Different companies have different sales processes depending on many variables like the size of their teams, the complexity of the sale, the repeat purchases made by customers, the amount of budget they have, among others.
Nevertheless, there are approaches that are widely common among many companies. Below, we grouped together some of those strategies. But before we get too deep, we first need to understand:
What is a Sales Funnel?
The marketing funnel is a graphic representation of the stages most prospects go through to reach the final step of the process, the acquisition of the product or service. It’s made to understand what type of content and information the customer is most likely to be interested in.
You may recognize the marketing funnel as:
- Loyalty *
- Advocacy *
*These last two are found after the sale has been completed.
Another way the funnel can be typically referred to is through the TOFU/MOFU/BOFU model:
- Top Of Funnel (TOFU)
This is the first stage of the process and consists of when the lead realizes they have a problem they need to solve. They may not be sure as to how to solve it yet, but there is an existing problem that needs to be fixed.
- Middle Of Funnel (MOFU)
The user starts doing research and looking into options to solve their problem. This is where they start doing an in-depth investigation to see what options are out there that may help them solve their problem.
- Bottom Of Funnel (BOFU)
The user has already short-listed options to solve their problem. They must now evaluate pros and cons of each alternative to make the final decision. This part of the process usually happens after the lead has interacted with a webpage and/or the salesperson.
Before addressing your Sales Funnel:
Plan your Sales Process
- Really understand who you sell to and how they like to buy
It may sound like something redundant but assuming things in your sales processes or doing things just because it’s similar to another solution can end up in chaos. To really understand your company you need to ask yourself several questions like:
- What are the main pain points the lead has?
- Do you have more than one sales process?
- How many contacts does it usually take my customer to make a purchase?
- What is the best way to communicate with a customer according to their specific problem?
- Have you made an in-depth interview with your potential customer to understand key insights?
- Find the systems and tools that work best for you
A lot of companies get make the mistake of using a system that doesn’t work for them just because “other companies are using it” or “it’s supposed to be the best one out there”. Why does this happen? Tools may not adapt to every type of company or to each particular need.
We don’t mean to say we prefer the pen and paper over a CRM, but for example, if you’re a small company, it may be more convenient for you and your team to try out a simple online CRM than a complex one that needs a lot of processes to get set up. Going for a full suite of solutions like the Salesforce suite may end up in a headache for a small team, and create additional costs that make it more difficult to achieve an ROI.
- Classify and Filter your leads
Based on the previous information, create key methodologies for segmenting your prospects and customers. These questions can help you standardize your selling process:
What really defines and differentiates each one?
How should you communicate differently to each customer based on these differences?
Top Of Funnel (TOFU) or Awareness Stage
At this point of the process, it’s likely people will do their own research within their internal team and not look for a conversation with a salesperson yet. Make their research and evaluation process as easy as possible!
- Offer assets: Create content that answers questions people may have, even if it doesn’t imply your product/solution is directly involved. Read more on this in our blog post about 10 ways Content Marketing can support your B2B Sales Process
- Invest in your website: differentiate your brand by providing a unique and memorable experience.
- Don’t reach out to leads too soon: they may feel bothered by unwanted information (or “spam”).
- Create keyword rich content to be found organically on the web and enhance your social media presence.
- Create valuable networks: Use Linkedin and other social media tools to connect with people and companies.
- Partner Up: Seek out relationships with businesses that offer products or services complementary to your own.
- Avoid Diving Too Deep, Too Soon: don’t overwhelm leads with too much information. People are just learning about your product/service and may get confused if provided with complex information.
Middle Of Funnel (MOFU) or Consideration Stage
- Create sales enablement content to anticipate and respond to how your product/solution can help with your lead’s problems.
- Segment your leads by relevance, importance, probability of closure, or any other important characteristic so you can know which leads you should attend to first.
- Don’t over-communicate: understand that your lead probably has a lot on their plate and doesn’t need spammy messages. Try to make valuable and effective communications that they’ll appreciate.
- Create a list of frequently asked questions
- Offer multiple channels to start a conversation, and be available to do so. Try to dedicate time to them and give leads the importance they deserve.
- Try to be as unbiased as possible: of course, the person knows you want to make a sale, but not being honest will make people lose trust in you and your solution.
- Know how you compare to your competitors, providing as much specific information as possible (try to avoid mentioning intangible benefits).
- Create template emails for leads going cold according to their characteristics and problems.
Bottom Of Funnel (BOFU) or Decision Stage
- If the opportunity for the potential client is worth it, it may be worth spending more time and resources than you do on your average customer but may help close the deal. For example: spending extra time with them, sending them a sample, making a visit, etc.
- Don’t over automate! People who have reached this stage of the buying cycle are more likely to need a more personalized communication and more motivation to finish the deal than the ones in previous stages; this means a more strategic effort.
- What about leads who aren’t the right fit? Assess them as to why your solution isn’t cut out for them. Give them a good experience that will make them appreciate your time and may want to refer you or consider you if they become a good fit.
- Offer discount codes, special offers, or a free trial to convince people to convert.
Post-purchase marketing or Loyalty/Advocacy Stage
- Follow up with clients: Whether it’s a service or a product, it’s important to continue a conversation with them to know how they feel about the process of purchase they went through and what they think of what they purchased, and if anything could be improved. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to involve customer success in the process.
- Create referral programs to reinforce word of mouth.
- Automate the communication process as much as possible: this process is likely not to vary as much as a buying process may, where customers have different problems and needs.
- Where are you losing leads or spending too much time? Understanding where your process is stalling is the best way to optimize the sales process. The Sales Process is a lot like the scientific method: you need to observe where you have a problem, create a hypothesis, test your processes and reach final conclusions.
As we mentioned before, these tips are based on the different stages of the buying process and are based on general information from multiple companies that have proven their success with this type of segmentation.
Gaining full understanding and ownership of the process will make your sales more efficient.