A sales funnel is a powerful tool for generating leads. The trick is in understanding how to use each stage effectively.
The sales funnel is by no means a new concept. It has been around since 1898, thanks to St. Elmo Lewis. He developed a theoretical model that maps out the customer journey. The purchase funnel, as he called it, also goes by the name AIDA model.
The acronym shows a progression from the Awareness stage to Interest, Desire, then Action. Over the years, other models have emerged. But the basic elements of a gradual progression to conversion still remain.
Do note, all these stages contribute to the formation of a relationship with a brand. Capturing potential customers from the beginning and guiding them through the funnel increases the chances of conversions. It all comes down to the strategies you implement at every stage.
Read on to understand how you can generate leads with a sales funnel.
Leads Generation from Each Stage in the Sales Funnel
Sales development representatives (SDRs) have the core role of lead generation. It doesn’t stop there, though. They must nurture and qualify the leads as well. The success of their strategies lies in creating connections and building relationships.
Companies that do not have in-house teams will usu+-ally opt for outsourced SDR. These lead generation companies understand what each stage in the sales funnel means.
Let’s use the AIDA model to understand each one.
• Awareness Stage
Plan: Tap into the potential customer’s curiosity and their search for a solution
Strategy: Increase brand awareness/visibility
At the very top of the AIDA funnel is the awareness stage. The B2B or B2C customer has a problem requiring a solution.
At this point, they will research brands and products both online and offline.
The brand’s role is to become the source of information. Strategies like content marketing using articles, videos, eBooks, and relevant social media posts can pique interest.
You can achieve a lot with such tools. These include educating, entertaining, and addressing customer pain points.
Also, allocate a budget to advertisements, PPC, and boosting social media posts. It helps to make your brand as visible as possible.
• Interest Stage
Plan: Educate and show the benefits of the brand products
Strategy: Engage and persuade
The interest stage presents the best opportunity to capture the potential customer. At this point, they are expressing an actual interest in what you have to offer. You need to show them that you have the best solution to their problem.
Continue with the strategies you were using in stage one above. Other techniques include email marketing, storytelling, newsletters, and web content.
• Desire Stage
Plan: Get the potential customer to like and want your offering
Strategy: Build trust
At this point, the customer aspires to own the brand or product. Now would be an excellent time to use lead magnets to get them. Such include promotions or other incentives to provide that final nudge.
Influencer marketing can work wonders as well. If someone they trust endorses your product, it could add to their desire.
Connect and nurture relationships on social media platforms. When people get to know you through active interaction, they can start to build trust.
Prove that you are worthy of trust with social proof. These include customer reviews/testimonials, third-party endorsements, earned media, and so on.
Also, throw in a mix of brochures, eBooks, case studies, and whitepapers. Showing industry authority will position you as a brand worthy of partnering with.
Implementing link-building strategies on high authority sites will also increase brand visibility.
• Action Stage
Plan: Get the customer to buy from you
Strategy : Showcase value
Up to this point, the SDRs have been working hard to guide the potential customer further down the funnel.
They now hand over such leads to the sales department. At the action stage, the customer is now ready to buy. But, this is not an assurance of a conversion. If they see no value in your offering, they could still opt for the competitor.
The sales and marketing teams work together to close the deal. They must brainstorm for the best ways to convert.
Now would be the time to focus on incentives like money-back guarantees, free shipping, and free trials. The right call to action (CTA) can provide that final nudge.
Mistakes to Avoid When Using Sales Funnels For Leads Generation
The AIDA sales funnel model operates on a very basic assumption. That is, the typical customer will follow a pretty routine process before making a purchase. The linear or granular thinking can be a bit misleading.
There are some factors in leads generation using a sales funnel to take into account.
- Customers further down the funnel can still change their minds.
- Some buyers go straight into desire and action. This means they will not pass through the first two stages.
- Emergency and impulse purchases do not go through any of the stages
- AIDA does not have a post-purchase stage. Yet, it is a critical component for business continuity. A happy customer may return and is an excellent candidate for retargeting campaigns. They could also refer friends or family to the business, thus more leads for the company.
The AIDA model is more suited to first-time buyers. The sales development team will see better results by combining aspects from other models and strategies. Understanding the customers and factors that impact purchasing behavior is critical.
The environment has also changed quite significantly. In 1898, customers had no choice but to visit actual physical locations. But now, the internet has opened up so many channels and customer touchpoints.
The teams must allow themselves tons of flexibility to make changes to the sales funnel as appropriate.
A sales funnel is excellent for lead generation. Tapping into each stage with the right strategies can open up many possibilities for conversions. Understand your target customer, their pain points, and map their buying journey.
Please take into account everything that could impact their purchasing decision, including motivations and challenges. We have suggested strategies and plans for each stage in the funnel above. Look for what works, depending on your business needs.
If lead generation continues to be a challenge, we recommend using outsourced SDRs. They take on the task of lead generation, nurturing, and qualification. Your sales team can then focus on conversions.