Understanding Your Sales Funnel

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As we enter December, those in the retail space are holding on to their hats as they navigate their busiest sales season. However, for B2B businesses this can often feel like the point at which the year is winding down, as their client base start thinking less about bringing in new services and more about who’s going to arrange the Christmas party. Whilst that may be the case, this commercial down time is the perfect opportunity for analysing the effectiveness of your sales funnel and making improvements ready to hit the ground running in the New Year.

A good place to start when assessing the effectiveness of your sales funnel is to understand whether it is a journey or a leads issue. If your sales strategy seems to be working well, with a consistent and high conversion rate, then congratulations! You’re one of only 22% of companies that are satisfied with their conversions, according to Econsultancy. But, that doesn’t mean there still aren’t ways to improve your profits. If your funnel is working like a well-oiled engine, then increasing the input is a sure fire way to increase sales.

Increasing your number of leads could be a conversation for your marketing and business development teams, but if you are using a third party organisation to provide you initial outreach, then December is the ideal opportunity to spend time strategising with them. These organisations are a great resource of high volume leads, but, as a recent survey by Marc Wayshak Sales Insights revealed, at least 50% of prospects are likely to not be a good fit for what you sell. The informed curation of your prospect lists is crucial, so feeding back to your third party providers is important to ensure that the leads you are getting are of the highest quality and are targeted correctly. By examining the output of your sales funnel, you can understand what particular industry sectors, company sizes or even locations contribute to the majority of your conversions, and how different demographics react to certain products or services. This information is gold dust to lead generation companies, so a December spent extracting this data and communicating it to them is a December well spent.

If, however, it seems that there are certain stages of your sales funnel that are holding you back from success, this can be a slightly longer process to rectify. The analysis and action points needed, whilst not necessarily difficult, can be time consuming – making it the perfect activity for the slow period at the tail end of Q4. If you have revenue targets you need to reach, understanding the conversion rate at each step of your funnel can help you focus your efforts on the areas that need most improvement – saving you time (and making you money) in the long run.

It’s common for different parts of your customers’ sales journeys to take place over multiple platforms and therefore being able to understand all of those touch points is very important. A customer may come to your site via a paid advertisement, signed up to a newsletter through your website, downloaded a demo promoted by email and then spoken to a sales person who makes a follow up call. Whilst each of these steps happens independently, you need to understand where in the journey the prospect is and the necessary data around that. Being able to tie together the online behaviour and your sales team performance will give you full insight in to the experience your leads are having with your brand before they become a customer, helping you refine your journey.

If many of your journeys are ending with a ‘No”, this could be another area to look in to. Like bad relationships and missed job opportunities, rejections in sales can feel heartbreaking – but there is so much to learn from them. Understanding the reasons why a potential client doesn’t want to go to the next step of your sales process can be invaluable in identifying quick fixes. – perhaps it’s as simple as tweaking a certain call to action. It’s also important to differentiate between a ‘No’ and a ‘Not Right Now’, as you can continue to nurture the latter for when it’s a more appropriate time.

As well as understanding the nuances in rejection, understanding the type of consumer certain sales routes are winning is invaluable. Keep an eye out for quality over quantity – which of your strategies are driving a lower volume of initial sales but attracting loyal returning customers? Analysing this not only allows you to capitalise on sales opportunities but it can also give you a more accurate idea on the return from your acquisition spend.

So, there you have it! Rather than languishing in December lethargy, use the time effectively and you can look forward to a guilt free Christmas knowing your ducks (or should that be turkeys?) are in a row ready for January 1st.

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