"Buy high, sell low" is a joke we've got here at Neighbourhood, though for some it's a reality - spending countless, precious Benjamins ($$$) with little return. This is where crafting a robust sales funnel can set you apart from the rest.
So, what actually is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is an organised system that tracks and guides prospects through the entire sales process, from initial contact to closed deal. It’s a visual representation of different stages in the customer journey and helps you identify which leads need more attention or are ready to be closed. A thorough sales process means greater sales opportunities (in short).
Creating a Sales Pipeline
Like anything you'd do in business, the first step in creating an effective sales pipeline is to set clear goals and objectives. This supports both your sales team AND marketing team understand what key performance indicators (KPIs) need to be achieved to grasp if your sales pipeline is successful or not.
This should include desired outcomes such as increasing customer acquisition rate or improving conversion rates. Once these goals are established, businesses can start analysing their existing customer segments in order to identify which ones will benefit most from a tailored approach.
Now it’s time to build a targeted contact database. To do this effectively, organisations should research prospective customers in order to determine who best fits their ideal buyer personas and target market profiles. They can then segment those prospects, or as we'd call 'qualified leads', into separate lists depending on their interests and needs so they can be contacted with more personalised messages and offers.
Once the contact list has been created, companies must decide how they want to communicate with leads during each stage of the funnel—this may include email marketing, webinars, paid ads, social media posts or even follow-up calls depending on the engagement you've had with your customers.
Finally, it’s important to track progress throughout the entire process by measuring KPIs for each lead such as open rates or conversion rates so you know what strategies are working best for your business objectives
Stages of a Sales Pipeline
Prospecting: The hunt is on! This involves identifying potential leads and determining whether they are worth pursuing as customers. As a business owner you want your sales team efforts to be invested in the right leads - prospecting is the first step in accomplishing this. Methods such as researching online, attending events, networking with referral sources, or simply cold-calling potential clients.
The goal of this stage is to identify the best opportunities for your business based on criteria such as customer needs and budget size. One thing Neighbourhood emphasises is the importance of 'Smarketing' - Sales and Marketing. Working diligently together does wonders for your business. Your Marketing team is usually the first point of contact through campaigns, social posts or email marketing. As sales managers, it's vital to learn and redeem potential customers from a solid marketing strategy - especially throughout the prospecting stage.
Qualifying: Once you've identified suitable prospects, it’s time to dive into whether your prospective clients are a good fit for your product or service. Qualifying typically requires further research into each lead’s background and any other relevant information that will help you decide if a sale is likely to happen. This could include questions about their current situation, what solutions they need from you, and whether they're fit to make a purchase of your product or service (at any level).
Qualifying is one of the most pivotal stages in the buyer journey - it separates whether you have a sales lead at the ready, or if they're still an MQL (marketing qualified lead). Don't be disheartened if someone isn't ready to be classified as a prospective buyer. This is where working with your marketing department is important - ask yourselves how we could move this lead across the marketing funnel, and into an SQL (sales-qualified lead).
Nurturing: Now it's time to ramp up building a relationship with prospects through consistent communication over time. This helps work them down the funnel towards making a purchase (fingers crossed!). Nurturing activities might include...
- Email marketing: sending discount codes, industry news, results you've delivered for clients in similar positions, or genuinely helpful content
- Content marketing: blog posts, e-books, how-to videos/blog content - all of the following positions you as a thought leader in your industry, solidifying your brand authority
- Social media: understanding what your customers react to helps identify content points to leverage, enticing prospective clients to invest greater time, and hopefully money into your business
- Conduct surveys: this helps you understand your customers on a deeper level - what are their needs? What problems are they needing solved?
Closing: This is when (hopefully) you've nailed all your previous steps and it's time for your customers to put their money where their mouth is. To ensure your deals are turning into conversions successfully, prepare for questions you may have been asked before in the closing stage and prepare detailed, yet concise answers. This is where having results delivered for customers in similar positions come in handy. These could include case studies or even reviews left by previous customers.
Now you're ready for Sales Automation
You've likely heard it, but do you understand it? Sales automation is the use of software and technology to automate lead generation, prospecting, nurturing, follow-up activities, and reporting within your sales pipeline. Automation can be implemented as a sales tool that allows you to streamline sales processes across departments so they run more efficiently while saving time for employees. This eliminates manual tasks that take up valuable resources and enable businesses to focus on generating high-quality leads instead of managing mundane administrative tasks.
Automating Your Sales Pipeline
Automating your sales pipeline is an effective way to streamline processes and make sure that prospects are moving through the entire process as quickly and efficiently as possible.
When choosing software to use for automation purposes there are several options available depending on what type of system works best for your organisation’s needs. Here are some popular choices for automation:
CRM systems: HubSpot or Salesforce offer Sales and Marketing automated features like lead scoring and insights into customer behaviour so you can better tailor your approach accordingly, whilst creating automated workflows so nothing falls between the cracks;
External automation systems: Marketo or Pardot which allow businesses to automate campaigns across multiple channels;
Chatbot platforms: such as Drift or Intercom which help companies provide quick answers to frequently asked questions without actually having someone manually monitor those conversations all day long!
The benefits of sales automation go beyond simply saving time — it also helps improve efficiency by eliminating manual tasks so employees can focus on more strategic initiatives instead. Furthermore, it allows businesses to track every step in the sales process so they can measure key performance indicators (KPIs) such as open rates and conversion rates in order to determine if their strategies are working effectively or not. Finally, using automated systems increases accuracy since machines don’t make mistakes whereas humans do!
By leveraging automation within your sales pipeline you will be able to enhance both productivity levels at work while simultaneously increasing conversions from leads who have been nurtured into customers over time thanks to targeted communication tactics tailored specifically towards their interests/needs! Additionally, since everything is tracked throughout each stage it makes it easier for companies analyse results afterwards too – giving them valuable information about where improvements may need made going forward in order maximise success going forward with future campaigns down the line.
Neighbourhood's choice for the Sales and Marketing automation software?
It's gotta be HubSpot! One of the main benefits to using HubSpot is its intuitive sales and marketing automation tools. This includes features such as contact management, lead scoring, email campaigns, easy automated workflow creations that all allow businesses to keep track of their customers while automating certain processes within their pipeline. Additionally, HubSpot’s Salesforce integration allows users to seamlessly sync customer data between the two platforms in order to gain deeper insights into each individual prospect’s journey, regardless of what CRM you favour.
HubSpot also offers powerful marketing automation tools that streamline your entire campaign process from start to finish. Features like automated emails and targeted landing pages enable companies to deliver personalised messages that are tailored specifically towards specific customer segments or personas—this helps ensure higher conversion rates as prospects move further down the funnel! Furthermore, HubSpot’s analytics & reporting capabilities let users track KPIs so they can monitor progress over time and identify any areas for improvement going forward.
There's a tonne of advantages utilising HubSpot in order maximise efficiency throughout all stages of a company's sales pipeline—from generating leads all the way through closing deals successfully. Not only does it make tedious tasks easier but it also provides valuable insights into customer behaviour which we use to continually improve strategies moving forward.
Sales pipelines are essential for any business that seeks to maximise its ROI and convert potential leads into customers. By understanding the various stages of a pipeline and automating activities such as lead generation, prospecting, nurturing, follow-up communications, and reporting with the help of software like HubSpot, businesses can manage customer interactions more intuitively.