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Optimize Your Funnel: Tips for Streamlining Your Sales Process

by Lois Earles

The average B2B sale takes over two months to complete. In that time, there are several steps in the sales process, ranging from prospecting and outreach to closing and post-sale follow up. An effective sales funnel helps streamline these activities, allowing your sales team to close more deals in less time.

Here are some tips to optimize funnel performance:

1. Capture leads the right way.

Sellers spend more time than they need to on lead generation — getting new prospects to enter the funnel doesn’t need to be difficult.

All businesses have different strategies for capturing leads (depending on their sales process, ICP, and industry), but the best ways to generate new leads are:

  • Content marketing
  • Cold calling directly to the ICP
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Opt-in forms for web visitors
  • Social media outreach
  • Referral and affiliate programs

The main point of a lead capture isn’t to make an immediate sale. Instead, your goal should be to get their contact information to add a lead to the sales funnel.

2. Qualify your leads the right way.

There’s no way around it: not every lead will be qualified for your product. To optimize your funnel, you need to make sure unqualified leads are kept to a minimum.

There are three stages a lead moves through before becoming fully qualified.

• Lead: the prospective buyer shows initial interest in your product, be it a website visit, materials download, or content share.

• Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): the prospect has downloaded or shared multiple information pieces, signed up for an email list, and revisited the site multiple times.

• Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): the potential customer downloads buying guides, white papers, pricing pages, and may have already reached out to a member of the sales team.

To maximize sales process efficiency and improve the conversion rate, reps should only enter the equation once a lead becomes an SQL.

3. Have a short and effective screening process.

Before an intro call, prospects should be prompted to fill out some customer information through an email/Google form. If they booked the call on their own, an AI chatbot should gather their information through a series of questions.

This saves the sales rep time during the qualification process and helps them prepare before the meeting.

Once on the call with an SQL, typical dialogue includes:

  • Exploring their familiarity with the product/service
  • Uncovering challenges they are facing in their business
  • Focusing on why they need your product, how it can help them, and which products would work best
  • Recording other decision-makers and gatekeepers
  • Qualifying them based on company size, budget, timeline, and goals

The seller shouldn’t try to close the prospect during this call. It is simply the first point of contact (of which there will be several more).

4. Only give customers the information they need.

During your product demos, don’t worry about showing the whole product if they aren’t looking for an all-in-one solution. Show them how you can solve their exact challenge instead of overwhelming them with features they won’t need.

This same concept applies to your follow-up emails and marketing materials — provide the customer with only what’s important to them.

5. Use sales enablement tools to automate tasks.

Sales enablement tools help you quickly and easily optimize your funnel by automating mundane, repetitive tasks. For example, you can use automation to personalize emails or send follow-up materials after a call.

Most importantly, sales enablement software presents you with content you can share with your prospects that drives them toward a purchase decision, a process that would normally take hours of digging through company information repositories.

In addition to saving time, sales enablement tools are great for tracking prospects’ engagement and measuring the effectiveness of your sales process.

6. Re-engage leads that didn’t convert.

Not every lead is ready to buy at the time you talk with them, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. Ask yourself whether it’s worth investing time in re-engaging a lead that didn’t convert. If the answer is yes, there are several strategies you can use:

  • Send emails with helpful content that is personalized to their pain points.
  • Reach out on social media with demos and case studies.
  • Nurture them through automated drip campaigns.
  • Follow up with an online survey.
  • Invite them to webinars and virtual events.

The optimal cadence for outreach varies, but a good rule of thumb is to reach out several times (most reps give up after three or four, but those who do are leaving money on the table).

Final Thoughts

With the right optimization strategies, you can build a sales funnel that increases your team’s efficiency and helps convert more prospects into customers. Remember: the key is to make sure your reps have access to qualified leads, and that those leads have been properly screened and qualified for your product or service. Once you have that in place, your sales process will become a lot more streamlined.

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