Sales Funnel Track the Buying Process From First Contact to Closed Sale
Sales Funnel: simply a way to think about all the steps in the sales process and to be able to log them so that you can avoid a sudden dip in sales. If the sales funnel is not topped up at every stage, the rate of signing contracts will be similarly affected.
You may be more familiar with the concept of a sales pipeline, but for me, a pipeline represents a constant flow, and that’s just not how the sales process works. So, visually you might think of a sales funnel like this
Here is an example of what the various levels of the sales funnel might represent. You will see, and know from your own experience, that there is an attrition of prospects at each stage of the sales process, as the sales funnel narrows towards a paid invoice. So don’t simply track sales, track events at each stage of the process.
The reason it’s important to track the numbers at each stage of the sales funnel is that dips in the numbers at the top of the chart will inevitably lead to smaller numbers at the crucial bottom end, where the rubber meets the road. If the number of sales suspects is dipping, or the numbers of first contacts is slipping (at the early stages of the sales process), it is much easier to take the necessary actions. Such actions could be upping the promotional spend, to correct the trajectory, for instance. Lower down the chart (or sales funnel), it may be too late to take corrective action in time to keep sales at the desired level.
The B2B Sales Process
You should of course be thinking about all the stages in the sales process, especially if you are in B2B. Two young men created a new company to focus on the sales, lead generation and seo processes parts of that kind of business and have have written a very comprehensive Guide to The B2B Sales Process. I suggest you read it.
The Guide also has an excellent B2B Sales Glossary. That will help those not familiar with terms like Churn or KPIs, or CTR. Back in the old days of course, we knew about Key Performance Indicators, but Click Through Rates are a black book, unless you are already using the clever parts of internet marketing.
Their company, called Second Eclipse is one of the new post-Covid generation of startups. It’s based in Orlando, Florida. But as founders Jon Robinson and Marc Rioux say, why invest scarce resources in offices, when it’s the ‘brainwave’ that vital not the hardware, in a ‘vaporware’ business like theirs. So their team is based wherever they want to be.
Other Ways to Keep Your Eye on the Sales Funnel
Like a sailor constantly watching his sail, you need to monitor sales volume, so that like the sailor changing course when the wind shifts, you can take corrective action before it’s too late. I encourage founders to keep their eye on leading indicators, rather than lagging ones like sales, but they must nonetheless check performance against budget. Variance Analysis is the way to do it with sales.
Use the Goal Tracking Tool to keep your eye on goals. Take care, though that you are tracking the right things. One way you can do that is to be sure that you are watching the right Key Performance Indicators.
Of course your own sales process will be particular to you, and what happens at each stage of the sales funnel will be different, but the principle will remain the same. You will be well advised to use CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, which will automate the whole process. Entrepreneurs I have mentored have used Insightly (you can have it free, for only one or two users), but there are many others. Many will connect directly with marketing apps, like Mail Chimp. However if CRM makes sense to you, a super resource is What Is a CRM, an article that not only explains what is a CRM, but gives many examples and links too many of the offers available, both free and paid. Do not miss it.
Find the one that suits you best.