A well-structured B2B sales funnel helps generate more sales and optimizes the sales process. It helps business owners understand the process of turning a stranger into a paying customer. Unfortunately, 68% of B2B businesses do not have an understanding of their own sales funnel.
A sales funnel refers to a series of stages and steps that B2B customers go through to complete a sales cycle. It helps B2B businesses sell their goods or services to clients, which makes it a vital part of the B2B business plan. The process starts with a lead who has a specific requirement, and ends with a customer who makes a purchase. It is important for B2B businesses to create a sales funnel that converts potential clients into paying customers. In this post, we’ll share the various aspects of the B2B sales funnel you should know. Let’s dive deep to learn more.
5 Stages of the B2B Sales Funnel
The B2B sales funnel should be included in the business planning for B2B companies in order to boost sales effectively and efficiently. Continue reading to learn about the 5 stages of the B2B sales funnel –
1. Awareness Stage
The first stage of the B2B sales funnel is the awareness stage, where B2B customers look for answers to solve their problems. It can be any type of problem, including both front-end and back-end operations. Though the value of the lead is low in this stage, providing them with high-level and relevant content is important to attract them. You can offer resources, data, education, opinions, and insights to solve your target audience’s problem.
2. Interest Stage
In this stage, the prospects are interested and will start researching your products or services. It is the beginning of the buying process, where trust is built. You can show the prospects what your products and services can do for them to further nurture the leads in this stage.
3. Evaluation Stage
Once you have captured the buyer’s interest, it’s time to demonstrate how your solution meets the consumer’s needs in a detailed manner. If your solution is not in their best interest or does not satisfy the customer’s needs currently, you should inform them about this because it will increase trust. Demonstrating honesty and integrity at this crucial stage might be beneficial in the future.
4. Engagement Stage
In the engagement stage, your leads will be in touch with the sales team. They will get to know the buyer’s pain points and help them reach the solutions using product demos, sales pitches, and clear communication. Building the relationship and developing trust is important in this stage to move the lead to the last stage.
5. Purchase Stage
This is the stage when the customer purchases your products and services, and you reach the end of the sales funnel. But, it is not the end of the relationship with the customer. Post-purchase engagement is also important to keep the customer happy and build a strong B2B sales pipeline. After all, 84% of B2B sales start with a referral from friends or colleagues.
Models of the B2B Sales Funnel
There are several models of the B2B sales funnel that were developed during the evolution of the buying process. Though a B2B sales consulting expert can help you with the right sales process, here’s all you need to learn about the sales models and their pros and cons:
- The AIDA Model
American businessman E.St. Elmo Lewis developed AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action) in 1898, which was the very first sales funnel. It described the perfect ad formula. Later, marketers added and renamed certain phases, but the idea remained the same. In B2B sales, AIDA is used as–
- Awareness: The first phase is when decision-makers discover a product or service.
- Evaluation: Decision-makers compare the products/services with similar products and analyze their pros and cons.
- Intention: They make the final decision of choosing the right provider.
- Purchase: In the last phase, customers buy the product/service.
This model educates the sales and marketing teams about how buyers make purchasing decisions. However, it does not consider the buyer’s thoughts and behavior.
- The Forrester Model
The Forrester model sheds light on the important factors influencing the purchaser’s behavior. One of the drawbacks of this model is that it describes a buyer’s journey, rather than the multistage sales funnel. Forrester made various reports on the marketing funnel, and in 2010, it issued a report which created a better understanding of the buyer’s behavior. It offered to expand the marketing funnel by adding loyalty as the next stage. After that, in 2012, Jeff Ernst, a Forrester analyst, came up with an idea to merge the marketing funnel and customer lifecycle.
- McKinsey’s Loyalty Loop
McKinsey presented a loyalty loop model in 2009 that focuses on how a positive post-purchase experience contributes to reselling. This model encompasses the post-purchase & repurchases stages and loyalty as part of the desired buyer attitude.
- The Conversion Funnel
The conversion funnel explains the sales process a prospect goes through while purchasing online. The stages added in this model are – the pre-awareness stage, a trigger event, opinion, a short list, and repurchase intent.
- JB Media Group’s Sales Funnel
This sales funnel model by JB Group is perfect for marketers because it explains what type of content works for potential customers in each phase. This model also covers the guidelines on what you should do at every stage of the funnel. But, it does not talk about the efforts required of a sales team.
- RAIN Group’s Buying Process
The RAIN group does not explain the sales funnel, but instead talks about the activities of the sales team at each stage. Though it does not provide guidelines for marketers, your sales team can benefit from it as it is the perfect combination of buying and sales processes.
You can decide to go with any of the models mentioned above according to your business requirements.
Improve the Sales Effectiveness and Efficiency of Your B2B Firm with Company Expert
Although every business requires a different B2B sales funnel to fit its unique sales strategy, the stages and information outlined above are important for all to build a successful sales funnel. The skilled professionals at Company Expert understand that the sales funnel is the heart and soul of a B2B business. We can help you with the right people, processes, and sales playbook template to drive double-digit sales growth. You can partner with us to improve the sales efficiency and effectiveness of your B2B firm. Visit the website to learn more about our services.