Now that we’ve entered May, it’s time for a fresh look at your sales funnel strategy for 2017! Perhaps you’re wondering why you should evaluate your sales funnel management each year? Well, the truth is, you should constantly optimize your sales funnel and adjust it based on what is and is not effective for your target audience.

Each year, you should look at your sales funnel management holistically to evaluate whether the funnel contains out-of-date or ineffective lead conversion strategies, and compare your funnel to the current best-practices on the market.

Sales Funnel Review:

If you run a Google search for a sales funnel, undoubtedly, you’ll find many peoples’ interpretations of a sales funnel, some with three sections, some with five. This can be quite confusing, particularly because there is not much consistency in the labels that are assigned to each part of the funnel.

What you will find, however, is that they all contain four key sections in the decision-making process in which a company might find their leads: Awareness, Interest, Consideration/Converting, Decision/Sale.

Sales Funnel Sections

Website Visitor – Through the magic of the Internet (and search algorithms), visitors have landed on your website, meaning they are at least mildly aware of a product or solution similar to yours. An SEO-focused content strategy will help to increase the number of visitors to your site, as semi-qualified leads search for and find solutions to their problems in your content.

Top of the Funnel (TOFU) – Leads enter this stage of the sales funnel when they find your product, service or content interesting. They’ve puttered around your blog, looked at some of your products, and have shown their interest at least in the kind of solution you are offering. Your sales copy and the low-level/freebie offer is key in further drawing them in.

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) – Ok, so your lead has downloaded a free resource, and they’ve found it useful. They’re starting to build their trust in you and your product, so they want more resources to help them out. They’ve begun to consider you as a contender to solve their problem. At this point, the lead might sign up for a free version of your software or download a more-involved resource, like a case study. It’s at this stage that they begin to turn into qualified leads.

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) – At this point, your qualified leads have decided to trust you, and they’re considering solutions from one or two other vendors. Now, you must ask for the hard sell, and your lead must make the decision to purchase your solution. You have to show them that you are the right solution for their problems, that you will be there for them when things go sideways, and that you’ll continue to support them with helpful resources.

Examples of Great Sales Funnels

Hubspot

Hubspot is a provider of inbound marketing software to help businesses increase the number of leads enter their sales funnel. It has made a point of creating an extensive blog full of helpful resources for the purpose of extending their SEO reach and by quickly absorbing leads into their sales funnel.

The Hubspot sales funnel journey:

Visitor:

On Hubspot, you find an answer to the problem that caused you to run a search in the first place.

Interest:

You follow the CTA and download the free resource they are offering because it’s free, you’re interested, and their blog posts have already been helpful.

Consideration:

The resource helps you even more, and starts to solidify your trust in Hubspot and begins to form your mindset that they are an authority on sales and marketing matters. The communications you receive from Hubspot are personalized and timely, so you set up a call with a representative.

Decision:

After accessing and processing all of the information that you can about Hubspot, you make a decision about your purchase.

What you can learn from Hubspot’s sales funnel:

  • Constant communication through automated email marketing
  • Providing relevant information based on previous touchpoints – very important if you offer more than one kind of solution
  • Personalize the experience as much as you can

Buffer

Buffer is a social media planning platform that allows you to manage and schedule posts for 1 to 150 social media accounts. They offer a freemium model, meaning you can start out your account for free and it will remain free forever until you need to expand your capacity.

The Buffer sales funnel journey:

Visitor:

Like with Hubspot, a post on Buffer’s blog is most likely what drew you to their website.

Interest:

Another likely case is that you were already searching for and interested in finding a tool to help you manage your social media postings. Your interest in Buffer’s tool leads you to follow it’s CTA: “Schedule your first post now.” Within minutes, you’re signed up and testing Buffer’s tool. You will most likely turn to many of Buffer’s free sources on their platform.

Consideration:

After taking some time to play around with Buffer’s features, you being to consider whether you need a solution such as Buffer’s and if its solution is the one for you. You will download more resources to help you evaluate the platform.

Decision:

Depending on your situation and your social media needs (small business or large enterprise), you will either continue to make a decision to purchase on your own or speak to a sales representative to ensure Buffer will meet all of your needs.

What you can learn from Buffer’s sales funnel:

  • Simplicity – In some instances, Buffer’s sales funnel can seem so simple and like it only has two components. This is great for a very simple (usually free) product offering, which is something to keep in mind for similar products
  • Consistent CTA – Buffer is really good at staying on message and focusing you on their one goal: sign up for Buffer for free

Help Scout

Help Scout is a help desk solution to make managing customer service easier for companies. Their platform also includes an email management system to help with keeping everyone on the customer service team on the same page.

The Help Scout sales funnel journey:

Visitor:

Help Scout, like most software solution companies worth their salt, also has an extensive content library to help scoop up any searches related to customer service. Are you starting to see the pattern yet?

Interest:

Once you’ve gotten over the initial interest you’ll have in Help Scout’s landing page, you will be guided down the page to see the basic features that the platform offers, other companies that have used the solution, and easy access to a video overview. You’ll also quickly see that Help Scout can integrate with many platforms that your company probably already uses, like Jira, Salesforce, Slack, and more.

Consideration:

You’re beginning to think that your company needs a customer service solution, so you start a 15-day free trial with Help Scout, and maybe a few others, to understand the pros and cons of each. During and immediately after your free trial, sales representatives will help you to understand all of the features of the platform and that it meets your needs.

Decision:

You’ve tested the software and have spoken to a sales representative a couple of times at this point and are ready to make a decision.

What you can learn from Help Scout’s sales funnel:

  • Provide information about ease of use all over the landing page, like integrations and number of steps to get set up
  • Use social confirmation to show leads which other companies are using your product

There you go! A quick review on sales funnels and a few examples you can learn from. Some key lessons here were that a well-established and well-rounded content strategy would increase your reach online for when potential leads start searching for solutions; having one pervasive CTA throughout your website to minimize confusion for your leads; and continuously talk to your leads, qualified and not-yet-qualified, even after they’ve purchased.

Now, go forth, evaluate your sales funnel, and make it amazing!