A sales funnel is one of the most widely used technique to visualize sales process; the way a new prospect becomes a lead and finally emerges as a customer at the end of the funnel. Given the huge size of prospects and relatively smaller size of prospects turning into customers, it becomes very difficult to recognize right kind of prospect to deploy a focused sales effort. In fact following stat shows that getting quality lead is the most important objective of B2B marketers.
59% of the B2B marketers rate “generating quality leads” as the most important objective of their company’s lead generation strategy.
Sales funnel management comes handy while addressing this kind of scenario (identifying and segregating qualified prospective buyers from the less qualified ones). Although it might look simple, invariably sales funnel can get clogged because of various factors. This results in slowing down of forward journey of leads and eventually making them come to a halt. As more and more prospective customers get into your sales funnel but get stuck somewhere in the pipeline, your business will start to take a toll. Finally this will end up bringing down profitability and damage the entire business. In the following section we’ll lay emphasis on some of the key elements to ensure a free flow of prospects.
Identifying The Source of the Problem
The basic step towards identifying the issue with the sales is to regularly monitor and report at least three key metrics:
- Number of visits
- Converted leads
- Customers acquired
These should be accessible to all the teams to bring in transparency and quick response time to fix the issues. Basic trend line to show these metrics with reliable data will give first hand information of the problem. Then you can dig deep, review and find out the root cause of the issue. If all the customer progress information are available, it wouldn’t be difficult to detect.
Example: Qualified leads are not signing up for free demo.
|Email delivery rate is low||Spam filters might be blocking the mails.|
|Click-through-rate is low||The issue might be with the marketing message.|
Key thing to notice here is that without customer progress report and metrics, you would be sailing the ship without a rudder.
Removing The Clog in the Sales Funnel
Now, we’ll go through some of the most important techniques to unclog a funnel.
- Revalidating Buyer Persona
A clear understanding of customer is the first and foremost requirement before starting any marketing effort. A buyer persona helps you visualize your customer, his needs, goals, pain points, decision-making process, motivation to buy the product or service. Make sure that you have the best version of persona available with you. Do the following to refine the persona:
– Get in touch with actual customers and sales team.
– Interview them and conduct surveys to understand their journey, content requirement, pain points.
– Understand what really motivates them to buy a particular product/service.
– Find out what’s stopping them from buying your solution.
- Optimizing marketing message and content
Leads won’t automatically progress from one stage to another in the sales funnel. It is very important to engage with customer at different stages of sales cycle by providing relevant and personalized content.
It is quite possible that the content for nurturing leads is not striking the chord at the right time. Especially in longer sales cycle it is recommended that you should add more number of content in each stage of buyer journey. Development of suitable message, offers, promotional material and personalization of call-to-action for each stage will be the key components of content marketing.
- Optimizing friction in the form
Forms are great for qualifying leads and discarding potentials who won’t be responding to nurturing content. Addition of more number of form fields to collect customer data points will help you optimize your marketing effort and target potential customers with highly targeted content. That said depending on your business model and target audience, too much fields in the form can also hurt lead generation. Recently I came across an HR software vendor who had put a funny video about HR professionals behind a form gate. While it makes sense to put an in-depth product demo, white papers behind gate, other videos or content intended to increase product awareness shouldn’t be gated.
- Revamping social reach
Make sure that you are continuously increasing your social reach. Keep on posting updates via your social network, use them as a gateway for content distribution and build up conversation with your followers.
– Don’t try to sell your product via most of your social share. Instead, create value for the customers by sharing useful content surrounding your product offering.
– Reach out to people and post insightful/clever comments about what they have shared.
– Also it is important that your followers should share the content with their network.
- Transferring unresponsive leads to ‘cold list’
No matter how much of qualifying a marketer does, some of the prospects would always become unresponsive. In these cases, it would be beneficial to put them on the back seat temporarily. First thing to do here is to move them to the previous stage of the funnel. Then re-engage with them after finding out the reason for going cold. You should keep track their last engagement to take the next action.
- Using a CRM application
A CRM app will help you keep track of various information pertaining to potential customers. This app can be helpful in establishing and speeding up the process. Less time consumed while retrieving customer data would mean more time spent on taking action to engage with customer and closing the deal. The goal here is to simplify the sales process by finding prospects who are most likely ready to become paying customer and moving them through the funnel by targeted engagement. Check out TeamWave’s CRM app to integrate your customer data and keep track of their progress though the conversion process.
It is quite normal for marketing and sales teams to encounter clogged sales funnel. Constant reporting of metrics and implementation of the tips mentioned above would surely be helpful in keeping it unclogged. We would also love to know how you were able to fix your own blocked sales funnel. Leave us a comment and don’t forget to share it with your network, if you found it useful.