Increase conversion rates with an effective B2B sales funnel strategy

Over a century ago, a pioneer of advertising, St. Elmo Lewis, created the concept of the sales or customer funnel.

Since then, sales funnels have become an integral part of marketing and sales strategies, and the concept has been picked over and put back together more than the average box of Lego in a children’s nursery.

Although there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to sales funnels. With every company, the tactics, tools and methods used are different. Naturally, the sort of budget a company can throw at sales and marketing influences this.

Smaller companies need to focus resources more closely. Whereas, corporate brands have numerous teams and work with a wide range of external agencies. It also depends on your customers. Who are they, where are they, and what’s the best way to engage them?

What is a B2B sales funnel?

A sales funnel is a journey. Customers go on a journey, from not knowing about your company to becoming paying clients.

New customers find service providers in a number of ways. Either they come to you. Or you — as in, the sales team — finds them. It’s the job of sales and marketing teams to bring as many customers into the funnel as possible, and this can be achieved a number of ways. We cover these in the next section.

Once there are sales leads in the funnel, the aim is to nurture them as effectively as possible. Do everything you can to increase conversion rates. Say you’ve got 1,000 leads in the funnel. If you can convert 20% of them, that’s 200 new customers! A high conversion rate is crucial for increasing revenue, which is what we cover at the end of this article.

What are the components of a sales funnel?

Here is one way of defining the sales funnel:

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Notice it’s not a simple funnel. Not really. It’s more of an egg timer or hourglass shape, whereby sales leads enter and leave the funnel one of two ways: either they aren’t interested, or they become clients and generate even more revenue for a company over time.

Sales leads come into it through a combination of sales and marketing efforts.

Inbound leads from Sales teams include the following activities:

  • Outbound emails;
  • Outbound (cold) calls;
  • Interactions and messages on social networks (usually LinkedIn);
  • Warm inbound referrals;
  • Plus, of course, account management activities.

Whereas, Marketing activities include:

  • Organic search (web copy and landing page-based SEO, and link building/PR);
  • Content (also part of SEO, as a way of generating and increasing web traffic and inbound leads);
  • Advertising, such as social media adverts and PPC (search engine-based adverts);
  • Events (in-person and online, such as webinars);
  • Reviews and other websites which drive traffic.

Not only are these activities the primary drivers of most sales funnel. It isn’t really a funnel. There are the core three stages — Awareness, Consideration, Decision — labeled, “Lead Generation, Negotiation and Purchase” in this example. However, following on from those are further stages, which usually fall into the responsibility of account managers: Delivery, Feedback, and Reselling.

Salespeople aren’t responsible for this stage of the funnel. And yet, it’s absolutely crucial because you need to ensure customers are happy.

So when an account manager takes over, they need to check a client is getting what they paid for, are pleased with the products/service, and then can use this opportunity to get feedback/reviews or testimonials, and then leverage the client relationship to generate warm inbound referrals. All of this is an essential part of the sales funnel.

How to increase leads and conversions in the sales funnel?

#1: Ramp up activities that are generating results

Let’s assume one of the challenges is there aren’t enough leads in the funnel. Start with reviewing every activity the company is currently undertaking.

What’s working? What isn’t?

Double down on the activities that are working, as a way of generating more sales leads.

#2: Qualify leads more effectively

One of the next big challenges most companies face is there aren’t enough sales qualified leads (SQL) in the sales funnel. Or the quality simply isn’t there.

This is a qualification challenge and one that needs solving.

  • Is the team asking the right questions when leads come in?
  • Is Marketing sending the right volume and quality of leads through?
  • Have you properly identified who your customers are?

Often, getting the right quality and volume of leads through is a combination of all three. Not enough quantity. Poor quality. A lack of understanding of who, exactly, needs your products/services.

Either working on these challenges internally or bringing on-board sales or marketing consultants can solve this. Knowing who your customers are, how to reach them, understanding unique pain points, and how to solve them makes it easier to pull in the highest-value, sales-qualified leads, at the most useful point in the sales cycle.

#3: Qualify inbound leads quicker

Inbound leads are the warmest, fastest-moving of all. You need to qualify these quickly.

One of the best ways to do that is with CrankWheel today, a zero friction screen-sharing web and mobile-based app, with an incredibly useful Instant Demo feature.

Show warm inbound sales qualified leads straight away why they need your product/service. At the same time, make sure you qualify them as sales leads. Ask the right series of questions to verify they are potential customers, not time wasters.

Key takeaways

  • A sales funnel is a journey: from when a potential customer first thinks about needing your product/service, to a percentage of them becoming clients.
  • Along this journey, you need to create awareness, support the consideration stage, and increase conversions.
  • Sales funnels include a wide range of marketing and sales activities to drive traffic into the funnel, nurture leads, and support salespeople at the conversion/decision stage.
  • At every stage, you can increase leads when activity is increased, leads are qualified more effectively, and a demo is offered to customers, especially warm inbound leads.