As an entrepreneur, you know that marketing is crucial to the success of your business. However, the viability of your efforts depends on the strength of your marketing strategy. Knowing what a sales funnel does (and doesn’t do) is crucial to creating a functional sales strategy.
The main purpose of a sales funnel is to walk casual visitors down the various sales stages until they convert into paying customers. Additionally, a sales funnel builds trust, engages your audience, and boosts conversion rates. Furthermore, it helps marketers choose viable strategies.
Sales funnels can do a lot for businesses, but they aren’t all-powerful tools. This post will illustrate some things that a sales funnel can do, plus a few things that a sales funnel can’t do for you.
What a Sales Funnel Does?
A sales funnel works in various ways to maximize the achievements of your marketing efforts. Here are five things a sales funnel can do for you:
1. Targets the Right Audience
If you have been in business for a while, then you would agree that companies attract all sorts of visitors, including buyers and non-buyers.
You would also agree that non-buying traffic gives false hope since they do not always convert. This is where a sales funnel comes in handy.
First, it helps you reach a group with a similar problem, thus weeding out casual visitors who won’t commit to a purchase.
Once you get the right people, you will further narrow the group by qualifying your leads.
To achieve a lead qualification, score your leads depending on their level of interest and engagement in your business.
The sales funneling process lets you phase out non-converting leads so you can focus on hot leads.
2. Collects Data for You
You can also use your sales funnel to analyze your audience’s behavior.
For example, you can check the number of people at each stage of a funnel while determining the factors that make them stick around (or leave, as the case may be).
Over time, the collected data will help you pinpoint the weak areas in your marketing strategy.
In addition, a funnel can help you develop solutions to fix the leakage points by giving you actionable insights. Better yet, you can identify specific actions that bring more leads.
Once you identify these actions, you can optimize your efforts appropriately. Generally, performing data analysis with a sales funnel can help you re-evaluate your target audience.
As a result, you will better understand how to appeal to your audience and identify the efforts that aren’t working.
3. Builds Trust and Increases Conversions
Imagine yourself as a customer. Your gadget breaks down, and you need a solution.
Upon calling the respective customer representative, the attendant tries to sell to you right away without giving any helpful information.
Would you buy from them? The answer is probably no. A sales funnel helps your business to avoid such costly scenarios.
Customers need to form a relationship with your business before they can trust you and finally close a deal.
According to the research article The Role of Customer Gratitude in Relationship Marketing,
Relationship marketing investments generate short-term feelings of gratitude that drive long-lasting performance benefits based on gratitude-related reciprocal behaviors.Palmatier, R. W. et al. (2009) ‘The Role of Customer Gratitude in Relationship Marketing’, Journal of Marketing, 73(5), pp. 1–18.
Building trust involves sharing credible content that resonates with the problems of your target audience.
When leads begin to trust you, their chances of converting will increase.
4. Aids the Choice of a Proper Marketing Strategy
Not having a marketing strategy is terrible, but using an improper marketing strategy is worse. It will not only waste your funds, but it will also leave you with poor results.
A sales funnel helps you choose a suitable business model for your needs and provides the tools that will increase your sales.
You can track and revise your marketing choices with a sales funnel as needed. You will need to try and test various models and pick the best fit.
This process will point you in the right direction. Additionally, you can stay ahead of the competition if you have a sound marketing strategy in place.
5. Helps Generate More Sales
A sales funnel acts as a magnet to attract and retain leads, so you won’t have to keep chasing them.
Once you set up working strategies and build solid relationships with your leads, you will ultimately nudge more prospects towards the action stage.
Understanding and mastering the sales funnel is crucial to getting the best conversion rates.
You will be able to follow your leads along the funnel while catering to the needs of individual prospects.
The higher the number of leads at the bottom of the funnel, the higher your chances of closing sales.
Limitations of Sales Funnels
Sales funnels cannot create a sales strategy for you because they result from a strategy already in place. Furthermore, they need to be tweaked from time to time to refine your strategy based on the collected data and analytics. They are automated (in a sense) but cannot be left on their own forever.
Sales funnels can do a lot for your business. But just like any other tool, funnels have limitations.
Therefore, it is important to recognize some of the things that a sales funnel cannot help you with so you can manage your expectations.
So, before deciding to create a funnel for your business, here are some shortcomings you should know about:
1. Cannot Predict the Sales Process
The sales process is not always straightforward, but the sales funnel depicts the lead conversion process as being smooth and simple.
Leads are expected to enter the funnel in the awareness stage and move systematically through to the action stage. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
Prospects can enter the funnel at any stage, move back and forth between the stages, or skip steps entirely.
For instance, a friend might recommend a pair of hiking shoes to you. You decide to visit the brand’s website where you read testimonials, and you decide to buy immediately.
In this case, you skipped the first three funnel stages.
In other cases, you may have a prospect show interest in your brand because they are looking for further information about a product they bought elsewhere.
Clearly, this is a lead that won’t convert.
2. Not a Sales Substitute or Shortcut
While the sales funnel might seem magical, it’s not. It is merely a tool—a theoretical framework. Therefore, you will still have to do the hard work yourself.
You will need to put the theory into practice by unifying your strategies with the various parts of the funnel.
For example, it is up to you to figure out how to gauge a lead and send them relevant content depending on their stage in the funnel.
Of course, you will also have to create the content that you send out.
3. Focuses on Conversions, Not Customer Retention
The sales funnel implies an abrupt end for the customer journey by default. Visitors are welcomed into the journey, and then leads are nurtured until they make their purchase.
In theory, this completes their journey along the funnel.
Although the funnel acknowledges a customer delight phase at the end, it still assumes that customers disappear after purchasing.
As a result, it does not place enough emphasis on customer retention strategies after a purchase has been made.
Although top-notch customer service is crucial, it is more of a given instead of a customer retention strategy.
Sales funnels could do better by focusing on retaining customers since it is cheaper to maintain existing customers than to acquire new ones.
But the funnel is ultimately not a tool built to focus on customer retention. So you will have to create tactics to retain your customers.
A functional sales funnel will help you collect data, build trust, grow relationships, and boost conversion rates.
While a sales funnel can help with all these needs, it does not happen automatically. Hence, there is a need for action on your part.
Although the funnel is a wonderful marketing tool, it falls short on some aspects, such as an over-emphasis on lead conversion and a model that doesn’t reflect reality.
Additionally, it is not a substitute for marketing efforts. Ultimately, the DOs outweigh the DON’Ts, making the funnel a useful tool to integrate into a marketing strategy.
Now that you know what a sales funnel can or can’t do, you can decide if this tool can meet your needs.