How to Build a B2B Sales Funnel

Ciara Byrne

Building a sales funnel enables businesses to establish the different stages their customers will go through, from the first initial contact up to the purchase of a product or service. A practice like this certainly requires some knowledge in sales and marketing and is one of the best ways to boost your online marketing.

In today’s guide, we will show you how to build a B2B sales funnel and map the way you generate leads online. But first, let’s define what a B2B sales funnel is and how using it can help you see steady growth.

What is a B2B sales funnel and why should you consider it?

By definition, a business-to-business sales funnel helps you guide potential buyers on a path from introducing them to your brand to an actual sale. It helps you promote brand qualities through different stages, increasing sales and retaining more customers.

In practice, using a B2B sales funnel can help you understand the customer journey as a process and see all of the ways you could improve it to boost your sales and generate more revenue.

It all starts with getting prospects into your funnel by attracting them through marketing efforts such as social media posts, cold emails, advertising, etc. You can even promote awareness in micro-steps such as responding individually to online comments found through tools like notifier.so.

Throughout the stages of the sales process and its associated funnel, you’re likely to employ different tactics and content marketing tools to boost your results, depending on where your leads and prospects are in their journey toward becoming a customer. So, take care to match these tools and approaches to each stage for best results.

What are the stages of a B2B sales funnel?

While most of the business-to-consumer (B2C) sales funnels focus on four stages (awareness, interest, desire, and action), the B2B sales funnel has two additional stages which are intent and evaluation. Altogether, these six stages represent the funnel and are meant to be used when digitizing B2B sales and marketing. Let’s look at them in detail:

  1. Awareness: The phase when the potential customer doesn’t know about your product but needs a solution to their problem. Here, you use educational content focused on their demographics (ebooks, blogs, infographics, outreach marketing, etc.) to inform and attract them to your brand and offer.
  2. Interest: In the second stage, you need to trigger interest in your product or service and let the customer know that you can solve their problem. Assuming they have seen multiple brands, you need to stand out with your offer.
  3. Desire: This is the stage where your content marketing needs to work and close the deal. In this stage, a decision is often made, which is why you may also want to consider adding in a promotion or a free trial along with your offer.
  4. Intent: This is the stage where the buyer shows interest but it’s not always clear what the motivation is behind their interest. If you have a sales team, this is where they offer a product demo and launch a conversation to uncover why the buyer is interested — in other words, discover their intent.
  5. Evaluation: In the evaluation stage, your customer reviews all they know about you and see if your product is the right fit.
  6. Action: Lastly, the action stage is what makes or breaks the deal. If they are interested and you have done your job right – qualifying and then satisfying their needs – they will make a purchase. At this point, your mission changes, and you want to turn your new customers into loyal B2B brand advocates who persuade others to do business with you.

How to build & implement a successful B2B sales funnel

Many experts think that a sales funnel is a sequence of stages or phases that go into a single selling process. While we know that trends are changing nowadays, it is important to align your organization and your sales and marketing efforts internally. The B2B sales funnel is an essential part of the operational process, which is the creation of a sustainable strategy for communication with your potential and existing clients. Let’s see some of the best ways to create a B2B sales funnel.

  1. Build a strong pipeline that enhances your sales process

A well-established sales process is one that fills your pipeline with more leads than you need. Then, as these leads filter down through your sales funnel, they either fade away or progress closer and closer toward a sale. To operate successfully, your funnel will have specific stages or benchmarks, and you’ll know how well your pipeline is performing by how many leads reach each stage.

For instance, if you are promoting a webinar, you need to have a specific number of successful sign-ups by a certain date, so the speed with which leads get to the registration phase is important. Or, if you are an e-commerce site running a massive sale, you might want to see that your highest-margin leads are progressing through the stages of your funnel in greater numbers than your low-margin leads to help you reach your overall revenue goals.

One way to achieve this is to pull people into your pipeline using an interactive series of emails that apply the best B2B sales-marketing practices, such as showcasing intriguing features, offering free trials, or getting them to sign up for free events.

The important things here are the when (phase), who (position), and what (task). Your sales funnel stages should have the landmarks for each of these dimensions, and your team’s actions should be arranged to address them.

  1. Improve your team’s sales specialization

Once you create your B2B sales funnel, you will see that the tasks at the top are way different from the ones at the bottom. This is because of your prospects and their maturity in each stage of the journey – an experienced sales manager should understand that selling at the top is more difficult compared to the bottom of the funnel.

This is where sales specialization can help you like a process that lets you focus on each detail of the B2B sales funnel stages. To build an effective sales pipeline, make sure to establish several positions within your team, hire the right people, and equip them with the right sales training.

  1. Make sure you communicate with your prospects at each stage

There are three main sources of communication with the prospect – the sales team, your content marketing, and the reviews of the providers’ clients and third parties. Customers need to receive relevant information in each stage. One important tactic to enable this is an automated email marketing campaign. As a prospect trips a potential trigger at each stage of the funnel, the email campaign sends a relevant message to keep them focused on the right information for that stage.

To ensure the best results, it’s vital to focus on effective copywriting in those email campaigns and make sure your activities are happening in the right order. All other activities should follow the same B2B sales process guidelines to deliver the right information to the prospect at every stage of the prospect’s journey.

  1. Find ways to measure your marketing (especially your conversion rates)

Marketing measurement is essential to know where you are at each point. You should find the best ways to monitor the number of buyers at each stage of the purchase funnel and calculate the conversion rates between these phases. As a result, you will see where your teams have done great work (and analyze their effectiveness) as well as define any weak spots in your promotional or nurturing campaigns so that you can figure out ways to fix them.

Of course, the classic measurements are B2B NPS benchmarks. NPS stands for the “net promoter score,” a 1-to-10 scale that measures a customer’s willingness or attitude about doing business with your company again in the future. Wherever possible, you want to tie your NPS benchmarks to actual revenue earnings, as the results provide a very strong tool for decision-making.

  1. Establish a balance between persuasive and professional

At the end of the day, no one likes hard sales, which is why you need to find a balance with your efforts. You’ll want to appear somewhere in the middle of persuasive and professional – your sales process should be flexible and adaptive to the needs of every buyer.

In an era of micro-targeting and customization, make sure to only aggressively retarget B2B leads that fit your criteria for it, and make your personalized outreach flexible. Don’t be afraid to ask more questions and find more information about your prospect, ask for requests for a proposal, conduct surveys, and track the reactions of your buyers. In the end, align your marketing and sales teams to reflect the key insights from these observations.

Final thoughts

Building a dysfunctional sales funnel can be a major roadblock to growing your business and enhancing the overall goals of your sales and marketing team. No matter how good your content is or how well trained your team members are, failing to map out the stages in a way that attracts and retains the right customers can create multiple funnel leaks and lead to disappointing results.

That is why you need to start with your B2B sales funnel and build from there. Investigate your marketing and sales messages, rethink your offer, and see whether it addresses the pain points of your customers. There is a lot of work involved in building a successful B2B sales funnel – still, the more you test and try, the better your value offers and results will be.

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