Proven Sales Funnel Template to Increase Closed Deals
The term “sales funnel” describes the series of touchpoints a prospect has with your business as they move through the purchasing decision.
A high-quality, thoughtfully designed sales funnel can make a dramatic difference to your conversion rates and, ultimately, your bottom line.
In this article, we’ll share the benefits and key components of a well-built sales funnel, as well as a free sales funnel template to get you started on your own.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What Is a Sales Funnel?
- How to Understand Your Sales Funnel
- Using Your Sales Funnel to Improve Your Close Strategy
- The Optimal Sales Funnel Template
What Is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is an essential component of any successful sales process. Put simply, a sales funnel is all the ways a prospective customer engages with your business as they move through the customer’s journey.
Many companies mistakenly assume that once customers reach their product page or website, most of the marketing and sales work is done. They expect that customers are on the verge of buying. But research shows that a whopping 96% of customers who visit a company website are, in fact, not yet ready to buy.
There’s a lot that needs to happen — both customer-facing and behind the scenes for salespeople — between a prospective customer’s first engagement with your company and the time they sign a contract; a sales funnel is the tool that can help you take control of this process.
To be clear, a sales funnel is different from a sales plan or a sales process map. The decision to use a sales funnel is a marketing strategy, and most of the funnel will end up being customer-facing. On the other hand, a sales process map is for internal use only.
Sales teams often work alongside marketing teams to design sales funnels. It’s worth the time it will take to collaborate between teams — a high-converting funnel can significantly boost your sales metrics and KPIs.
How to Understand Your Sales Funnel
The specifics of a sales funnel will look different from company to company, but they all follow a basic three-stage framework.
For each of the sales funnel stages, optimization is extremely important. You want to convert as many leads as possible through each stage of the funnel and move them onto the next; keywords and SEO work are important, but optimization shouldn’t stop there.
Make sure your landing page, sales page, blog posts, and social media content are all up to snuff. The sales process should be seamless all the way from the top of the funnel to the final follow-up. Companies that make their buying process easy are 62% more likely to win a high-quality sale.
Now, let’s look at each stage of the funnel below, plus a sales funnel template that includes ideal touchpoints at each stage.
Top Of the Funnel: Interest/Awareness
The top of the funnel is the widest part, and it’s where you’ll interact with the largest volume of prospective customers.
At this stage of the funnel, buyers are aware of (or starting to learn about) their problems and pain points. Ideally, with a targeted digital marketing campaign, these prospects will come across your business as they’re researching their problem.
Offer them value through opt-in content marketing; gather as many email addresses as you can at the top of the funnel. Content such as blog posts, tip sheets, checklists, or other lead magnets are all great ways to start building trust with potential customers and lead them into the next stage.
Middle of the Funnel: Research/Evaluation
The funnel starts to get narrower as you move through the three stages. This means you’ll lose some prospects at the top. That’s okay — the funnel, if it’s designed correctly, will weed out unqualified leads and push more qualified ones through into the middle stage.
During the middle stage of the funnel, your goal is to focus on targeted lead generation. Prospects are now weighing their options and figuring out which solution might work best for them.
It’s important that your content during this stage is highly valuable, and customized to whatever extent possible. The content might include case studies or testimonials, webinars, or drip email campaigns.
It’s worth it to hop on a phone call or send a personalized email to prospects at this stage to learn more about their needs. This kind of communication will open up opportunities for customized content and support through the buying process. You want your interactions to be valuable enough that qualified leads will be eager to move to the next stage.
This stage can get complicated as you nurture various leads through their own individual customer journey — don’t let that intimidate you. Make sure your sales reps are maximizing the functionality of your CRM, which will help you monitor each buyer’s individual progress through the funnel.
By the end of this stage, you may have leads that are already prepared to become paying customers — a powerful CTA can tip the scales in your favor, so don’t hesitate to include one.
Bottom of the Funnel: Purchase
At the bottom of the funnel, you should be ready to discuss and overcome any lingering sales objections the prospect might have. It’s also appropriate to discuss pricing; many companies have success in this stage of the funnel with a tiered pricing page that outlines the purchasing options.
One of the benefits of a well-designed sales funnel is that, by this stage, you’re typically only engaging with highly qualified, almost ready-to-buy leads. If the funnel is designed well, the close should be relatively painless; most of the legwork will have been done earlier in the funnel. You might even consider offering an upsell, which can increase your revenue by up to 30%.
For those leads who might still be on the fence, high-value content like a free consulting call or a free trial might help them get to yes.
Remember that no matter how many leads you ultimately convert, don’t lose sight of the most important thing: the customer’s trust and your relationship with them. There are simple ways to make this kind of statement at the end of the funnel. For example, a thank you page with video directions for a smooth onboarding process is one easy way to show the customer that you’ll remain committed to their success even after the deal is done.
Using Your Sales Funnel to Improve Your Close Strategy
The sales funnel can be a hugely valuable tool in your business when it’s designed and implemented correctly. A well-oiled funnel helps you invest the right resources to the right prospects at the right time.
In many ways, an optimized sales funnel can mimic the principles of target account selling; the benefit of applying these principles to a funnel design is that the process becomes standardized and automated.
But how can you use your funnel to improve your most important metric: your close rate?
There are several strategies you can utilize across the funnel to boost your closing strategy.
Define Your Customer Persona
Sales reps should collaborate with their marketers to define their customer persona.
By defining your customer persona, you optimize the top of the funnel. A targeted customer persona will help marketers refine their marketing strategies and campaigns to capture more leads who are a predetermined good fit for your product. This will maximize the number of warm leads who move through to the middle of the funnel.
Use Social Selling
Adopting a social selling strategy is another great way to optimize your funnel, especially at the top. Nearly 75% of buyers and 85% of decision-makers use social media to help make purchasing decisions.
Check out our new 2021 guide to social selling to start incorporating some of these strategies and improve your sales funnel.
Invest in Landing Pages and Sales Pages
Increasing the number of landing pages available to your prospects can have a dramatic impact on the number of leads you generate. In fact, companies who create 30 or more landing pages generate 7x the number of leads as companies who use fewer than 10.
No need to overcomplicate these; landing pages can be any of the following:
- Blog posts
- FAQ page
- Pricing page
- Home page
- Sales page
- Competitor comparison page
- Case studies
You may also consider investing in a copywriter and/or web design service to create a long-form sales or landing page. Admittedly, this kind of content won’t be appropriate for every business or product, and it may require some significant A/B testing or other metric-monitoring over a longer period of time. But for the right businesses, long-form landing pages earn 220% more leads than above-the-fold CTAs.
Strengthen Your CTA
Speaking of calls to action, make sure yours is thoughtful and strong. Many companies treat the CTA as a throwaway component, adding it in almost as an afterthought. Don’t make this mistake; a powerful CTA can be transformative for your conversion rate.
Tweak as Needed
A sales funnel should be treated as a living, breathing document. Expect that all stages of the funnel, as well as the process as a whole, will be scrutinized over time.
Spend time each month analyzing your metrics and KPIs that come out of the funnel. Then, make tweaks and changes until you’ve maximized conversion rates through each stage. You’ll start to notice better close rates as you continue to improve your funnel.
The Optimal Sales Funnel Template
While every company will have their own unique funnel that converts best for their needs, there is an optimal template to use as a jumping-off point.
This template gives suggestions and examples for touchpoints at each stage of the funnel, as well as some blank space to fill in your own. It outlines where your prospects are in the buying journey, how they’ll interact with your business at that stage, and how to convert them to the next one.
Feel free to copy and paste the sales funnel template here.
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