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If you’re a salesperson or marketer, then you’re probably familiar with the sales funnel stages in a broad sense.
You can probably name most of them and have had use for them within your sales tactics, but do you know what each stage entails? Do you know how important each stage is to the sales process?
This guide will provide you with a better understanding of the sales funnel stages, what they mean, and how you can use them to your advantage.
What is a sales funnel?
Before we start diving into the sales funnel stages, let’s first define what a sales funnel is.
A sales funnel is the process that salespeople use to take leads from their initial awareness of a product or service all the way to purchase.
Originally, it was a marketing notion that helped companies track the sales process, especially in B2B fields, from beginning to end, but sales funnels have become an essential sales tool.
They’re important for sales managers who need to know where their salespeople are struggling and where they’re excelling so they can provide the appropriate coaching and support.
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If you’re new to sales, we’ve also put together a full article on Sales 101 where we discussed different sales techniques for effective outreach.
Sales funnels also help salespeople analyze their sales so they better understand where their prospects are in the sales process, what needs to be done to move them to the next stage, and when they’re ready to buy.
That’s why the sales funnel is often a guarantee of sales performance management.
And it is also why multi-channel is so popular nowadays, it’s just a sales funnel on steroids that allows you to be present at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
At LaGrowthMachine, we have developed our tool around this principle, which allows us to prospect on several channels at the same time… but not only!
Thanks to our tool, you can go even further by automating most of your prospecting tasks: emails, LinkedIn connection messages, voice messages, emails, follow-ups, etc.
As you can see, automated multi-channel prospecting allows us to get almost 60% of responses, on cold prospecting, and all this with the click of a button.
What are the sales funnel stages?
Now that we have a better understanding of sales funnels and how useful they are, it’s time to check out sales funnel stages in more detail.
There are 6 sales funnel stages in total, but depending on your sales process, you might only use 5 of them.
The sales funnel stages are:
Keep in mind that you need to gradually move your leads and prospects from one stage to the next, using the different marketing and sales tools at your disposal.
While the steps to take differ greatly, sales funnel stages are usually consistent throughout the process.
Let’s take a closer look at each one of them.
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Stage 1: Awareness
This is when a lead becomes aware of your product or service for the first time.
They might see one of your ads, read a blog post, or hear about you from a friend.
At this stage, they don’t really know much about you yet and they’re not ready to make a purchase.
Your job is to educate them about your product or service and capture their interest in what you have to offer.
Some marketing activities that can be used at this stage include:
- Advertising: Display ads, video ads, retargeting ads
- Social media: Sharing interesting content, building a presence
- Content marketing: Creating helpful resources, webinars
Make sure your content is informative and helpful at this level, rather than salesy. You want to build trust and credibility with your prospects, not turn them off with a hard sell.
We also recommend that you stay fun and friendly, as this will help you build rapport and relationships with your leads.
An example of this is Slack’s Twitter account; they share a mix of content, ranging from helpful articles to funny memes.
Stage 2: Interest
Once a lead is aware of your product or service, if you’ve been doing a good job, they move to the interest ²phase.
They might start following you on social media, subscribe to your email list, or download one of your ebooks.
They’re starting to see you as a credible source of information, but they’re not quite ready to make a purchase yet.
This is what makes this stage so crucial: You’ve hooked the proverbial fish, but you haven’t caught it just yet.
It’s important to keep the interest level high at this point, so your leads don’t slip away. Keep them engaged with your brand and continue building relationships.
You can do this by using some of the following:
- Email marketing: Newsletters, lead nurturing emails
- Social media: Engaging with your audience, running contests
- Content marketing: Creating helpful resources, webinars
- Events: Onboarding calls, tutorial recordings, etc.
This is where a CRM comes in handy, as it can help you keep track of your leads and their interactions with your brand.
It can also automate some of your email marketing tasks, like sending out lead nurturing emails or follow-ups.
And the good news is: LaGrowthMachine is compatible with most CRMs on the market. You can set up the solution so that when a lead responds to you, it automatically synchronizes with your CRM and appears with its specific status.
For example, if a lead is looking for information, they’ll need content that helps them understand their problem and solutions. If a prospect is evaluating options, they will need more details about products or services to make a fair comparison. And if a prospect is about to make a decision, they’ll need a nudge to make up their mind.
At this stage, you can start to introduce a little bit of sales content into your marketing mix. You can do this by sharing case studies, success stories, or testimonials from your customers. These will help show your leads that you’re a credible and trustworthy business.
This is the time to feel your lead out a bit and start to track what they engage with.
Do they read your emails? Do they click on your links? If so, where do they click? Do they engage with your social media posts?
This will give you valuable insights into what type of content they’re interested in and how you can better serve them.
Stage 3: Evaluation
This is when your prospects start to compare you to your competitors and evaluate your pros and cons, basically.
They will visit your website, read online reviews, or speak to someone who has already purchased from you.
They’re trying to figure out if you’re the right fit for them and if they’re ready to make a purchase.
You might think the lead is in the driver’s seat at this stage, but that’s not at all true. You can influence their decision-making process with some well-executed sales techniques.
Some things you can do to help nudge them in your favor include:
- Free trials: Offer a free trial of your product or service so they can see for themselves how it works.
- Money-back guarantees: Take away the risk of buying from you by offering a money-back guarantee.
- Testimonials and social proof: Share customer testimonials, reviews, and social media posts to show that other people are happy with your product or service.
The idea behind this is to give your lead a taste of what it would be like to work with you and to remove any possible objections they might have.
If you can do that, you’re well on your way to making the sale.
The evaluation phase can be a long and drawn-out process, so it’s important to stay top-of-mind with your leads. Keep nurturing them with helpful content and sales techniques.
Stage 4: Engagement
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At this point, the lead has decided that they want to work with you and are ready to engage.
This is when they raise their hand and say “I’m interested.” They might reach out to you directly or sign up for a free trial.
They might also accept an offer for a consultation call or an introductory meeting.
This is a crucial stage in the sales process, and it’s important to handle it with care.
The lead is interested, but they’re not fully committed yet. They might back out if they feel like they’re being pressured or if they have any doubts about working with you.
Nonetheless, this is your chance to close the deal!
Be careful though! Your job is not only to close the sale and tell how great you are, but also to build trust, answer any questions, and address any concerns they might have.
Set them up for success by providing them with all the resources they need to get started. This might be training materials or helpful guides, or whatever you have in store for them.
The goal is to make their life as easy as possible and to remove any barriers that might stand in their way.
Here is some helpful content you can share at this stage:
- A product demo or video
- A case study or success story
- A free trial or a discount code
- Training materials or helpful guides
Stage 5: Purchase
This is it! The final stage in the sales funnel -or is it? 🧐
The lead has decided to buy from you and is now ready to make a purchase.
At this point, you just need to guide them through the process and make sure everything goes smoothly.
Help them with any questions they might have and give them any resources they need to complete the purchase.
With everything that we’ve covered so far, this step should go smoothly.
And that’s it! Once the purchase is made, the sales funnel is complete.
But wait… what about post-purchase?
You might be thinking that the sales funnel ends after the purchase is made, but that’s not always the case.
Stage 6: Post-purchase
The thing is, your job isn’t done yet. Just because the purchase has been made doesn’t mean you can forget about your customer.
In fact, this is when the real work begins.
Just because they’ve made a purchase doesn’t mean they’ll never leave. In fact, according to one study, only 71% of customers who had a positive experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.
That means that 29% of customers who have had a positive experience with your brand are not likely to recommend it to others.
Now is the time to focus on customer retention and ensuring that your customers are happy with their purchases.
This can be done through a customer service platform, or simply by staying in touch with your customers and following up with them after they make a purchase.
The goal is to keep them happy and to turn them into lifelong fans of your brand.
Every sales funnel stage matters
As you can see, every stage of the sales funnel is important.
The key is to focus on each stage and to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to move your leads through the funnel.
Understanding where your leads are in the buying process is essential to closing more deals.
By knowing which content to push and when you can keep those leads moving through the funnel until they reach the purchase stage.
Now that you know all about the sales funnel, it’s time to put your knowledge into action.
Start by mapping out your sales funnel and identifying which content to push at each stage.
Remember, the sales funnel is flexible, so don’t be afraid to experiment and to adjust your content as needed.
The most important thing is that you’re consistently moving your leads through the sales funnel until they reach the purchase stage.