This post looks at why your qualified leads aren’t turning into conversions when they go through the sales funnel, and what you can do about it.
A qualified lead is defined as a prospect which has been created by a marketing team, assessed by the sales team, and has the perfect profile of your model customer with the commitment to buy your service offering. The correct qualification of leads is important to creating an optimal sales funnel. But how do you take your lead through the sales funnel? Before we break it down below, let’s look at some more reasons your marketing efforts are NOT attracting leads.
Covered in this article:
Not Attracting Leads From The Outset
- You need to have a tailored marketing plan, one which speaks to your company’s agency and objectives and is aligned with your target customers.
- Your value proposition is essential. It’s the statement which explains clearly why your target customers need to buy from you and how your product or service will add value to their lives. That way you will earn their loyalty and help you stand out from your competitors
- You need to target the right audience with the right message. Your demographics and segmentation needs to be highly refined and narrowed down. You need to understand your target audience’s buying habits and define their buying persona.
- You need to update your marketing strategy. Repeating the same old one just won’t cut it. SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound) are key to aligning your strategies with your clients’ expectations and your own target prospects during the sales journey (prospecting, qualifying prospects, solving their objections and making the sale).
- If you are too orientated around beating your competitors, you miss out on devoting energy to your own efforts. It’s useful to occasionally see what your rivals are up to, but focusing entirely on them is counter-productive and may inhibit your business operations in the long-run.
- If you go big too soon (focusing on one huge marketing channel), you miss seeing the wood for the trees. Spread your channels evenly and with time you will be able to work out which one best serves your campaign. It takes time to research and refine your buyer persona, and content marketing is key to finding out which channel has the most traction.
The Sales Funnel
The sales funnel is the way sales reps change cold prospects into hot leads. These leads can come from content marketing, social media or a landing page. By being mindful of the outreach tactics you can use while the prospect goes through their buyer’s journey, you can convert the buying decisions of prospect leads.
A sales funnel works as a kind of visual representation of the buyer journey from beginning to end, right from their first point of contact with you and your brand through the buying experience, right until a sale has been made. A sales funnel is most narrow at the bottom and wider at the top. Every stage pushes your most qualified prospect to the next stage and gets rid of ex-prospects who don’t qualify as clients for your products or services.
A sales funnel consists of three stages: top, middle and bottom, and helps you to assist customers with their pain points and buyer persona activities. In turn, this helps you choose the right marketing channels, make content relevant to each stage, and convert extra prospects into conversions. Every stage of the sales funnel needs a specific approach because you need to send the right message at the appropriate time.
As sales funnels become longer and more complex, it takes a little bit more work to fill the gaps and stop those leads from slipping away. You’re going to need access to the right data to help you spot these problems from the beginning.
Top Of The Funnel: Interest, Discovery and Awareness
Lead generation through awareness
Your potential customer has initial pain points and they’re considering their options about how to solve them. They may not be aware of what the problem actually is – only the warning signs. They might be trying to define the problem by educating themselves about what might be causing the issue.
Your job as a marketer is to make content that attracts their interest in solving the problem, content that talks to them about the subject matter they’re dealing with. These include videos, blog posts, quizzes, case studies and infographics which provide the crucial information your target audience so desperately is looking for.
At this top funnel stage, your raw prospects become contact-made prospects, and you have generated leads. Now is the time for your sales team to ask them suitable questions and qualify your lead. This takes us to the next stage of the sales funnel: the middle.
Middle Of The Funnel: Decision-Making and Exploration
Lead nurturing through consideration
In the middle stage, your faceless contacts have a name for their problem and they have defined what their problem is. They’re finding out all the possible answers, like the products and services out there – in particular – your products and services. Here, the questions they’ll be asking are no longer generic questions. Instead of “why”, your leads are investigating an extensive range of solutions to solve their pain points. They have a good grasp of their pain points and want to find the solutions.
At this crucial stage, your leads are still not particularly looking at assessing solution providers and their value propositions yet. They’re still looking over the kinds of solutions available to them so they make the most informed decision that they can. Middle funnel strategies include email marketing, social media, paid advertising, how-to guides, gated content, product demos and guides, calls to action and lead scoring (giving new leads a numerical score). This stage is where the handoff between marketing and sales may become the most problematic.
Bottom Of The Funnel: Deciding On The Course Of Action And Choosing A Sale
Lead decision-making through the decision stage
The bottom of the sales funnel is when your prospect is thoroughly informed regarding their problem and pain points, and ready to take action and make a purchase of the best solution for them. Here, the sales team is vital in getting the purchase, but the point isn’t just to get you a near-converted lead to the point of sale.
You should now provide a clear way to long-term success with your personalised product, service or solution. This includes giving them the data that will enable them to integrate the solution into their daily lives. The types of content in the last stage of the sales funnel include customer success tips, demos, training webinars, product applications, blog posts, sales collateral, follow-up email strategies, special offers, shopping carts and bundle packages.
Leaks In The Sales Tunnel Value Chain
As you move through the three stages of the sales funnel, you hand over each level of the funnel to the next to your various teams. However, drop-offs in between these may occur, and with leaks in your funnel, you could be losing sales. Here are some obvious signs that drop-off is happening:
- Your leads follow your funnel’s path inconsistently
- Your lead quality has gotten poorer, and lead quality is unreliable
- You generate plenty of leads, but almost none are moving to the next stage
- Your leads generation has come to a standstill
- Qualified leads get lost during handoff between internal teams
It’s vital that you figure out where these pain points for you are happening and how to fix them. Efficient repairing will make the most return on your marketing spend. Reasons for these leaks may be:
- User experience issues, eg. compatibility problems, bad mobile optimisation and slow loading times.
- Conversion killers: overlong web forms, distracting notifications or popups, and page visits that null your conversions.
- Weak call to action: uncompelling/ineffective call to action may confuse prospects, causing them to leak.
- No action after conversion: lack of follow-up (email confirmation, promotion offers, reminders and loyalty programmes, to name a few) will make new leads drop off.
- Low client retention rate: Your work has just started with conversion – you need to constantly make sure your customer is a repeat buyer.
- Low email engagement: when your primary source of communication isn’t getting the desired engagement
By Improving communication between sales and marketing teams, you create a smooth working environment, helping to mitigate against potential stoppages, bottlenecks and friction between internal teams.
Here’s where account-based marketing (ABM) comes in. ABM is the direct through-line of inbound marketing that draws in qualified leads and gets rid of unqualified leads. Its goal is to provide highly personalised content, delivered at the right time and in the right context. ABM is focused on prospects’ pain points and the benefits of your solutions.
Here, your sales and marketing teams cooperate to foster individualised buyer-journey experiences for a mutually identified proposition of high-value accounts. The benefits of ABM include keeping marketing and sales teams aligned, increasing the relevance of your business, serving customer experiences which are consistent, streamlining the sales funnel and increasing business through long-term account relationships. With these tactics, you ensure the sales funnel is free from blockage and optimised for sales.