The sales funnel was a well-entrenched image in earnings folk’s minds, ever since it was first developed in the late 19th Century by Elias St Elmo Lewis (great name, huh?) .
The broad, catch-all top of the funnel – usually Called the”awareness stage” gives way to the narrower”thought”,”engagement” stages, through to the bottom of the funnel where the customer makes a conversion.
In practice, this means an initial broadcast will be sent far and wide in the hope of gaining a few consumers’ interest. Those would filter becoming fewer and fewer until a purchase is made by a couple.
For decades, this funnel has been a helpful instrument to reflect the interaction between company and customer, and the way buying and selling occurs.
However, in today’s society, where information is abundant, attention scarce, along with the consumer, frankly, more sophisticated, the simplistic and linear funnel format simply does not hold up.
5 Shortcomings of the Traditional Sales Funnel
Ihelp you to identify, and’ll discuss 5 of the shortcomings of the sales funnel.
1 It’s too linear
When was the last time you responded from an unknown company with a little bit of research, and shortly after, made a purchase?
More likely, your journeys that are purchasing seem more like like this:
You scroll through your FB feed and see an ad that piques your attention. Until you find this new is mentioned by a friend on Instagram you forget all about it. You decide to check out their Instagram account (and online store), like what you see, and follow them on Instagram.
A couple of Insta Stories afterwards and you decide you rather enjoy their brand values and so check out their products in more detail. Whilst you are on their website, you sign up for their newsletter.
It is not until a year after, when you receive a marketing email with a 10% discount and free P&P, that you decide to make a purchase.
You receive your product, love it, and rave about it in your own accounts that are social. A while later, check back on their site and you decide to make another purchase – a product that is different now –.
This journey is not only far more protracted (particularly in the engagement and discovery phases), but in addition, it is cyclical. In the beginning stages of awareness and decision-making, you have gone around in circles between Facebook, Instagram, website, and email, until you finally move through to deciding to make a purchase, and then go on to repeat purchase.
So, where a sales funnel might look like this:
The journey you’ve taken might look more like this:
Evolve your strategy: Build a cyclical sales journey
Check out a few of the cyclical formats like HubSpot’s “flywheel” sales journey.
The circle represents the usual HubSpot “Attract – Engage – Delight” stages. This time, the clients are in the centre.
It also discusses “friction” – the components of anxiety that slow a flywheel down. These may be other things, kinks in the journey, gaps in resources, or communication problems between your clients and you.
2 It implies a finite end
The sales funnel, by definition, assumes that the journey ends. And rather unceremoniously, if you ask me.
Once they have made their purchase customer are groomed to the fold, carefully nurtured through their journey, only to be spat out the other end.
And while the sales and marketing world has acknowledged this by tacking on a “loyalty” or”delight” phase in the end of the funnel, there is still an assumption that the customer disappears after they’ve converted.
Given that the cost of customer acquisition far outstrips that of retaining existing ones, sales people are tending to focus more on customer retention.
Evolve your plan: Focus on after-sales service
Have a look at what happens to your customers once they’ve made a conversion (a purchase, booking, order). Do they vanish into thin air? Do you even know what happens to them?
If you don’t know the chances are they’re probably not coming back for more, unless your product was special. In any event, you need to implement customer tracking via a CRM or email advertising integration.
Ways of continuing your relationship with your clients after a conversion is made. Focus on continuing aid, your immediate service and support, and your sales and advertising content.
Tasks to implement:
- Sales reps to be proactive about keeping in touch immediately after sale, and on-hand to assist with any issues.
- Email marketing automations to stay in touch with news, promotions, personalized recommendations.
- Social media content and live stories to stay connected with your clients.
- Video or text resources on your site to help people get the most from the product or service they have purchased.
- Chat-based support to aid with customer queries and problems.
3 It focuses on conversion
The sales funnel that is standard needs to pull down the funnel as many people as possible.
The modern consumer is more sophisticated than this. It is estimated that 71% of clients shop with a scenario in mind, instead of a specific product. And they do not like being sold to, with 80 percent of consumers preferring a salesperson who doesn’t try to sell them products they don’t require.
What really matters to clients – almost above product and cost – is the buyer experience.
And this translates into revenue. According to the Gartner Group, companies that focus on customer experience see 60% higher profits than their opponents, and 80 percent of revenue comes from only 20 percent of existing customers.
On the flip side, research done by Adobe showed that 74% of customers get frustrated with websites that offer content that fails to respond to their needs and interests.
These needs and interests are not necessarily making a purchase. They learning more about a product they purchased, are finding a piece of information, or just enjoying engaging with your own brand.
Evolve your strategy: Prioritize quality expertise and enduring relationships
Look over your buyer personas (if you haven’t developed your buyer personas then HubSpot have some amazing tools to get you started).
Identify what your personas are looking for asides from service or your product. Does trust mean a lot to them? Do they need to know that your brand has a ecological or social conscience?
- Designate a sales rep to each client, so that continuity of care is guaranteed.
- Sales reps need to focus on nurturing the client, helping them through their journey, providing them the ideal information at the right time.
- Make sales support channels – including live chat- available on your site. Where 24/7 support is not available, direct clients to resources.
- Go live in your social media to examine your brand worth or causes you to work with.
- Build trust by signing up for 3rd party review websites. Ask your customers to give you an overview, and respond to your reviews (good and bad) where possible.
- Personalize all correspondence, using your email marketing software (Mailchimp supplies”combine tags” to make this simple for you).
- Encourage “refer a friend” schemes, offering incentives to do so.
4 It’s singular
The sales funnel that is traditional oversimplifies the process by which a consumer moves from stage to stage, in one direction. It suggests that there is one journey that all customers make when they come into contact with your brand.
However, in reality, the buyer travel that is modern is not this simple.
If you think about the many and diverse ways in which consumers interact with brands digital and offline advertisingnetworking, email, organic search it’s impossible to see how it would fit into the classic sales funnel.
According to advertising Week, as recently as 2001, the average consumer typically used 2 touch points when buying an item, with just 7% using more than 4. They’re using an average of around 6 touchpoints, with 50% regularly today.
Consumers also prefer a personalized experience, with 77% expecting brands to cater to their particular tastes.
Brands that both acknowledge the variety of interactions from their customers as well as the opportunities for personalization, can begin to provide customer experience.
Evolve your plan: Carry out multi-layered customer journey mapping
Some customer journey mapping can help you to map out all of the touch points between your clients and you.
- Start with some persona research, identifying your customers’ goals and expectations from a new and in general.
- List all their touch points with your brand, both on- and offline and on all media.
- Make a List of their emotions and expectations at each touchpoint.
- List all of the obstacles that stop them achieving their goal(s).
- Put together a roadmap in a format that suits you (maybe an Excel spreadsheet, or a tailor-made graph ).
- Pay special attention to the regions of your customer mapping where a transition is made (for instance, make the transition between online to in-store consistent and seamless).
- Identify all of the opportunities to offer a personalized customer travel.
For more on building a customer travel map, take a look at this guide from HubSpot.
5 It depends on abundant attention
When the sales funnel was developed in the 1890s, information was scare, and so attention was abundant. Because of this, the salesman could wield a whole lot of power.
The sales funnel neatly summed up how a product was broadcast far and wide, in the expectation that at least some attention would be grabbed.The buyer prospects weren’t necessarily quality prospects; they didn’t need to be. Irrelevant prospects were screened out, and the ones nurtured through to Buy.
By comparison, today’s consumer holds all of the cards. Information is everywhere and product competition is high. In accordance with Marketo, 96% of prospects that visit your website, aren’t even ready to purchase, they just want to check you out.
Until they are ready sales teams need to keep those prospects engaged and educated. And people who concentrate on lead nurturing are most likely both to increase sales, and encourage recommendations to friends and family.
In fact, the attention of a brand a prospect whose, does not even need to buy. They just need to rave about you on their websites channels and their friends and family may check you out.
Evolve your plan: Give more weight to direct nurturing
Your sales strategy should focus on ways of coaxing your prospects along their buyer journey. This means makes customer service a high priority.
- Sales reps should provide key information at the perfect time, and be on hand to answer questions.
- Create dedicated landing pages for direct nurturing, and ensure that all product pages have clear product descriptions, pricing, and up-to-date accessibility.
- Consider implementing comparison performance on your website to help prospects with their research.
- Pay attention to social proof to demonstrate the quality and trustworthiness of your product/service (72% of customers state that positive testimonials gain their trust in a company).
- Develop a cyclical funnel to keep you plan evolving.
- Focus on after-sales support and content to promote loyalty and recommendation.
- Prioritize quality and enduring relationships with your clients.
- Develop multi-layered customer journey mapping.
- Pay more attention to lead nurturing.
The bottom line
The sales funnel that is classic reflects neither modern sales strategies or customer decision-making. It is rigid linear and focuses on driving conversions.
Today’s consumers put in than brands that have either been recommended to them, or with whom they’ve developed a relationship over time.
Therefore, their journey might be quick, or require a long time, looping back and forth between engaging and and evaluation. In any event, the consumer is quite much in the driving seat.
The key is to develop your customer journey that most describes the interactions between you and your customers’ journey, in all its multi-faceted, turning and twisting uniqueness.
And, although it’s likely you come across sales funnels – they are not going anywhere just yet – it does not mean you must use them. My advice, scrap the term”funnel” from your strategy now, and turn your focus on creating your own unique model.
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