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Everything you need to know about sales funnel stages

Everything you need to know about sales funnel stages

When marketing and sales teams align to work for a collective goal effectively, it results in more deals and conversions. Simply put, the stronger your sales funnel, the higher your business’s ROI. 

No doubt optimizing your sales funnel significantly enhances your overall prospecting efforts and increases your conversion rates.

But to get that level, you must first develop an in-depth understanding of what a sales funnel is and how you can optimize it for maximum effectiveness. Once you know how it functions, it will become easier for you to covert new leads into actual paying customers. 

But before we delve into the details, let’s explore the basics of a sales funnel and its stages. 

What Is A Sales Funnel?

It refers to the visual representation of your potential customer’s journey as they buy from you. It maps out the steps they go through until they make a purchase.

As the name suggests, a sales funnel comprises several stages, sorted as the top, middle, and bottom. While these stages may differ based on the company’s specific sales model, each prospect passes through the following phases: awareness, interest, desire, action, and re-engagement.

This provides you with a clear framework to educate your prospects, ensuring that they make a qualified and informed purchasing decision. Additionally, it enhances your customer’s journey and, ultimately, your company’s bottom line. 

Defining The Stages In A Sales Funnel – How Does It Work?

The right sales process allows businesses to develop a strategic roadmap for their prospects and ultimately convert them to actual paying customers. Sales funnel stages are essentially the tools that help you carve that path.

The sales funnel stages serve as both the building blocks and mile markers, enabling you to map and measure the success of your sales process.

Additionally, it is essential to align your sales funnel stages to your prospects’ considerations. Moreover, the phases should be well defined and discernible by concrete, effective, and measurable activities to ensure desired outcomes. 

For that, you need to have the appropriate type and number of stages in your sales process. Read on to find actionable insights on sales funnel stages and how they can help you drive better and higher conversion rates:

Awareness

At this stage, the primary goal is to capture your prospects’ attention so they get to know your brand. But be sure not to push your products or services just yet. Instead, focus on sharing solutions, ideas, or advice.

The following types of content can help you build and increase brand awareness:

  • Social media posts 
  • Whitepapers and eBooks
  • Infographics
  • Blog posts
  • Videos

For example, Infographics can also be an effective way to make your audience aware of your products and services. That explains why 65% of the B2B marketers leverage infographic templates to enhance their content marketing efforts.

Source: Venngage

The content at this stage should be relevant, informative, interesting, and creative. Moreover, it also needs to be clear and noticeable in the curated feeds of your prospects. 

Establishing comprehensive blogs can help users with ongoing queries and keep them interested and build their trust. Once the trust has been built, you’ll have an excellent opportunity to use your blog to generate a profit by inserting visitors into a funnel that eventually leads to them buying your product or service.

This example of Canary is a security system solution that offers 24/7 watch and security alerts. Their blog is the perfect representation of acing the awareness stage. It provides in-depth guidance and information to those interested in safeguarding their properties. There is no hard-selling, as the Canary blog leverages user-generated content and answers the tough questions for their prospects.

Canary blog

Source: Canary

Interest And Evaluation

Once the leads qualify from the awareness stage, they move into the interest and evaluation phase of the sales funnel. 

Now, you have the lead’s attention, making this the perfect time to help them explore a specific concern, idea, or question. The main goal here is to develop a relationship with your prospects to determine their intent.

Here are some content ideas that can help you with the interest and evaluation stage:

Remember, it is essential to create and maintain a consistent brand image with your message and communicate it through different content channels.

Although they haven’t made the purchase decision at this point, you need to maintain a relationship that represents you as a supportive sales expert. This usually means following up with them in case they have any questions or concerns that need answering.

Grow and Convert does a great job of engaging their leads with useful content. They leverage case studies that center on how they achieved specific goals for their customers. 

Screenshot 2019 09 06 at 15.15.50

Source: Grow and Convert

Decision

At the decision stage, the prospect is considering a few options. They want to know if you can offer them what they are looking for and if it is good value for money.

It is best to entice them with sales offers, such as bonus products, discount code, free shipping. Make the package irresistible and help them make their final purchase decision in your favor.

This stage of the sales funnel aims to help prospects realize the benefits they can gain from purchasing your product.

Here are some effective content forms that can motivate the buyer to purchase your product:

  • Testimonials
  • Customer/ product reviews
  • Consultations
  • Product comparisons
  • Discount codes

Focus and reiterate the aspects that can make your lead’s life easier when they opt for your product or service. 

For example, Squarespace features testimonials from celebrities and small businesses to enhance the prospect’s trust in their brand and convince them to convert.

squarespace customer testimonials.

Source: Squarespace

Action

The action stage is where all the dealing takes place. At this phase, you are ready to close the deal and convert your lead.

The main objective is to set your prospect up for success with your offerings. Provide them with informational materials that can help them understand why you are the best choice.

The action stage is the bottom of the sales funnel, but your work doesn’t end here. It is crucial to value your customer’s feedback, opinions, and recommendations and give them exceptional customer service.

Here are a few kinds of content to include at the action stage of the sales funnel:

  • Customer success tips
  • Video email marketing
  • Follow up email campaigns
  • Training webinars
  • Bundle packages
  • Special/Discount offers

In the example below, Twilio’s lead has qualified. However, they have several questions regarding product implementation, pricing, etc. This is where the pages like customer stories, use cases, in-depth documentation come in handy.

Source: Twilio

Re-Engagement

This phase requires you to keep your customers satisfied to encourage repeat purchases and become your brand advocate.

That way, it can result in higher conversion rates as the happy customers will give referrals and entice their acquaintances to make a purchase with your brand. 

Additionally, it is imperative to address your customers’ concerns, pain points, and other aspects to make sure they are happy with the product and customer service. 

Essentially, you should keep them engaged with your offerings by getting across your message with the help of content such as:

  • Emails
  • Upselling campaigns
  • Loyalty programs
  • Surveys and follow-ups
  • Referral programs
  • Customer support

Email marketing in particular is arguably the most effective outlet for re-engaging your customers. You can also automate this process since most popular email marketing services allow you to schedule emails ahead of time, so you can create three or four follow-up messages to keep more customers engaged. 

The content ideas at this stage center on building and foster long-term relationships with customers. They should not run out of engaging content to connect with your brand even after the purchase. You should introduce offers and advancements to increase their involvement with your brand.

Starbucks offers its customers a loyalty program in which they can get free food and drinks after a specific number of purchases, a free item on birthday, free refills, etc.

Source: Starbucks

How To Properly Optimize Your Sales Funnel: 5 Best Practices Based On Real-Life Examples 

While losing leads is inevitable, you can always optimize your sales funnel and drastically maximize the number of conversions. 

Here are some of the best practices that can help you properly optimize your sales funnel:

Create Informative Content – Awareness 

The key to higher conversion rates is developing educational and useful content that portrays your business as a profound expert in its field.

People are 131% more inclined to buy from a brand instantly after reading a piece of informative content from them. This indicates that educational videos, articles, etc., can significantly impact new buyers.

For instance, Microsoft Azure published a research report on serverless cloud computing’s financial aspect.

The research report informs the B2B prospects about the serverless cloud’s core benefits. Azure makes its potential audience aware of serverless cloud computing with resources that seamlessly align with its business.

Source: Microsoft Azure

Create Suitable Landing Pages – Interest And Evaluation

Figure out what your prospects want to accomplish and how your brand can help them achieve their goals. 

For this, you will need to get your lead’s contact information to get in touch with them and build a relationship. The effective approach to this is to create a landing page relevant to your audience’s interests.

Source: Moosend

You can follow some of the great landing page examples and set up one that targets the right audience with the right content. Landing pages are solely made to promote specific products/services to the potential audience. Therefore, its content should excite the prospects.

For instance, Frost & Sullivan, a business consulting firm, landing page example shows that they know their audience well, and the headline discusses the solution that the prospect desires. 

It ensures that their content efforts will drive conversions. Moreover, the second person voice even further entices the readers as it directly addresses them.

Source: Frost & Sullivan

Social Media Proof – Decision

Providing social proof to your prospects helps you substantiate your company’s popularity or success through customer reviews, testimonials, customer count, and success stories across your landing pages and overall website.

Some of your website’s prospects explore your products and service but don’t instantly convert into customers. Social proof shows them that your brand essentially lives up to customer expectations and claims and that there is absolutely no harm in buying from you.

Follow up email campaigns can also remind your leads about your sales offers and the value you provide. 

Additionally, email marketing delivers a greater ROI, according to 59% of the marketers.

A renowned social media magazine, Social Media Examiner, does a great job at this. You will find social proof in different forms such as customer testimonials, success stories on the brand’s landing pages. 

Source: Social Media Examiner

Use A Compelling CTA – Action 

At the final stage in the sales funnel, you have to persuade your leads to take the desired action. Use a clear and convincing CTA that entices your prospects to purchase from you.

Since your lead is close to making a purchase decision, use a call to action copy that inspires them to close the deal faster. Your CTA should be as visually appealing as its copy. And using a contrasting color with the overall website is an effective way to make your CTA button noticeable.

Here is a great example of CTA buttons. Prezi, a presentation software company, leverages a clear, contrasting, and compelling CTA copy on its landing page for its offerings. 

The button is quite prominent because of its color contrasts and placement. The visitors on this page would instantly know where to click.

Source: Prezi

Referral Programs – Re-Engagement

At this stage, the lead has qualified and has converted into your customers. You can ask them to give referrals and recommend your products and services to people they know would be interested in it or benefit from them. 

Offer a discount code on the next purchase if they refer a potential customer who converts. But remember, at this stage, your content efforts should go beyond merely selling.

Uber’s referral programs are a good example. When you recommend their service to a friend, you both get a free ride. 

UBER Referral

Source: Optinmonster

Wrapping Up

You are just one of the many brands that your prospects may come across. Therefore, it is imperative to help them determine how your brand is different from the competition and why they should do business with you.

Certainly, there is no cookie-cutter approach that can help you create an effective sales funnel. However, to understand how a sales funnel stages work, you need to determine the phases your prospect goes through accurately. While these content ideas for each stage are a great place to start, you will see the desired results as you get to know and understand your audience well.

Will Cannon

Will Cannon

Will Cannon is the founder of UpLead and Signaturely, places great emphasis on lead generation, customer acquisition, customer profiling, and outreach campaigns to maximize business ROI. As a profound sales expert, he considers these aspects significantly impact business growth and drive conversions.

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