The sales funnel method enables your business to track the sales process from beginning to end. It starts with marketing your products and services to your entire target market, and ends with closing sales and bringing new customers on board. Your company’s broad marketing efforts represent the top of the funnel, where you add prospects to your pipeline through marketing efforts. The bottom of the funnel represents the sales that come out the other side.
For most businesses, only a small percentage of prospects that enter the top of the funnel come out the bottom as closed sales, and that is fine. You can maximize this percentage, however, by optimizing the way you work leads through the funnel. One place where leads often get stuck is the middle of the funnel. This is the point where the marketing team hands off the prospect to the sales team. These leads have shown more interest than a basic marketing prospect but are not quite ready to close the deal.
Your business can ramp up its sales funnel by focusing on getting the most out of the “stuck” leads in the middle. With marketing strategies such as lead scoring, lead acceleration, and lead quality checks, you can optimize the middle of your funnel by focusing on the leads that are likely to close and wasting less time on the ones that probably won’t turn into sales.
A good lead scoring model improves your closing rate by allowing you to focus on the leads most easily convertible to sales. For example, if your business uses five different marketing methods to prospect for leads, you can score each method by measuring data such as the percentage of leads that close, and the average revenue or margin per closed sale.
If you find that one or two marketing methods consistently result in better leads that bring more closed sales at higher margins, you can redirect a greater share of your marketing resources toward these methods.
Lead scoring is a great sales strategy to help you better manage stuck leads in the middle of your funnel. Once you know the types of leads most likely to make you money, you can focus on coaxing these leads toward the bottom of the funnel, perhaps using lead acceleration methods as described in the following section. This doesn’t mean you completely abandon the stuck leads generated through other methods, but your biggest resources should always be focused on your best moneymaking opportunities.
Once you identify your most viable leads through lead scoring, you can focus on accelerating them, or doing things that encourage them to work their way down the funnel and eventually become closed sales.
Perhaps the simplest way to accelerate a stuck lead is by following up with the prospect. Stuck leads oftentimes remain stuck because your sales team is overwhelmed with them and lacks the time to follow up with each of them on an individual basis. By culling your stuck lead list and identifying the most potentially profitable ones, you free time to follow up with them, answer any questions they have, and try to overcome their objections.
Some stuck leads need a tangible incentive to make the leap from prospect to paying customer. More aggressive lead acceleration methods that provide such an incentive include offering discounts and creating urgency.
Lead Quality Checks
Several methods exist to gauge the quality of your leads so you can focus on procuring the best leads available. From each lead source, you can track a host of metrics, such as how many leads the source is bringing in, how many out of that number convert to legitimate sales opportunities, and most important, how many sales opportunities result in closed sales.
A lead source that is lacking in one or more of these areas may not be worth continuing to pursue in the future. Adjusting the types of leads your business pursues based on lead quality helps to reduce the number of leads that get stuck in the middle of your sales funnel, where they’re determined to be more than marketing prospects but not quite actual sales opportunities.
You can prioritize the leads already stuck in the funnel by lead source once you’ve gauged the quality of each source. Focus on the leads that come from sources with high conversion rates and strong average revenue or margin per sale. Accelerate these leads first, after which you may find it more profitable to focus on obtaining new leads from the same source rather than accelerating the remainder of your stuck leads from less lucrative sources.