Marketing funnel and a sales funnel are related but distinct marketing models that apply the customer journey at different points. As a small business, you need to understand this distinction so you can understand how they apply to your business and your customer journey.
From industry to industry, business-to-business and even customer to customer, the funnel looks different. Ultimately, a funnel is just a model, a model that takes a prospect and turns them into a buyer. Funnels are about the prospect, they are not about your product. Your customer goes through a journey when they make any purchase, B2B or B2C. Your funnel maps over the top of that journey and as a business, you need to move the prospect through the funnel. Our job at FullerFunnels is to help you automate as much of that as possible so that you can focus on the reason you started your business.
What’s the difference between a marketing funnel and a sales funnel?
- A marketing funnel generates awareness and nurtures the prospect to the point where they are ready to make a purchasing decision. The marketing funnel ends in a sales opportunity
- A sales funnel picks up the sales opportunity and follows it through to a transaction. A sales funnel always follows on from a marketing funnel.
The marketing and sales funnel diagram below gives you a full end to end view
What is a marketing funnel?
With over 67% of the buying decision is now being made digitally (Sirius Decisions) the marketing funnel plays a more important role than ever. Marketing funnels support the epiphany, awareness and consideration stages of a customer journey. When the prospect reaches the decision stage they move to the sales funnel. The sales funnel can occur online or offline. Use marketing funnels to generate sales opportunities and use sales funnels to close those opportunities.
What is a sales funnel?
Almost any marketing funnel can be supported digitally, but only some sales funnels can. The sales funnel is the journey a sales prospect takes during the decision stage. For any business the approach to the funnel depends on the complexity of the sale, and if it can be completed online.
- In a sale that can be completed online and requires no bespoke offer, a digital funnel can be built.
- In a complex sale that requires a bespoke proposal and pitch, a digital funnel will never be as good as personal sales.
The 7 steps of the complex sales funnel
- The sales funnel starts with sales receiving the marketing prospect and making initial contact
- The prospect then needs to be sales qualified. Steps 1 and 2 are often carried out by telemarketing agencies or inside sales.
- A bespoke solution is prepared based on the needs of the opportunity
- A personal pitch or presentation is delivered
- The customer evaluates the solution and may compare it with other solutions
- The contract is negotiated
- The sale is closed as a win or loss.
In a low-cost transaction, the marketing and sales funnel are often presented as one. The prospect ends their journey in an online transaction. Here are some examples:
- Selling a SaaS product online
- Selling membership
- Selling services online
In a complex sale, the marketing funnel will result in a sales opportunity which can then be passed on to sales. Sales funnels in complex sales require human 1-to-1 interaction and are often face to face. Complex sales are anything where a bespoke solution or pricing is needed.
Here are some examples:
- Selling software with dozens of licenses
- Selling hard to understand products
- Selling products with complex integration needs
- Selling bespoke products
Prospects are all at different levels
Prospects don’t all enter the funnel at the same level, in fact, they can enter at any point with a different need. For example, some will already be aware of the need, so the awareness part of the funnel won’t appeal to them to them, instead, they will enter the at the consideration phase. To have a successful funnel, especially for complex products you need to have a funnel with multiple entry points.
Majority of prospects in the funnel won’t buy
The majority of people you add to the funnel won’t buy, some will never buy. You funnel needs to be able to filter out prospects that will never buy and deal with prospects who aren’t yet ready to buy. The easiest way to filter out leads that will never buy is to qualify prospects as they move through your funnel with content. The same is true for identifying those who aren’t ready to buy but could be in the future. This filtering needs to be done before sales teams get involved. Having a few poor quality leads in an automated digital marketing funnel isn’t an issue. It only becomes an issue when those leads enter a manual process, where every time a person get’s involved it costs money.
Getting started with creating your sales and marketing funnels
If you’re just getting started then go on a step-by-step automated marketing funnel creation journey. If you’re a little more advanced and want to find the marketing tools that will help you create marketing funnels then I recommend ClickFunnels. Read my ClickFunnels review and see if it’s right for your business.
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