If you think a B2B sales funnel is an abstract idea, brace yourself. It’s time to build a sales funnel that captures and converts your best buyers.
Let’s start with that dream customer.
Your digital-savvy B2B prospect is researching the product they think they need. (Hopefully, they’re on your website, digesting your blog posts, videos, and case studies.)
In fact, the majority of B2B buyers (64%) conduct research on vendor websites before they ever contact a sales rep.
Additionally, research shows that more than five touchpoints are required to secure an initial meeting.
That’s where your streamlined, four-stage sales funnel comes in.
In today’s post, read about building a B2B sales funnel that sales teams can deploy now to bring more qualified leads over the finish line.
What Is a B2B Sales Funnel?
The B2B sales funnel depicts how prospective customers move through the buying process in stages. Salespeople interact with the prospects at each stage, persuading them to make a purchase.
The funnel structure has three levels: top, middle, and bottom.
Top: At the broadest part of the funnel, prospects interact with your content. That might include watching your product videos, reading blog posts or listening to your podcast. (Thank you, Marketing).
Middle: Here, the prospect downloads a white paper or signs up for a webinar. Their contact information goes into the CRM, and a salesperson gets the most promising prospects on the phone.
Bottom: The funnel narrows, guiding the leads toward a purchase. A sales rep walks them through a product demo. Post-demo, the rep follows up; leads buy the product and leave the funnel as new customers.
Ultimately, the sales funnel’s success depends on the rep’s ability to engage the prospective buyer. That’s where the following stages come in.
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How to Build a B2B Sales Funnel (4 Stages)
To build an effective sales funnel, you must understand the stages your buyer goes through toward a buying decision.
Here’s why: If you start ‘selling’ too early, you risk irritating the customer and losing the sale.
Conversely, if you don’t guide the sales process, using your expertise to show prospects how your product solves their problem, your prospect won’t understand the value proposition, and they’ll bail.
The key is to create a human connection at each point, providing personalized content and support with every interaction.
1. Awareness stage
At this stage, the prospect has identified the business problem they need to solve. They’re researching options across the web.
Reps can gather information about prospects via first-party data, such as their activity on your website (the pages they visited and how long they stayed).
Additionally, third-party intent data will help the sales team understand more about a prospect’s company size, location, and leadership.
With this knowledge, sales can understand the prospect’s needs, show them related content, and move them to the next stage.
2. Interest Stage
Once your prospects show interest in your product, it’s imperative to give them resources to guide their decision.
At this stage, they might want to dig deeper into your brand to determine if your product is a good fit.
They might fill out a form to register for a webinar or download an ebook.
The sales rep may also make the first contact here (e.g., an email or call). If so, they must go in prepared. That includes taking the time to personalize the interaction to build a relationship with the prospective customer.
With instant access to buyer information and industry news and events, reps can shape these fledgling touchpoints to fit buyers’ needs — such as acknowledging specific industry changes or asking about their existing tech stack.
3. Consideration Stage
In the consideration stage, the lead is ready to see how your product works and how it will fit their needs. They might request a demo here (or in the next stage).
By now, your rep will know about the lead’s business and show them how the product will solve their business problem.
It has taken a lot of work to get the buyer to this point. Therefore, your data will play an essential role in moving the qualified sales lead toward a deal.
PRO TIP: Ask about the decision-makers. Are there more than one? Using buying signals, you can also track who is interacting with your content by company and title. This intel will help you steer the conversation toward the people making any buying decisions.
4. Decision Stage
After possibly many touchpoints, the lead makes a purchase decision and moves forward with the sale. At this point, reinforcing trust between the salesperson and lead is critical.
As they get closer to making the decision, the prospect might demand more proof that the product is the right fit.
The experienced rep will understand the common objections and know how to address concerns as they come up.
More importantly, with access to comparison data, specification sheets, and customer success stories, the salesperson can show buyers the product’s value and put any doubts to rest.
PRO TIP: Once your new (delighted) customer has their product, ask them for a review to boost your social proof. This can range from a comment to publish on your website (with their permission) to doing a video review or case study.
How Can You Streamline Your B2B Sales Funnel?
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. You have a sales funnel to guide the selling process — a tool that sales teams can use to inform how they interact with prospects.
However, you will need to optimize your sales funnel. That includes the following.
Map out your ideal customer profiles(ICPs)
Your customer profiles will define your most valuable buyers.
With access to ideal buyer firmographic and behavioral characteristics, sales and marketing can work together to ensure that targeted prospects see the right content at the right time.
Clean up your CRM
Your customer relationship management (CRM) solution will organize and automate processes so reps can focus on what they do best: selling.
However, your CRM is only as good as its data. Clear out any dirty data to prevent missteps as prospects move through the funnel.
Set up Your B2B Sales Funnel for More Wins
The sales funnel represents the buyer’s journey and the stages they pass toward the final purchase.
That said, the chances of the sale closing will change as the prospect moves through each stage. Some will fold, ending as a close-lost.
However, with the right content at the right time, an understanding of the buyer’s needs, and personalized interactions, chances are that more prospects will move through the funnel, resulting in consistent close-wins.