A prospect journeys through different stages in the sales cycle. Likewise, a business organization follows several steps to lead through a prospect to complete a sale. Description of these several stages and steps can be defined as sales funnel. Essentially, the visual presentation of processes involved in converting a cold prospect into a hot lead and to convert is the sales funnel. It is often also referred to as revenue funnel. In plain parlance, it can also be referred to as the sales process.
For online businesses, creating a sales funnel is very important to convert. The essence of sales funnel is to move the people from one stage to another, until a sale is completed. It envisages converting every prospect into a lasting customer, who keeps on repeating the sales. Various sales funnel stages can be categorized into 3 main groups: Lead Generation, Lead Nurturing and Sales
Lead generation constitutes the first stage of any sales process. It can be included in the awareness stage of sales funnel. Usually, at the first stage, the combined pool is larger. Hence the top layer is broader compared to the other stages as we move further down the sales funnel.
For lead generation, various marketing campaigns are conducted aiming to ensure consumer reach. These include the ads, events and trade shows. Email campaigns, EBooks, blogs, webinars, search engine optimization, and social media marketing are the other means used to generate leads.
The best way to generate leads at this stage is to offer educational materials.
At this stage, not everyone who’s in the database will be a lead. Certain criteria needed to identify quality leads. Often, the engagement level and scoring system based on various other parameters will help to identify the quality leads out of all the prospects.
Lead generation is followed by lead nurturing in the sales process. It can also be variously labelled as marketing stage and here where the seeds are sown for the subsequent sales. The stages of the sales funnel which fall under the lead nurturing include the Interest and Attraction mainly. Intent, the next stage, can be partially included in the lead nurturing process as well.
The first stage of Interest covers introduction and positioning. Whoever comes to you at this stage displayed sales behavior and a potential lead. Again, your offerings here should be educational but more oriented toward your products or services.
The leads can be further classified into leads and qualified or hot leads. A hot lead is a sales-ready lead, whereas the lead needs further nurturing. The sales leads can be converted in a set time frame. If not the same can be sent to further nurturing.
Email marketing and multichannel, multi-action drip campaigns are perfect for lead nurturing. The entire process of lead nurturing can be automated based on lead behavior as well as on the lead interaction.
Case studies and free trials can also help to make an impact at the consideration level.
All these nurturing help to grow the intent to buy, pushing the led further down the marketing funnel.
Actual sales follow the lead nurturing in a sales cycle. Different stages of the sales funnel like determining the sales intent, evaluation of lead and ensuring the purchase is completed fall under this phase of the sales cycle.
Product demos and shopping carts further consolidate the intent to complete the purchase. Then comes the evaluation, where the product or service is offered evaluated to complete the sales. Here lies the challenge for sales and marketing teams to showcase how their product or service is the best the lead can fathom to buy.
This is the stage where the lead makes an informed decision about the purchase to be made and complete the sale with all due formalities.
Here where the money is exchanged and the product is changed hands.
Smooth and hassle-free payment gateway and timely delivery of products or services make it easy to win customer confidence.