls to get a better idea of how to answer their needs.
During the final stage, the company and customer begin to form a relationship, ensuring their loyalty, and re-engagement with the brand in the coming future.
Ultimately, if the customer has reached this stage, they are now considered a paying client, either purchasing or subscribing, but potentially remaining a returning customer.
Important to note, that during this stage, companies will need to boost their engagement efforts, either through newsletters, follow-up emails, special offers, or bundled packages.
Moving across the sales funnel often happens fast, requiring companies to be agile, yet adaptive to how market trends and consumer demands change. At the final stage, teams need to work to increase the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), using metrics to fully understand how much value a customer will bring to the company over their lifetime.
Sales Funnel Mistakes To Avoid
Understanding the importance of the sales funnel, and its finer, more complicated intricacies, ensures that marketing and sales teams are meeting their desired goals, but also generating quality leads through engagement efforts, at various touch points.
Building a sales funnel for your business may be the easier part, however, maintaining it is often considered to be the harder part, as various internal and external factors influence the direction in which the funnel is working, but also whether teams are moving closer towards their goals.
Knowing that no sales funnel is perfect, or ever will be for that matter, can help teams establish how they can overcome mistakes and challenges that are increasing costs, but also slowing their growth potential.
Thinking the sales funnel is linear
Customers can take different pathways during the sales funnel, and often a mistake many companies make is thinking that their sales funnel is linear.
While there are instances where this may be true, it’s best to acknowledge the fact that some customers may enter the sales funnel at different stages, leaving behind several steps, and often meeting the company at the very last or very first stage.
Using the sales funnel as a linear process could help drive improved engagement, however, teams must understand where customers are entering, and how to follow them through until the end.
Possibly one of the most crucial steps for any marketing team to pique the interest of customers is to have the right call-to-action (CTA). Yet, despite this being one of the more important efforts practiced during the first stages of the sales funnel, often teams forget the importance of creating urgency around their CTAs.
Instead, companies can focus on how to create more engaging CTAs through efforts such as creating a sense of urgency – Buy Now, Limited Time Offer, Last Minute Deals – and using these clear, yet direct instructions to create a more actionable cause.
Ineffective selling points
Selling can be hard for any business, and under current economic difficulties, it’s become even more challenging for sales teams to captivate their target audiences with their services and products.
However, ineffective selling points during the awareness stage can hurt the forward-looking prospects of the customer sales journey. Inadequate exposure, and informative content about the brand, product, or service could leave potential customers in the dark, even those that have already entered into the sales funnel.
Keeping customers informed, along the way, but also not being overbearing helps create a more impactful sense of awareness. This could allow customers to make more informed decisions, but also appropriately direct them towards a solution to their needs.
One of the key elements of creating more effective Call-To-Actions and unique selling points is the message that is being broadcasted to the target audience. Working on the message could be a key element that can help teams understand what they want to convey, but also how they should convey it.
Keep in mind that working across several touchpoints would require teams to adjust their message according to the type of audience they are looking to reach, and through which channel. Creating more appropriate messages that are fitting with both the brand and customer needs can help fast-track the customer entry point into the sales funnel.
Not understanding the buyer’s persona
Designing the sales funnel requires teams to know and understand the buyer persona. Inadequate access to crucial data, such as buyer demographic and needs could make it hard to have a clear picture of the buyer persona, and how to build a message around the solution they could be looking for.
This is however not the only place where data is crucial to understand the customer, or larger target audience for that matter. Instead, teams need to direct their focus on how to identify their buyer, who they are, and where they can find them online.
When setting up the buyer persona, identify key traits they may have, and refine the message according to these traits. The aim should be at creating more relevant messaging, helping convert leads into sales.
Lack of tracking buyer journey
As already mentioned, the importance of understanding the buyer persona comes with the assistance of having accurate data that helps to formulate the message.
However, a lack of tracking of the buyer journey, whether it’s from the stage of awareness or the evaluation stage could mean that customers become lost along the way. Having improper tracking systems could also mean that teams are unaware of where customers may be entering the sales funnel, or where they may have gotten lost.
Finding these leads means that teams can derelict their attention towards touch points that are no longer benefitting the sales funnel, or perhaps improve their existing efforts. Using performance indicators can also help indicate which leads are converting customers, and furthermore determine where changes need to be brought on.
Not conducting routine follow-ups
Unfortunately, not all leads will convert from the very first point of contact, and research suggests that 80% of non-routine sales typically only take place after at least five times of follow-ups.
This could be a discouraging sight for many sales teams, as this requires them to further their efforts, even after making contact with leads once or twice.
However, this could showcase that sales strategies need to be directed in a way that could allow for more points of contact, further increasing the entryway for potential customers. It could require more appropriate resources to understand that conducting routine follow-ups would present sales teams with a greater chance of having more positive outcomes.
Complex sales funnel
There’s a good chance that a customer could decide, at any given point, to opt out of the sales journey, leaving teams with the difficult task of rerouting them back into different stages of the sales funnel.
While this is an important aspect, ensuring that converted leads remain within the sales journey, often having multiple steps throughout the sales funnel that are not accurately executed can create complex situations.
More so, having large sales funnels that consist of multiple stages can also cause customers to become lost along the way, leaving teams unsure of where or how potential leads might have gotten lost during the process.
While it is important to plan for various scenarios and have actionable plans at hand when necessary, it’s just as important to consider how complex sales funnels with multiple stages can also result in losing customers along the sales journey.
Incomplete sales funnel strategies
The same can be said for the opposite. Teams often execute marketing campaigns without thoroughly investigating the possible outcomes of their efforts. The results may be different in each scenario, however, incomplete sales funnels can cause barriers throughout the customer sales journey.
It can be hard to decipher which step is more important, as each of them works interchangeably, regardless of whether the sales funnel is linear or not.
Ensuring that each stage of the sales funnel has been evaluated helps create a clear path for conversion, helping teams identify which stage of the process requires further adoption as the customer journey grows.
Having a lack of leads
Another problem many teams can struggle with is bringing enough quality leads into their sales funnel. This requires them to understand the value the customer carries from the beginning, but also their needs and the solution they could provide them with.
Often, around 96% of leads are not yet ready to make a purchase, even when visiting a company’s landing page. Teams need to look at their messaging, but also how they can create more awareness and interest, to increase evaluation of patrons.
A possible solution could be to bring more awareness through different touch points and use analysis of these areas to draw more focus on what needs to be improved. Although it’s important to use multiple platforms or channels to capture more leads, it’s also important to consider how each of these channels works, and how customers at various touch points can vary.
Get It Right From the Start
When building a sales funnel, teams need to consider who their buyer persona may be, and through which touchpoints they can bring these leads into their sales funnel.
To have a successful sales funnel, from the start, companies need to take into consideration the importance of their message, how this reaches their target audience, and how they can plan for customer retention once their customer has reached a certain point within the sales funnel.
Both marketing and sales teams need to coordinate their strategies, ensuring that it aligns with their goals, but furthermore looking at using data-driven optimization efforts to strategically plan for the road forward.
Taking into consideration both internal and external qualities, and how these can be beneficial to the overall success of the sales funnel, understanding the customer need, and tracking their journey along the way, but also providing alternatives can give companies a more insightful perspective of how they build a sales funnel that’s coordinated towards their goals.
Remember that the sales funnel is never complete, nor is it ever complete. It’s however important to piece it together in such a way that works for the business, but also captures the overarching need of the client, and how bringing a solution towards them could take them further down the sales funnel.