This is the most well-known method for preparing the commercial strategy of our businesses. It will be very familiar to you, especially if you are in the marketing world, but have you ever thought about what this sales technique really involves? We will show you the conventionally known sales funnel (AIDA) in comparison with a more developed alternative that takes into account the entire customer life cycle (“Bow tie” funnel).
WHAT IS A SALES FUNNEL?
Let’s start from the beginning, what’s the meaning of sales funnel? First of all, we must warn you that, depending on the occasion, the same thing is called in a thousand ways: sales funnel, conversion funnel, sales funnel, marketing funnel, …. You’re in luck! They all refer to the same thing.
The sales funnel is used to plan and establish the customer lifecycle, which goes through from the moment they become aware of the existence of your brand or product until they end up buying something (AIDA).
In addition, in the alternative model presented after the AIDA model in this post (this last one focuses on acquiring new customers and closing the first sale) the phases of customer retention and growth are analyzed, that is, the work to be done in the post-sale so that we get customer loyalty and thus achieve a recurrence of their purchases in order to increase business profits in the long term.
AIDA SALES FUNNEL
If we think about conventional methodology in relation to the sales funnel, it will be the AIDA model, which has 4 phases. As seen in the image these are, from beginning to end of the process:
Any questions? Don’t worry, now we’ll tell you more about each of the steps to go from the general public to your end customer.
Before knowing more about the phases of the funnel it should be noted that this funnel can be divided into more parts if it is desired. It will depend on the process that is needed for each business. This is why there is another terminology used to classify the funnel according to 3 main zones:
- ToFU (Top of the Funnel): this one is the equivalent of the top of the funnel, where actions are focused on attracting new potential customers. In the case of the image, it corresponds to phase 1 – Attention.
- MoFU (Middle of the FUnnel): in this case, it is associated with the techniques by which people go from knowing you to being interested in what you offer and/or do (phases 2 and 3 of the AIDA model).
- BoFU (Bottom of the FUnnel): if we reach this point, we will be able to convert that audience into a customer by getting the purchase (phase 4 of AIDA).
We need people to get to know us, that is our main goal in the awareness phase. We can offer the best service or product on the market but if no one knows about you it will be of no use… In today’s highly competitive world it is not only important to be good, you also have to know how to look good. There are some ways to reach the public:
- Organic: achieving viral content (highly shared among people) without the need for advertising campaigns.
- Paid: any content that gives visibility to your business through a paid marketing campaign.
- Collaborations: in this case, content is created and it reaches new audiences making collaboration in a video, podcast, etc., with a person who has recognition and influence in a specific field.
Once we have people’s attention we need to move from addressing a generic audience to a community as close as possible to that of our target customer. The goal is not to be known by as many people as possible (of course we would not complain if this happens…) but to reach as many potential customers as possible, which is quite different.
To reach this you must establish a content marketing strategy that offers the user information of value to your potential customer. Imagine you drive a company that sells drills, in this phase you are not going to create technical content about your drill saying that it is the best for one thing or for another. What you are looking for here is to build customer loyalty and for that, you have to understand why your customer needs products or services like the ones you offer. You should ask yourself, what is the why of the drill? Well, maybe what your customer wants is to hang a picture or to repair something from his house because it is his hobby… Then what he wants to read is about pictures, 3 keys to hang your pictures at home, the 5 hacks to do the maintenance of your house yourself, and everything you can think of…
Following this advice you will create a base of really interested FOLLOWERS (for example with a newsletter) thanks to the trust that you are generating, and not of people who consume your content on the bounce, that is to say, that they are not really interested in what you offer.
Now we can begin to add some content about sales in our content strategy while we keep adding value to them with contributions of value already mentioned.
Now, STEP by STEP (do not abuse), we will have to make our FOLLOWER see that all those ideas that they have been looking at, thanks to the content provided, can be achieved with our help. To do this there are several options such as redirecting them to another part of the web with products linked or perhaps providing a way of contact (contact form, phone, instant chat, etc.) so that they can request information about what you offer.
The moment of truth has arrived! the sale. This is what everyone does, as you surely have understood with what has been explained so far is that when a person reaches this stage you have provided so much value that really sees in your business a company far above the others, and therefore, purchasing what you offer.
Following the strategies mentioned above, your brand image will be enhanced, so you will be able to sell at a higher price than your competitors.
We recommend that this sales phase get done through “dark post”, that is, through paid campaigns aimed at a much more specific audience that could be interested in what you offer. This will ensure that the investment you make materializes with a higher success rate.
SALES FUNNEL FOR COMPREHENSIVE CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT
On this occasion, we show a much more complete sales model that includes not only the customer acquisition phase, the most common, but also places special emphasis on retention and growth throughout the life of the customer.
This is called Get, Keep, Grow, double funnel, Bow Tie, … We comment in more detail about each of the stages of this methodology.
This first phase would be equivalent to what we have seen so far, it is about attracting the attention of people to gradually accompany them to the first sale (AIDA).
Again, attention can be achieved through organic, paid or by partnerships. To achieve these, different alternatives will be used such as public relations, trade shows, affiliate marketing or content marketing strategies.
Once you get people to move through the funnel and make the first sale, there are two possibilities: to attract them to another sale by the same means by which they discovered us initially (this would be very costly) or to take advantage of the trust generated to apply retention strategies.
We recommend that you apply both at the same time but wherever possible try to bring it into the keep zone as it will ultimately reduce your customer acquisition costs (CAC) and allow your business to grow in the long run.
Finally! After the time and money invested in your audience, we have been able to go from not knowing us at the beginning to turning them into a customer. Now you’re wondering, how do I retain them? or, what do you mean by retaining them?
Your customer retention is not just about selling something to them again and again, then why do we need to go through this phase? Because it is going to be key to keep in contact with them so that next time they will not only repeat their purchase but also buy more products or services. You must be present in your customer’s life until they need something that you can offer again, so you will be their best option when they need you due to the confidence you have developed over time.
To keep customers there are some strategies such as the use of a newsletter to keep your followers informed about your last news (or these ones which could be interesting for them), keeping your blog updated, social networks, making improvements in products/services, offer incentives according to loyalty programs (discounts, offers, …), etc. What does your company need? It will depend on many factors that must be evaluated but most of the time the more you can cover the better.
Have you been able to retain the customer’s attention and he wants to do business with you again? Now they knows a lot more about your company so they will surely trust you more than before, so it’s time to get back to talking about sales:
- Next-Sell: sales about the same product that has already been purchased previously, either out of necessity or perhaps because it has been upgraded.
- Up-sell: in this case you sell something “better” than you are used to. An example would be to increase the size of the beverage you bought, normally you order a small size but today you want the biggest one.
- ross-Sell: it is about the customer buying something related to their last purchases, but different, from your product portfolio. Following the previous example, the cross-sell of drink could be a hamburger and fries.
- Bundle: packs offer a comprehensive solution to the customer. This allows you to sell several key products at higher prices than you would get with their individual sale.
- Referrals: offer a percentage of sales to those customers who decide to promote your products and make them reach more people for you.
IMPORTANT! We have worked hard to bring our clients here to build a relationship of trust. Let’s not throw it all away by desperately selling something they don’t really need, trust takes a long time to gain but it can be lost without you even realizing it… In the long term, it is in our interest to recurring customers as our customer acquisition cost (CAC) will be reduced amazingly, and with this our profits will grow.
HOW TO IMPLEMENT THE SALES FUNNEL TO YOUR BUSINESS?
Implementing this sales funnel methodology effectively can be difficult, too many steps, too many media (both digital and analog), and your time and your team’s time is often too limited to add these extra complexities.
For all this, and taking advantage of the digital era, you should implement this sales funnel with measurements of these digital tools that can provide quality analysis for each of the stages and substages for your business.
The commented process would be:
- Current analysis of your business: Are you targeting the right audience? How do you reach people? How do you evaluate the success or failure of your performance in social networks?
- Set a strategy according to your needs. Are you looking to boost the growth part of the funnel or maybe you are looking to get new customers? In which media do you want your company to be present? What content plan do you need to achieve these objectives?
- Measure what matters (KPIs and OKRs) to be able to evaluate the performance in the different areas of the funnel. Without these values, it is impossible to continuously improve your sales process without a superhuman effort… This is usually the stage that costs the most because we are not used to measuring ourselves but if we don’t do it the positive effect we get is diluted.
- Continuous improvement. What information do the results obtain show? Are there any actions that are clearly working better and that we should focus on? Should any of the initial approaches be discarded or modified?
As you can see there are many alternatives, there is no magic formula that gives the desired result, it is about knowing all the factors that affect these strategies discussed and making the best decision based on these ones and others such as the type of customer you sell (B2B – business to business, B2C . business to person) or in your company’s sector.
If you have any doubts about this article, or if you want to make any comments, please do not hesitate to write to us to firstname.lastname@example.org, it will be such a pleasure to read your comments and answer you.
The StartUp Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf