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Better Sales Funnel Transition Means Better Conversion Rates

October 23, 2015
By Tracey E. Schelmetic - Telemarketing Software Contributor

While there may be a lot of new theories in selling lately – most of them due to improving technology and the changing ways people communicate – the core structure at the base of the selling process largely remains the same as it has been since ancient times. The sales funnel, or the funnel-shaped diagram that represents the increasingly narrowing structure that prospects go through on their way to becoming customers, is still just as relevant as it was decades ago. At the widest part of the funnel are unqualified prospects, as most companies have many of those. As effective sales techniques are applied, the structure begins to narrow, leading to Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Intent, Purchase and finally Loyalty at the narrowest point of the funnel.

It’s not enough, however, to simply be aware of the nature of the sales funnel. To apply the principle to real-world sales, companies need to understand how their prospects and customers transition through the layers of the funnel, from unqualified prospects at the top to loyal customers below, according to a recent blog post by Zach Heller writing for Business2Community. You should also be aware of conversion rates from each level to the next, because as the old saying goes, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

“The truth is, most marketers over time will focus on all levels of the funnel,” wrote Heller. “But you want to start where you see the most opportunity. Where is your conversion rate lowest? Where are most people falling out of the funnel? If it’s a toss-up, flip a coin. Know that you can’t go wrong. If you improve one level of the funnel, it should improve the overall performance. Then you move on to the next level and keep going until you’ve hit them all.”

Having chosen one, make a list of all the things you can do to affect the conversion rates on that level, and examine what you might be doing that is preventing that number from being higher. From here, make a list of changes, new processes, and other ideas you think will improve performance. You may have a long list. Deciding what to do with those items on the list will require prioritization.

“Assign a cost to each one, and an expected outcome,” wrote Heller. “Then prioritize them based on the expected return on each activity. For example, if one idea will cost you nothing to put in place and you expect it to improve conversion rate by one percent, that would likely go at the top of your list.”

For many companies, it will be about switching up personnel or hiring another sales person. Perhaps the sales manager will need to commit to improving training and being more hands-on with guidance. But for many companies, it’s likely to be about technology. Solutions that can automate time-consuming administrative tasks such as outbound dialing with predictive dialers, more consolidated knowledge bases, an up-to-date lead management tool or better integration with the customer relationship management (CRM) system can all help sales people spend more time selling and less time documenting and searching for answers.

When you make your list of ways to improve conversion rates through the sales funnel, consider at each step how better technology can lead to more collaboration, a 360-degree view of the prospect and the customer, an improved way to follow up, and elimination of pointless, redundant tasks such as repeated data entry or searching for the most basic information about the prospect.