How many of you really think that a b2b sales funnel optimization is a one-time process? Many business owners have this misconception. And they’re quick to spend their money on various sales methods that aren’t moving the needle.
While you might have the right lead sources in place and great sales scripts and procedures to get your brand out there, if you don’t optimize your sales funnel where needed, then you’re likely just throwing good money after bad.
In this article, we’ll talk about what is a B2B sales funnel, how to optimize it, and where to put your focus to see the biggest payoffs from your investment.
Let’s dive in.
What is a B2B Sales Funnel?
A B2B sales funnel is simply a sequence of customer touchpoints that transforms prospects into customers.
The funnel begins with formulating an awareness among the right target prospect.
Once they are aware that the company exists, they go through the process of “finding” and “engaging” with the company.
From there, they move into the heart of the sales cycle with the development and nurturing of relationships.
The final stage is closing the sale, which actually ends at the point in time when leads are either converted into customers.
If you think about it, this is a multi-stage process for a company to be successful.
In short, a sales funnel focuses on the buying cycle of your potential clients. A lead enters your sales funnel.
You nurture them through your marketing efforts until they’re ready to buy. Then you make your sale and move on to the next lead in the process.
The Goal of Optimizing a B2B Sales Funnel
Ready for a little math? ROI is calculated by dividing the return of an endeavor by the costs of that endeavor.
So what’s your ROI on your b2b sales funnel?
You’re seeking a profitable return, right?! And the goal of sales funnel optimization is to increase return — more closed deals and more revenue — from each investment.
No matter what type of business you operate, a sales funnel is structured in the same way to deliver the same results: increased revenue and increased profits.
According to Adobe Digital Index, any ROI above 2% is pretty good. So, as a business owner, if you could work towards a goal like this, that should be a good starting point.
For example, let’s say you were able to improve your lead-to-sale conversion rate from 5% to 8% after optimizing your sales funnel (for e.x, refining processes, and better utilizing marketing automation). This would have a significant impact on your overall sales revenue.
The Stages of a B2B Sales Funnel
A sales funnel has several stages, and each of these stages has a different role that contributes to the overall process.
Stage 1: Awareness
Awareness is basically the gateway to everyone who isn’t already aware of your company and what you do and what you have to offer.
You have to get your brand out there before you can focus on any other stage in your sales funnel.
At this stage, your target audience doesn’t have a clue of who you are and they are usually called “a cold audience”.
Therefore, you need to reach out to your target audience and let them know about your business in general (and why you’re awesome).
You can accomplish this by using social media, blog posts, webinars, video marketing and so on.
A lot of B2B marketers often underlook this first stage but this stage is pivotal to your sales funnel.
If you were to create a sales funnel without starting here, your sales funnel will be broken from the beginning. As a result, a poor ROI or no results should be expected.
Stage 2: Interest
The next stage in your marketing funnel will be the “interest” stage. This is where the prospect has been made aware of your company.
They are more familiar with who you are and what you have to offer. By this stage, they could have already visited your website and/or read an article or two on your blog or even seen some of your latest social media posts.
While not as lofty as the awareness stage, this stage is vital because it’s the next step in qualifying your prospects.
This is where you’ll be able to predict what sort of potential customers are in the interest stage versus those who are still just “window shoppers”.
With this knowledge, you can use the appropriate resources to focus on those that are really interested in your offerings and build relationships with them.
If your content is to the point and has value then they might have even shared it with their friends and followers on social media channels.
At this stage, your target audience wants to know more about you on a deeper level. They are ready to find out more about what you do and how that can help them and their business.
Stage 3: Desire/Consideration
Now the prospect is aware of you and they know who you are and what you do. In this stage, they want to know what sets you apart from your competitors and if they can trust you.
Also at this stage, they’re not just looking for a sales pitch. They’re looking for value as they are now in the consideration stage.
If they can’t get that, then it’s very likely that they’ll just move on to your competitor.
During this stage, your prospects are evaluating their options and start to consider if it’s time for them to move forward with the sales process.
They might have a thought about making an appointment or buying something at this point. This is where you should ensure that you create a customized sales process for the prospect.
You don’t want them to just visit your website and bounce back but go through all of the necessary formalities for the final action; a closed deal.
Stage 4: Decision
Finally, your target audience decided to take the next step. They have decided to move forward with the sales process and they want you to be involved.
At this point, they are ready to make a purchase decision. You need an effective way to direct your prospects through this stage.
While you can still use various marketing channels, a sales funnel starts converting people into customers at this stage.
At this point, you should be able to show them which product or service is the most appropriate for them and why it’s better than the rest.
This is the stage where you must be able to clearly articulate how your products or services will benefit them. (not just get a sale).
Stages 5: Action
Your prospect has made the final decision to purchase from you. Awesome!
This is the best stage of all. The only thing that can make this better is if your prospect tells their friends and colleagues about their purchase (which they definitely should).
At this stage, they are ready to buy, or at least ready to be talked into it. Your job at this point is to ensure that you have a smooth process in place and start the relationship with your new customer.
No need to ask for the sale at this point, your previous stages have actually done that. They are ready to take action!
How to Optimize Your Sales Funnel in 8 Steps
Now that you know what a sales funnel is and what a sales funnel does, let’s take a look at the 8 steps for optimizing your B2B sales funnel.
1. Define Your Audience
The first thing you need to do is to define your target audience by using buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a personal profile that you create that represents the consumers who are looking for what you’re selling.
As an example, let’s say that you’re selling a certain type of software to a certain clientele and they always buy from your competitor.
After defining your target audience, use your buyer persona to determine which products and services would be best for them.
In fact, the more you know about your audience, the better your content will be and consequently, the better your sales funnel will be.
2. Create Value
Now that you have an idea of what your target audience wants, you need to create content for them. The more value you provide, the better chance that a prospect will take action on that content.
The next step is to go above and beyond and provide your audience with more than they are asking for.
This is key to turning a prospect into a customer. Providing value and educating your prospects will not only increase their trust in you and will also turn them into loyal customers who will share your brand with others.
One of the best ways to add value while converting prospects into customers is by providing information that shows them how you can help them and their business.
The more they know about your company, the more they like you and thus, the more likely it is that they will buy from you.
3. Engage Your Audience
Creating valuable content is not enough though. Besides value, your content should contain elements that will engage your audience.
Your content should generate action and encourage your prospects to participate and interact with you.
One of the ways to engage your audience is through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram LinkedIn.
You want them to feel like you know them better than any of your competitors.
In addition to using social media, you can use promotional emails to connect with your customers and prospects on a personal level.
The key in this stage is to determine what type of content is resonating well with your audience.
And this brings us to the importance of building your email list.
4. Build Your Email List
An email list is one of the most valuable assets you can possess as a business owner.
Not only can you use your email list to promote your products and services but it is also effective at building relationships with your prospects.
Email is one of the most effective ways of reaching out to your target audience as they are continuously checking their emails and keeping a watchful eye on what’s going on.
It’s also a good way to show them that you’re there for more than just a one-time sale.
As a matter of fact, email marketing is still one of the most “ROI-ful” digital channels for businesses today.
However, it’s important that you remember that email marketing is not about spamming people but rather it’s about sending valuable and relevant messages to your customers and prospects.
It’s not enough to just create an email list and send out bulk messages.
You should have an email marketing strategy in place that shows you how to engage with your audience and not just have salesy messages.
People are more receptive to content that is written specifically for them and it’s this type of content that can motivate your audience to buy from you.
During your email marketing campaigns, there are key metrics that you should be paying attention to and monitoring.
These metrics will help you determine how well your email marketing campaigns are performing.
Optimizing your email marketing is one of the best ways to improve your sales funnel.
5. Testimonials & Social Proof
Testimonials, reviews, case studies, customer feedback, and social proof all play an important role in increasing the trustworthiness of your brand.
Not only are they a great way to gain more customers, but they also help build your company’s reputation and establish your brand as an authority in your industry.
In today’s world, social proof is a reliable “measuring stick” that consumers use to determine if they should trust or believe a business or an individual.
And with the plethora of information and marketing messages bombarding them on a daily basis, it’s critical that you give value to your prospects and provide them with the information they need to make a decision about your product/service.
6. Use Strong CTAs
One of the best ways to optimize your b2b sales funnel for better conversions is to use strong calls-to-action (CTAs).
In addition to creating CTAs, what you should also do is ensure that your CTAs are “actionable”.
The next thing you need in your sales funnel optimization process is to make sure that you are collecting the data from your CTAs.
By mapping your sales funnel’s CTAs, you’ll be able to identify bottlenecks in your sales funnel and determine which steps are most crucial for converting prospects into customers.
Also, make it a must to A/B test your CTA variations.
You don’t want to be just throwing things into your sales funnel without testing each element as well as the way they work together.
At the same time, you also don’t want to overwhelm your audience with too many CTAs as this will turn them off.
7. Deliver Ideal Content
The way content is being consumed and distributed has completely changed over the past few years.
Content must include valuable information that users are looking for and are willing to share with their friends.
The latest studies show that people prefer short and concise pieces of content. These are quick to scan, easy to digest, and straight to the point.
This doesn’t mean you should only create short blog posts, but it’s important that you have a balance of both long and short articles on your website (to satisfy different types of readers).
This is where you can include case studies, research, and expertise as well as stories that you have experienced.
A combination of quality articles and images will make your content look more “eye-catching” and it will also help your audience get in deeper into the information that you’re sharing.
It’s important to note that each stage of your sales funnel requires a specific type of content.
8. Provide a Seamless Experience
As your prospects navigate your site, they should be able to get everything they need in a few simple clicks.
Confusing buttons or unclear CTAs are a big no-no!
You need to make sure that you’re creating a smooth easy-to-navigate sales funnel. The more interactive your site, the better!
This will help you keep customer engagement high which in turn can improve conversion rates.
Your goal is to reduce friction and remove any obstacles, in front of that prospect, from completing the desired action.
Instead, you want to get their attention, create urgency and then give them a reason to contact you, sign up for something, or get them to download a freebie in exchange for their email address.
How to Build A High-Converting Sales Funnel
Creating a conversion-focused sales funnel is pretty easy these days thanks to the tools that are available.
However, the real challenge comes in building one that is effective and generates actual ROI for your business.
Modern sales funnels are digital platforms that combine marketing tools and messaging strategies needed for companies to manage their sales processes.
A B2B sales funnel should be a well-planned and structured approach that simplifies the entire sales process.
When your sales funnel is set up in the right way, it will help you manage your marketing efforts and create more opportunities for leads to come in.
One way to build a high-converting sales funnel is by using a software like Clickfunnels.
Clickfunnels is a sales funnel builder that will enable you to create, publish and test landing pages and sales funnels in minutes.
In today’s digital age where most consumers receive an average of 120 marketing emails a day, it’s more important than ever to be able to capture the attention of your audience.
This is why so many companies are now using landing pages and sales funnels in their marketing strategies.
The idea behind these tools is to help companies create platforms that will strategically guide prospects from their initial interest in a product or service to the point that they make a purchase.
Every company is different and thus, building a custom-made funnel will make all the difference. Clickfunnels will help you do just that!
There are tons of funnel builders these days and many are really good but Clickfunnels is the King of Funnels by a landslide.
In today’s digital age where your prospects have a wide array of great options, you need to be able to formulate innovative strategies that will help you gain an advantage over your competition.
That’s why it’s important to optimize your sales funnel for better conversions.
And one of the easiest ways to do so is to use a funnel builder to your advantage.
When used in conjunction with the latest analytics tools and social media channels, it’s a whole lot easier to win over new customers.