Kim wants to purchase a crib for her newborn daughter. She works a lot, so she’s dreading being shown model after model by an overeager salesperson at the store. To save time, Kim figures she’ll pick out the crib on her own.
She starts searching various websites, finding information on the prices and features of different cribs on the market. Kim needs the safest crib for her precious bundle of joy, but she also needs an affordable crib. This is also Kim’s first child, so she doesn’t know what brands or models to look at, let alone what extra features she needs to keep her baby safe.
Kim’s search leads her to a blog post on the importance of crib safety written by the leading supplier of cribs in the industry. After signing up for their newsletter and receiving a promotional email, Kim decides to purchase a crib from their catalog. She spends the next week reviewing options on their website and orders a mid-tier crib that meets all of her needs.
Kim just traveled through the exciting marketing/sales funnel.
The marketing/sales funnel is nothing more than a model that illustrates the sales process. Anybody with a need or desire for your product pours into the top of the funnel. It’s then up to your business to introduce your product to those people and secure them as loyal, satisfied customers.
The model takes the shape of a funnel because not everybody is like Kim. Most people leak out along the way. Not everybody who sees your website will purchase your product. The goal of a company is to retain as many people as possible from one stage to the next, satisfying the needs of many people who, like Kim, will benefit from what you offer.
While each funnel is unique, there is a common skeleton that can be applied to any company’s selling process:
Stage 1: Awareness and Interest
This is the top of the funnel. There are many people with a problem that your product can help solve. Kim has a baby, and that baby can’t sleep on the floor. She needs a crib.
Your company’s task at this stage is to attract people to your product. There are many ways to do this, from advertising to blog posts (hi there!). It’s important to create a connection between your company and the solution to the buyer’s problem. From there, you can escort them to the next stage of the process.
Stage 2: Consideration and Intent
Once the person knows what their problem is and has looked into solutions, they’ll be weighing options and deciding on a purchase. Kim has to choose between a simple refurbished wooden crib, a fancy feature-packed crib, or an inexpensive box for her daughter to sleep in. Which is best for her?
Now that they know of your company and what you offer, these people need information to guide them to a purchase. Kim knows you offer a brand new crib with many safety features to protect her baby. But does she really know the benefits of those features?
The best move you can make is to set up an informative product page or landing page, or even a catalog to give the potential customer the knowledge they need to figure out what’s right for them. Present your product as the best solution, Kim’s golden crib, what her precious daughter deserves.
Stage 3: Purchase and Retention
The buyer has chosen their product, and they want to purchase it. If they chose your product, congratulations! But you don’t want to be temporary, you want to be the permanent solution to their problems.
Kim decided to buy your crib, but she also needs to buy a stroller and car seat for her newborn. Lucky for you, she’s already your customer. If she loves your crib, she should also love your stroller and car seat. Soon she would also need a booster seat, a toddler bed, and more. These lifetime purchases are very valuable for both Kim and your company.
On your end, have a simple and streamlined purchasing system. Make the purchase itself as easy as possible. And keep customers satisfied. Customer loyalty is extremely important in the long run, as explained above.
The Future of the Funnel
With the evolution of technology and the business model, the viability of the funnel has been coming into question. Nowadays, people may not be flowing so smoothly through a linear process. Kim may have found a link to your crib on Twitter, and jumped right to the check-out page where she immediately purchased your product. Or maybe she has already bought cribs in the past, and is jumping into the funnel halfway through. With the importance of customer lifetime value, the funnel may not even be a funnel at all, but a circle or web.
Sure the sales funnel may be growing somewhat obsolete, but it’s still a useful tool in marketing and sales. By laying out a sales funnel for your company, you can segment your business or website to capture the most sales.
You can also analyze bottlenecks in the process and find out where people are getting clogged and not coming through. Maybe Kim can’t access the check-out page of your website, preventing her from buying your crib. This creates a substantial bottleneck in your business model.
So, you may say the sales funnel is dead. But to you naysayers, I present to you Kim. Kim traveled through the sales funnel, and now has the perfect crib for her baby.
A Trip Through the Sales Funnel