The sales funnel is an evocative picture: you can see the wide mouth; you pour in liquids or fine grains, and it slowly trickles into a bottle through a narrow opening after sitting in a larger pool on top. It could take more time, but all the substance is now neatly contained in the bottle.
Simply replace the substance with customers and the bottle with your company and you can see how important it is to be able to take large amounts of potential customers and convert them to increase profits and efficiency.
Therefore, automating the process is essential for creating a sustainable sales structure for long-term growth. But first, let’s define the terms.
What is an Automated Sales Funnel?
The sales funnel is a pathway for potential leads to transform into paying customers. You will need to employ different strategies at each step because you’ll have a higher chance of conversion later on in the funnel. Below I’ll briefly discuss the important stages of the funnel.
- Attention: In this introductory phase at the top of the funnel, most of the arduous work needs to happen just to get a qualified list of leads to move to the second step. Lead generation is key, which I will mention in more detail later.
This is a two-way process. It’s your job to build awareness for your products and services and the interested lead to learn more about them.
The transition from this step to the next is in how well you can manage your leads.
- Consideration: Once you build interest in your product, it’s time to start filtering some of the leads into the narrower part of the funnel before they’re eventually poured into the bottle of customers. The middle stage is the longest.
- Conversion: The final stage is when the customer acts to buy your products or services. By now, you know the customer is willing to go through the sales funnel and your sales reps can convert another lead.
More than anything, this point is a time to reflect on that pathway and figure out how best to improve it through trial and error stats.
Now that we know the basic terms and steps of the sales funnel, an automated sales funnel is one that uses software and tools to guide the lead more efficiently into becoming a customer. But that’s easier said than done.
Benefits of an Automated Sales Funnel
In general, an automated sales funnel is the use of automation software to improve the speed and efficiency of the process. But there are a near infinite number of ways that sales automation can improve your business.
To break it down further, here are the main benefits of automating the sales funnel.
Better Lead Generation
With the rapid increase of AI-powered software tools to automate the lead generation process, businesses have a greater chance at finding more accurate leads for their products and services. Also, artificial intelligence is vital to get leads before your competitors because companies have proven these systems are 200% faster than any other software on the market.
These automation software tools are highly customizable and can qualify a lead by gathering all possible information on them quicker than an army of researchers. This is the trickiest step in the sales funnel, so it’s best to automate lead qualification.
Reducing Costs = Freeing Time
Although it seems counter-intuitive, an expensive piece of software will actually reduce costs. Once you consider the time that team members and managers put into lead generation that may not produce qualified leads, lost productivity adds up much faster.
Freeing human time is directly connected with reducing the costs of the overall sales process. It almost seems unnecessary to say, but if sales reps have more time to focus on sales, they will make more sales. Unfortunately, much of the sales representative’s time is spent on busy work that can easily be automated.
Better Customer and Sales Data
There is a lot of data out there. When automation tools qualify leads through filling data blanks, you receive more accurate and important data. That’s no small task with the amount of lead and prospect data floating around.
And once leads go through the sales funnel, you’ll have even more sales data to use for future sales funnels. You will certainly gain greater clarity in that process over time.
As you can start to see, automation is important for the sales funnel because it increases overall efficiency. Your number one goal is achieving a sale as fast and with as much potential for future sales as possible.
This directly affects how you can increase your profits. As you know, the manager’s goal is to create a team environment with as much efficiency as possible because doing so would increase your revenue. That’s the goal of business in general, so you should use tools to create the best possible successful environment.
Steps to Create an Automated Sales Funnel
Now that we’ve taken a general trip in describing the sales funnel and the importance in automation for it, let’s see the tangible steps you can take to implement that strategy.
Create a Strategy
Before doing a single thing, you need to come up with a strategy. In this crucial decision making process, you’re creating the plan that will set in motion your automated sales funnel. It’s time to consult past sales strategies and other team members to craft the ideal strategy.
Remember to make it both rigid and flexible: rigid enough to be a replicable strategy over time yet flexible enough to change according to different patterns and behaviors that suddenly occur.
Research, target audience, social media
The worst strategy is one without thorough planning and research. This is the only step in which automation doesn’t play a central role, simply because this is the stage in which you find out how best to use automation in conjunction with the research you have.
In general, your research should look for your target audience, who they are, what they do, and on which social media channels are best for your business.
Find the Best Automation Software
After doing enough research, you can choose the best automation software tools for your business. Do you need a better lead generation tool, all-in-one communication hub, or email template builder? You may need to try more than one out, which is fine as long as you find the best tool for your company.
Focus on Lead Magnets
A well-placed lead magnet should be in every company’s marketing arsenal. It’s one of the easiest ways to automatically attract website visitors. Users can find out more about your products and services, while you collect their email address and provide something of value. In one study, consumers were 131% more likely to buy products and services that served them educational content. Not an insignificant increase!
Many automated tools can create pop-ups during informational website visits. You can generate a lead without having to use a second of the sales or marketing team’s time.
Develop an Automated Email Marketing Campaign
The biggest benefit automation brings to the sales funnel is an automated email marketing campaign. CRM tools are the best ways to manage that relationship between a lead and a sales rep. You can create an automated email output to guide the lead down the sales funnel.
Once you send out emails, you should try to capture information. You get this done through landing pages, which have lead capture forms on each page. Marketing automation is a powerful tool, so make sure to consider using it.
Measure, Improve, and Repeat
And finally, no strategy can be good until it is fine-tuned through trial and error. By the bottom of the funnel, you’ll have a funnel filled with paying customers that arrived in separate ways. Examine how they moved through their customer journey to your sales funnel. Talk with your sales team, run the numbers, and go back to your plan.
This applies to all, whether you’re a small business or Apple. Part of the sales funnel process is finding ways to improve and gain better processes. And don’t become dismayed if the strategy didn’t work out to your liking. This is an excellent time to figure out why you’ve had successful sales, or what didn’t work, and improve accordingly.
Creating an automated sales funnel can be instrumental in gaining new leads and acquiring customers. A great place to start is by creating a strategy and using various automation software to move along leads within your funnel. Once you’ve created your funnel, now it’s time to look for improvements. Increasing productivity, conversions, and acquisitions should all be a part of your measurement and improvement plan.
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