There have to be a million different versions of the sales funnel. Many generic funnels start with “Prospect” and go to “Lead” and eventually end up with a sale but here is one you may not have seen. This one is modeled after the flow of visitors to your website. I didn’t invent this and in fact, I saw a version of this most recently on findandconvert.com so I know I am not the only one who uses it.
What I like about this funnel is that it is a modern view of Internet-based leads. Here is how it works. First, a visitor lands on your site. Next, they are interested enough to click on some call to action and then they decide to engage in the material you offer. If you haven’t lost them yet, you can use the content of your website to further nurture them until they have the confidence to purchase.
It’s a useful exercise to consider how your website facilitates this process. What is your “call to action” that drives the initial visitor to click through to more content? Once they have clicked through, how do you engage and further nurture them so they land on the product or service most relevant to them? And after they have been through that content have you sufficiently built their confidence in your company and your product so they will make a purchase?
If you are like most vendors who utilize (and value) Internet leads you spend a disproportionate amount of your lead generation budget on the very first stage. That first stage is the advertising or SEO required to get visitors to your site. You probably also spend a lot of money on the salaries and systems required to create a proposal or take an order when someone is ready to engage 1-on-1. The area where you spend the least is in the middle. That’s the website content that provides a self-service experience for your customer to identify what product and options is right for them, what they should value and why they should trust you. Customers expect to be able to serve themselves on your website through this part of the research and decision process but it is often the weak link in the chain.
Here is another way to look at the process. When a prospective customer goes shopping on the Internet they first want to educate themselves on the available choices and use this information to formulate their purchase criteria. Maybe in some shopping situations they already have all of their shopping criteria in mind but more likely they only have part of the criteria and they visit websites like yours to determine what should be important. Next, they want to see what is available and narrow down the choices based on their criteria. If all goes well, they find a product on your website that meets these criteria and they are confident you can deliver it so they initiate 1-on-1 contact (or they purchase directly).
The implications of this customer behavior is that you, the vendor, want your website to easily facilitate this process. To do that, you will need to invest in organizing your website in way that a customer can explore your products and options, understand why they are important and how they are priced. Think about the first 3-5 questions that your sales person uses to determine what product configuration is appropriate – does your website do a nice job of narrowing down the choices for the customer like the sales person does? To serve this stage of a customer’s research and decision process you don’t need to present all the detail In fact, you are better off keeping it simple and making it easy to navigate. Just be clear about your differentiation so the customer begins to build that into their decision criteria.
Finally, make the experience fun and engaging so the customer wants to spend more time on your site rather than your competitors. Oh, and by the way, a highly visual, 3D product configurator may really help!