5 Essential Stages of Killer B2B Sales Funnels

sales funnel

Anyone in the B2B business knows the importance of an effective sales funnel. A killer sales funnel is essential when it comes to getting the most out of your sales process which in turn leads to enhanced sales and increased revenue.

Apart from generating more sales, it also helps to identify a customer’s journey by providing a closer and better look at it. This makes a killer sales funnel an utmost necessity for the businesses and they are probably aware of it.

Yet, it seems businesses are not taking it seriously as 68% of businesses have failed to identify their own business funnel. To make sure that you are not one of them, keep reading as we continue to discuss what are the essential stages of a B2B funnel.

But before that,

What is a B2B Sales Funnel?

B2B Sales Funnel is the entire journey of how a lead is being captured and how they are taken to the different stages of a sale by the salesperson. It also marks the total actions taken by the salespeople during the entire process. Ultimately, it is a carefully designed plan by which a business understands the key steps required for turning an unknown person into a well-paying customer.

Stage 1: Generating Leads or Awareness

stage 1

The first stage of a sales funnel is to find out the best leads. It is the process of finding out a complete stranger and turning them into your loyal customer. Unfortunately, companies make a mistake at the very first stage of the sales funnel by acquiring as many leads as possible.

The idea here is to not have thousands of leads instead of lakhs but to ensure that all the leads are relevant and possess the value of your ideal customer.

Most of the customers are not even aware of their pain points. The idea of being aware of your product that can help them is a totally different scenario. Finding effective leads requires you to spread awareness about your product/service and generating leads who actually are a good fit for your business.

You should have a proper idea of what your ideal customer looks like to fill your funnel with high-quality leads. You should be aware of their pain points and strengths to develop a strong sales prospecting strategy. This could be done by sharing and promoting educational blog posts and content that is relevant to your ideal customer.

Stage 2: Nurturing Leads or Consideration

Stage 2

The second stage of the sales funnel consists of finding the leads who aren’t yet ready to make a purchase decision and educating them about your product/service.

The most important aspect here is the timing. Even if you have the right thing to say and you are not saying it at the right time, you might end up losing the sale. It takes an average of 84 days to move a lead through the second stage of a sales funnel.  But a lead nurturing campaign can help you generate 50% more sales-ready leads than the average.

An average B2B customer goes through five or more pieces of content before making a purchase decision. Thus, it is important to follow a drip marketing approach by which you continuously engage with the leads via valuable content.

If you want your salespeople to deal with only high-quality leads, you can take the help of CRM. CRM helps to identify the attributes of a customer and evaluates their actions. This is helpful in finding and engaging with leads who are actually ready to talk to a salesperson.

Stage 3: Locking the “first” meeting or Preference

Stage 3

The first meeting or preference requires your salespeople to create a relationship of trust that is important to convert a prospect into a customer. Depending on the structure of your sales funnel, the first meeting can either be a product demonstration or a discovery call.

At this stage, the prospect is already interested in your product/service, they are only a few steps away from making a purchase decision. The first meeting or discovery call can either give you a life-long customer or chase them away.

While making a sales call, it is important for the salespeople to keep their attention focused on discussing 3-4 problems faced by their prospects. If they try to increase the number, the add-on problems seem trivial which diminishes the effectiveness of the product/service.

Also, salespeople can gain more results by following a structured and clear sales call. This makes sure that there is enough time to not only discuss the products/services but also to listen to the prospects.

Stage 4: Closing Sales or Preferences

Stage 4

You are at the final stage of a sales funnel. At this stage, your customer is just a few steps away from confirming their purchase decision. Yet, they are indecisive and failing to figure out what to do next.

To convince such a prospect to make a purchase decision, follow the ASK process as recommended by David Jacoby who is the Managing Director of Sales Readiness Group.

Align priorities – Align priorities by discussing the pain points of the prospect and stating how you can solve them. This should be based on proper research and information you gathered from previous calls. It’s time to move on to the next step if both the parties are in terms and clear with the discussed challenges.

Secure commitment – Secure commitment by discussing that the focus of your business/company is to help the prospect with their challenges. Make sure to answer all their questions and queries before you crack the final question of asking them to close the sale.

Keep the relationship alive – You can either receive a “yes” or “no” from a prospect. If they are not willing to make a purchase decision even at the final stage of the funnel, it’s advised to not go cold on them. There are high chances that this prospect can be a future customer. If not, take their feedback to bring positive changes to your funnel.

While this is the final stage in a sales funnel, the modern killer sales funnel requires one more stage before you can qualify your sales funnel as effective.  

Stage 5: Retaining Customers or Loyalty

Stage 5

If you think closing a sale is the last stage of a sales funnel, you are wrong. Gone are the days when customers were left on their own after they made a purchase decision. The modern-day sales funnel requires you to retain customers by providing them value even after their purchase. This creates customer loyalty, increases a customer’s average lifetime value, and also motivates them to refer you to others.

Salespeople can easily gain high-quality leads by asking their customers if they know someone who can be interested in their product. This can also be done by a referral program. Investing in an automated email drip campaign helps gain new customers. It also makes providing incentives to referrals easier.

Apart from this, you can also automate the referral program by CPR. This helps you to identify your most loyal customers. Once you know them, it is easier for you to engage with them on a more personal level.

Keep experimenting and optimizing!

We have discussed all the important stages of a successful sales funnel. Depending on the nature of your business, the structure of the sales funnel may vary but an effective sales funnel consists of all of the stages discussed in this article. It’s advised to analyze your results and keep bringing advancements in your sales funnel at regular intervals of time. Keep looking for new ways to engage the customer.

However, it may happen that at times you may feel that you are stuck and are not getting the desired RoI. In these cases, it is best to seek advice from B2B sales and marketing consulting firms for a professional understanding!

Do you also want to create a result-driven B2B sales funnel? Contact us today and leave the rest to us!