Conversion rate optimization | June 12, 2024

How to Optimize Your Sales Funnel for Maximum Conversions?

Curt VanderWall

Every sale missed or lost eventually hurts your bottom line. Unfortunately, it happens—more often than you’d think. Despite weeks of demos, pitches, and follow-up emails, your lead may decide to drop out of the sales funnel without ever hitting the buy button. Reportedly, only 33% of reps claimed to have attained their quotas in 2023.

In this advanced guide, we’ll explore how you can avoid this with effective strategies on sales funnel optimization that you can apply across the customer lifecycle.

What Is a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel represents the path your potential customers take—from encountering your product for the first time to making a purchase.

This journey is segmented into three main stages: the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. Obviously, these stages will depend on the organization’s sales goals and strategy.

What Are the Stages of the Sales Funnel?

Your sales manager does not need to go through the painful process of cold-calling and selling with no end in sight. This is possible if they create a sales funnel right at the start—that is when prospects are beginning to show genuine interest in your offering.

Typically, your sales team will convert prospects into returning customers across five stages of a sales funnel, with each stage categorized into the top, middle, and bottom. As your prospects progress through the funnel, your leads list will become narrower.

Seasoned sales professionals talk about prospects being at the top or bottom of the sales funnel to indicate their lead’s position within the buying journey.

Stage 1: Awareness

You won’t see sales success if prospects are unaware of your brand, including what it offers and what makes it different.

In the awareness stage, your prospect are starting to know more about your company— kicking off the process of the sales funnel.

They can discover your brand via cold calling, referrals, cold emails, outbound campaigns, viral social media posts, or even podcasts.

Important tips to keep in mind at the Awareness stage include:

  • Leverage your buyer persona from day one so that you don’t have to experience churn later on;
  • Connect with the person who can make the buying decision within the company instead of speaking to other members.

Stage 2: Evaluation

The evaluation stage is as important for the B2B sales rep as it is for customers.

Here’s why: Your sales rep will use strategic questioning to analyze whether the lead should qualify as a suitable customer at this point.

Let’s look at the spa booking software industry as an example. Your sales reps might ask prospective customers questions surrounding the size and scope of their business, their services, pain points, and software needs.

They’ll also be addressing the prospect’s questions to clear out the air.

On the off chance that the inbound lead is not a good fit, don’t set up that meeting or call—it will be a waste of resources, effort, and time.

Once your qualified leads are in, go the extra mile. Do additional research to understand your leads’ problems and devise ways to iron them out. At this point, your leads are primed for the middle stages of the sales funnel.

Stage 3: Engagement

The engagement stage is all about keeping your brand top of mind for high-quality prospects. Remember, your leads are well into the middle of the sales funnel.

For instance, drive email outreach to help customers make the right purchasing decision. You can elevate the engagement levels with valuable, user-driven content in the form of ungated eBooks, white papers, pricing details, and webinar sessions to get your lead hooked.

Use these tips to improve the engagement quality within your sales funnel:

  • Create a custom email signature with instant clickable links to useful sections of your website and brand;
  • Promote your viral blog posts, data-backed infographics, etc., in front of the right eyeballs;
  • Don’t chase after leads that don’t fit into your buyer profile.

Stage 4: Decision

The Decision stage is action-oriented.

Congratulations! By now, your leads are at the top of the B2B sales funnel.

If the prospect has positively decided to purchase from your brand, you’re in the final leg of the sales funnel.

Stage 5: Referral

Know that the B2B sales funnel doesn’t end at stage 4. You must focus on your retention efforts, which is what we call the Referral stage.

Done right, you can get more revenue for your company and drive more awareness for your brand.

To make the most of the Referral stage, monitor important metrics such as your lead generation key performance indicators. This data will offer insights into your sales funnel, regardless of how your customers reach your brand.

8 Best Ways to Optimize Your Sales Funnel for Maximum Conversions

Let’s dive into the “how” part and look at how you can optimize your sales funnel and get quality leads—from top to bottom of the B2B sales funnel.

Think – Who is Your Audience?

First things first, understand who your audience is by:

  • Identifying your perfect customer and creating a comprehensive buyer persona or two;
  • Building on insights gathered, such as the time a prospect spends on your website, the links they click, and so on;
  • Analyzing the type of content prospects are looking at and interacting with.

This strategy sets the right roots for your sales strategy. Imagine if a brand like Oatside catered to dairy drinkers instead of people who were environment-conscious or people with gut issues:

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You need to understand your audience’s motivations and preferences so that you can market content accordingly, as Oatside brilliantly demonstrates below:

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Think about your prospect’s pain points, what they dislike about your competitors, and what are the influential factors that would compel them to purchase from you:

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The more time you spend on creating a buyer persona initially, the higher the chances of your leads meeting the qualification criteria for your product fit.

Ask – What Are Your Goals? How Will You Track Them?

By now, you have a good understanding of who your ideal customer is, including what annoys them and what their wants look like at every step of the buyer journey.

The next logical step is to elaborate on your sales goals.

Categorize your sales funnel into bottom, middle, and top, and evaluate how your customers will interact at every step. For instance, how will you:

  • Boost visits to your key landing page as your top-of-funnel objective;
  • Enhance interaction with prospects during your mid-funnel campaigns;
  • Triple your sales conversions at the funnel’s end.

Note that every sale goal you outline will be unique to your business use case.

Revisit – Are You Using Email Addresses as Quality Lead Magnets?

Take a closer look at how you’re leveraging email to attract—and nurture—quality leads:

  • Create meaningful content that prompts sign-ups. You can add exclusive insights and special discounts and offer early access to new features to start with;
  • Segment your email list to tailor messages and ensure you’re providing relevant information that keeps leads engaged and moving through the funnel;
  • Develop personalized and engaging emails that speak directly to your audience’s needs, interests, and search history, as Airbnb demonstrates here.

Brainstorm – Is Your Content Solving Real-Life Customer Problems?

You could have the best-written marketing content in the world—creative, filled with puns, and beautiful to look at.

But if your content doesn’t solve the reader’s issues in a tangible way, your customers won’t stay long.

Consider a brand like Real Simple. Their website is a great example of how to effectively address the needs of their audience. They focus on providing practical solutions to everyday problems, which keeps their readers coming back for more:

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You’ve got articles on style, healthy recipes, apparel, and more. The brand’s Instagram handle reflects the same loyal readership with 2 million followers:

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Every piece of content being put up is relatable, value-driven, and engaging. It’s no surprise then that this website boasts 151 million annual readers!

Pro tip: If you are unsure how to start optimizing your content, look at what your competitors are doing. Identify the blind spots and see how you can level their strategy to your advantage!

When It Comes to Your Landing Pages: Optimize, Optimize, Optimize!

Your landing pages are the front door to your business. If they aren’t optimized, you risk losing potential customers right at the entrance.

Here’s how to ensure your landing pages are doing their job effectively:

  • Focus on compelling headlines where every headline clearly communicates your value proposition;
  • Design your landing page to be visually appealing but not cluttered. Use clean, professional design with high-quality images and plenty of white space to keep the visitor’s focus on your key messaging;
  • Create persuasive and concise copy that highlights the benefits of your product. Use bullet points for easy readability. Your visitors should understand what you offer and why it’s valuable within a few seconds;
  • Include a strong call to action (CTA) by placing it prominently. Make it action-oriented and easy to find. Use contrasting colors to encourage visitors to take the next step, whether it’s signing up for a newsletter, downloading a resource, or making a purchase;
  • Don’t forget about loading speed, as slow landing pages can boost bounce rates. Optimize images, minimize the use of heavy scripts, and use a reliable hosting service to ensure your page loads quickly;
  • Use A/B testing to experiment with different headlines, images, copy, and CTAs. Analyze the data to see what works best and continuously improve your landing pages based on said insights.

Optimizing your landing pages ensures a smooth and immersive experience for your visitors. Naturally, this increases the likelihood of conversions and helps move prospects further down the sales funnel.

Are Customers Connecting with Your Communication at a Personalized Level?

Any high-performing sales manager will tell you that engagement starts with personalization or, more specifically, personalized communication.

So, think – Are you making sure your communication resonates with each customer on an individual level?

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Here’s how to enhance that connection:

  • Strategize with PPC ads and SEO to get prospects to your brand’s digital doorstep. Your ads must focus on your prospect’s immediate and cater to their current interests. For instance, Nike engaged in PPC advertising to get customers to purchase on sale days;
  • Use a mix of infographics, videos, blogs, and interactive content to get prospects hooked to your content. For prospects considering your product, provide case studies, how-to guides, and product explainer videos that offer real value and insight;
  • Share useful resources such as bookmarkable checklists, ungated tools, and whitepapers to keep your customers loyal. Mix in lead generation content, such as webinars, podcasts, etc., to maintain interest and add value;
  • Set up a drip email campaign to deliver relevant content at just the right time. This helps nurture your relationship with the buyer and ensures they receive the information they need exactly when they need it;
  • Build before you pitch to lay the groundwork for a successful sales funnel. The end goal is to provide value at each stage and help prepare your customers for the product demo (making them more likely to convert).

Remember, hyper-personalized communication will help you move prospects through the sales funnel and convert them into brand-obsessed customers.

Is Social Media A Part of Your Conversion Rate Optimization Strategy?

If you want a lesson on how to use your social media handle to convert customers and engage in impactful conversion rate optimization, look no further than HubSpot’s example:

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Every post engages the reader. You’ll either get your hands on the latest reports or get a laugh with meme-worthy content!

You can encourage user-generated content by motivating customers to share their experiences with photos, honest product reviews, testimonials, and more, as Redbull does on “X”:

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Is Providing the Best Customer Service Your Constant North Star?

Offering quality customer service means different things for different brands. For some, it means responding to every customer review—be it good or bad—instantly. For others, it refers to acting on relevant customer feedback.

You can also define your customer experience as providing personalized experiences, being easily accessible through various channels, demonstrating empathy towards customers, and actively listening to the customer’s concerns.

It often involves going above and beyond what your customers want to help you build organic, sustainable customer relationships.

No matter which way you slice the CX cake, you need a solid customer service plan to make stellar customer service your constant North Star.

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Here are some tips worth looking into and customizing based on your sales, marketing, and customer support strategy:

  • Make it easy for customers to reach you. You can offer multiple channels of communication such as phone, email, live chat, and social media as Lululemon does. You can shop with a product expert. Chat with the team live. Self-help your way into common questions using the brand’s knowledge base;
  • Respond to customer issues as quickly as possible. A fast response shows customers that you value their time. For instance, Canva is quick on its responses on LinkedIn and offers solutions at the moment instead of asking customers to jump through hoops to get to a satisfactory answer;
  • Train your customer service team to handle wide-ranging issues and empower them to make decisions. For example, Ritz-Carlton gives employees a budget to spend on making every single guest’s experience exceptional without needing approval from a manager;
  • Seek and use customer feedback to improve your offering. For example, emulate Slack’s practice of sending out surveys regularly to gather feedback on what’s working (and what isn’t). This goldmine of information is then used to make meaningful improvements to the platform.

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3 Best Sales Funnel Optimization Tools for More Conversions

Now that you have a good understanding of what’s a sales funnel and how to optimize it, we’re offering three useful platform suggestions you can leverage for different sales use cases:

KyLeads – Best-suited for Lead Generation

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KyLeads markets itself as a popup and quiz maker to elevate your lead generation game. It offers a range of flexible tools to:

  • Monetize website visitors with personalized messaging in popups and quizzes;
  • Segment leads, grow your email list, and target specific visitors with smart messaging;
  • Engage in deep customization with custom opt-in forms your customers care about;
  • Get personalized reports to help you get into the weeds of your lead-generation performance.

The insights you gain with the popups and quizzes you create can further be used to better your sales funnel strategy and optimize your messaging according to the audience’s evolving demands.

In other words, you can tweak your sales funnel and keep up with what your audience wants while boosting your leads and sales simultaneously.

Nifty – Best for Goal Setting and Tracking

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If goal setting and tracking are high on your list of must-have sales features, Nifty is the tool for you. With Nifty goal setting template, you can go as granular as you like for your goal-setting needs:

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You can set the goal name and be as descriptive as possible. Set up a target date. Assign it to an available resource. Create your target metrics.

The platform comes with in-built parameters such as Target, Track Metric, and Progress Source.

Here’s a quick snapshot of how Goals works within this all-in-one productivity platform. You can:

  • Track workspace-level initiatives as well as personal and team KPIs using Lists, Selected Tasks, and Custom Fields;
  • Unite goals for two or more teams for a specific use case and align the end product better with organizational and customer goals. For example, you can align the goals of your product development team with those of your marketing team for a new feature product launch.

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With Nifty, you can use goals in different ways, fundamentally changing how you set and track them. For instance, you could set a goal for a team to close 100 tasks, track 40 hours individually, or complete all tasks with a specified tag.

As your goals become easily trackable, you’ll be able to measure targets, meet timelines, and make your customers happy! An automated progress-tracking process can save your team hundreds of hours that could be used to deliver an exceptional product or customer experience.

ActiveCampaign – Best for Email Marketing

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ActiveCampaign is a one-stop email marketing, automation, and sales engagement tool. It is worth your investment if you want to create always-on and responsive email marketing flows.

Here’s what sets it apart from its competitors:

  • It offers hundreds of automation triggers and actions to personalize your email marketing campaign;
  • You can use its powerful AI-powered drag-and-drop builder to set up an omnichannel email marketing campaign;
  • Use the tool’s automation-first approach, personalization tags, and dynamic content features to send personalized emails to every customer. Your emails can be created around your customer’s interests, likes, preferences, and so on;
  • Send a campaign that adjusts automatically based on your customer data. Its predictive and conditional content features remove the guesswork and ensure only the most relevant content is displayed;
  •  You can assign attributes to each person, group contacts with similar tags, and create new tags automatically based on customer’s actions, behaviors, and integrations.

Ready to Dive into Sales Funnel Optimization?

There you go. Optimizing your sales funnel for maximum conversions mandates a strategic approach that focuses on:

  • Understanding your audience’s pain points, likes, habits, behavior, and so on;
  • Setting clear sales goals that align with your organization’s objectives;
  • Providing customer-centric valuable content that prospects would like to read, sign up for, or download;
  • Leveraging the right email marketing, lead generation, and goal-setting tools to elevate your sales performance.

Leverage the strategies outlined in this guide to build a more effective sales funnel—one that drives quality leads and increases your bottom line.

Remember, sales funnel optimization is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring so don’t get stuck with an out-of-sight-out-of-mind approach. Good luck!

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