Building and Using a B2B Sales Funnel
- A B2B sales funnel is a complex system of interactions with product information and purchasing opportunities.
- Calling these interactions a funnel hides how they truly work for sales prospects.
- Leads, prospects, and customers can enter and leave a sales funnel at any point.
- Sales funnels follow a basic formula, but organizations can make them more specific according to their needs.
- Boom Demand provides specialists familiar with a variety of sales processes.
The sales funnel has become one of the standard models by which companies describe and plan their sales process. This is important because the idea of a funnel itself shapes the way we think about sales. It’s easy to get subconsciously caught in the idea that the funnel merely focuses and directs sales opportunities. That’s part of what it does, but not all it does. This is especially the case for a B2B sales funnel.
Visualizing the Funnel
If you’ve ever used a funnel in a kitchen or a car shop, you know that their function is to make it easier to fill containers. you pour a solid or liquid material into the wide top of the funnel. It comes out slower and more directional from the narrow bottom into the container.
A B2B Sales funnel works in the same way on the basic level. Numerous opportunities enter the wide top of the funnel in the form of web traffic, brand awareness, cold calls, and many other sales and marketing tactics. A limited number of prospects leave the bottom of the funnel as completed sales.
Why the Funnel Analogy is Incomplete
In a regular, tangible funnel, all of the material that enters the top will also exit the bottom, as long as you don’t overfill it. That’s the whole point of a funnel: to prevent spills. It is best described as a temporary container.
That’s fundamentally different from the way a sales funnel works. Not every lead that enters the top also comes out the bottom as a completed sale. Anyone who’s been in sales longer than one rejected cold call can understand that.
What’s less obvious is the fact that not every sale that does come out the bottom had to necessarily enter from the top.
The walls of the sales funnel are porous. Prospects can actually enter and leave it at any point. Only a few that fail to close just stay inside the funnel, which only happens if sales teams aren’t careful about managing their leads.
Likewise, a funnel that ends with the first sale fails to account for future opportunities connected with those deals, like referrals and upselling.
This is all because no two prospects are the same. None have the exact same needs as any other, and none are ever exactly where it would be perfect for our sales and marketing teams to find them. Some leads show interest, but only to gather information. Others jump into the side of the funnel with all the information they need because an existing customer referred them to the team.
As a matter of fact, it’s that question of information that makes the sales funnel’s structure.
Processes of Gathering and Acting on Information
Sales funnels come in all shapes and sizes and arrangements of terminology, depending on the needs and philosophy of the company using it. One thing that remains fairly constant across different models, though, is this idea of increasing information and decision-making as the funnel narrows.
A modern B2B sales funnel will be shared by both sales and marketing teams. Both play a part in providing the information a lead needs to become a prospect and then a buyer. That means they are partners in building a process. We’ll take a look now at the critical parts of this process. Your organization may find it useful to break each part down into increasingly specialized chunks, as well.
Generate and Negotiate
The very top part of the funnel can be categorized as the lead generation stage. Just below it is where negotiation happens. In both of these stages, several forms of information arrive into the lead’s hands. Cold calls and emails, online content, and search results all bring leads into either of these two funnel spaces and empower them to start making decisions.
Often, they will decide to leave the funnel. Those who decide not to leave may move up or down the funnel as needed or stay in place. A lead in negotiation may decide to withdraw, but refer someone else into lead generation, or bring them in directly to negotiate as well.
Buy, buy, buy! … and then what?
Those who decide to purchase arrive at the narrowest part of the funnel. There are still many ways for their journey to go, though. They might become brand ambassadors helping to generate more leads, or they might cancel their contract. These possibilities constitute a kind of reverse funnel of delivery, feedback and reselling. Here as well, sales and marketing activities have an impact on how buyers use the information they continue to gather as they move through the funnel.
Organizing special events, seeking referrals, providing a platform for reviews, and networking on social media can all contribute to additional positive and useful buying experiences following a sale.
Boom Demand’s Flexibility
Our outsourced sales development teams work directly with our clients’ sales organizations. They’re experienced in adapting to different sales processes and strategies. That includes every different type of B2B sales funnel imaginable.
Not all organizations need to follow the same exact process or strategy in their sales and marketing efforts. Their prospects and customers certainly won’t. Different needs call for different adaptations.
Contact Boom Demand today to learn how you can count on our dedicated sales specialists to boost the efficiency of your B2B sales funnel!