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B2B sales refer to an activity where a business sells to another business. It is a distinct process from B2C (business-to-consumer sale) in which a business sells to individuals rather than businesses. In this article, brands can learn about the B2B marketing funnel and how to streamline it to drive ROI.
What is the B2B sales process?
A B2B sales process requires a well-designed sales strategy in order to succeed. Following a distinct process and using a wide range of sales techniques that meet different buyer persona and selling situations.
The exact number and names of stages in a sales process depend on the company and industry, however, the B2B sales process is usually a five- to eight-stage sales cycle.
An example of a 7-stage B2B sales cycle:
At this stage, it is important to round up the target consumer base that will fit the brand’s buyer persona. Prospecting generally involves a list of consumers that must be filtered out and moved along the stages of the marketing funnel.
Qualifying leads is important because it helps bring the right people down the pipeline.
Pitching the solution
The initial meeting will help brands understand if the customers are interested to make a purchase or not. At this stage, the requirements of the sale will be discussed. The customer will determine if your brand meets their needs. A helpful tool to use at this point will be a CRM because it integrates the company’s calendar and emails.
Product demo or sales pitch
It is the best time to communicate the value of the brand’s solutions in terms of the prospects’ needs. Effective communication can only be achieved by connecting the needs of the customers with the corresponding features and benefits of the product. This is why it is critical to have a clear understanding of what was discussed in the previous stage so that you can have an excellent product demo.
Once it is clear to see what the client’s needs, brands can send the proposal. This stage separates the general client list from those that are ready to buy. Also, brands should set timelines and reminders in this stage to follow-up the client within a reasonable interval.
It is rare to get approval at the submission of the initial proposal. Often the prospects will express questions or concerns – these are also known as objections. It is crucial to focus on the features that provide the best value to the customer and highlight how the brand can help them reach their goals.
Once all objections are addressed, the prospect will decide to whether sign the deal or not. Closing is the stage when the sale is finalised and the client agrees on the terms and price. However, some deals may also be lost so make sure to keep track of these so that a follow up can be sent in the future.
The B2B marketing funnel
Brands use the marketing funnel concept as a way to track leads as they move through the sales process. It is also used to align marketing and sales targets, activities, and processes. The B2B marketing funnel defines the customer journey from awareness—when a buyer first becomes aware of the product or service—to purchase.
The traditional marketing funnel was created for a completely different world. The entire process of old funnels is a lot different from what consumers feel and experience in the modern world. In order to adapt, marketing funnels are now focused on creating a unique experience for customers from start to finish.
The top of the marketing funnel represents the goal of every business — to generate as many leads as possible — while the narrow bottom reflects the number of leads that are converted to customers by the end of the sales process.
Stages of a sales funnel can vary depending on the brand or industry, but a traditional model follows these phases:
Take note, the lead’s behavior is rarely this simple or linear.
Why is a B2B marketing funnel still important?
Marketing funnels have been used by companies to manage the sales process for more than a century. At the beginning of the funnel, the leads may not even consider making a purchase. However, they might be “qualified” depending on the action that they have taken (for example, registering in a webinar).
Leads progress down the funnel as they become aware of the products and services through various interactions (as in social media or other marketing materials). From here their interests grow and until they convert and become customers.
Building a well-defined sales funnel helps brands understand the prospect’s interest in the products and services. This is why tracking prospects through the funnel can determine how each lead should be approached. It is the best way to know what products, services or content should be pitched to them at any point in time.
Getting this timing right prevents losing leads by spamming them with too much information or giving them the hard sell too early. This is why moving prospects through the funnel is often called “nurturing.”
A lead’s location within the funnel can help frame the type and frequency of campaigns needed to maintain their interest.
Ways to improve the B2B marketing funnel
Use multiple channels to attract leads.
Use a mix of multiple marketing channels including pay-per-click (PPC) off-site SEO, social media marketing, advertising, direct mail campaigns and cold calling. The effectiveness of channels may natural go up and down over time, so it is best to put marketing efforts in various areas.
Consistently analyse the effectiveness of marketing efforts.
Keeping track of the marketing campaign is important because it helps brands learn what are the most effective marketing channels. This data is crucial in helping create educated decisions all the time.
Regularly update the content.
Blogs should be regularly updated. It is helpful for SEO and will also engage customers more.
Gain customer insights.
Insights are important to help brands make better decisions to satisfy the customer’s needs. If the leads and customers are asking questions that are related to the products and services, consider answering the question in a blog post. There is a high chance that other customers may have similar questions and adding the answer to the website may attract new visitors.
Retarget customers who did not convert the first time.
Not all website visitors will give their information, but it does not mean giving up on these precious leads. Consider running a retargeting campaign so that advertisements are specifically targeted to these types of visitors. This is another chance to draw them back in.
Nurture the prospects.
Once leads provide their contact information, they are likely interested in the products that the brands offer. Although this may not mean they are ready to buy immediately, it will help if they are nurtured with the right content. Consider sending targeted email broadcasts or prepare a drip campaign.
Strategically use Call To Actions.
It’s possible that website visitors will be at different stages of the customer journey. Some might be ready to call or email, while others might be researching. Make sure to include offers like free eBooks or whitepapers to capture names and email addresses for those who aren’t quite ready to talk to your sales team.
Add referral program.
Referral programs are a great way to bring customers to a website. Make sure to promote the program to existing leads.
Case studies of successful SaaS sales funnels using B2B marketing funnel
Neil Patel started CrazyEgg after he left KISSMetrics in 2005. The company offers solutions to online businesses by providing heat mapping tools to better understand customer interaction.
CrazyEgg’s sales funnel is divided into five stages which include:
- Awareness – CrazyEgg implements a combination of tactics to improve customer awareness. The brand uses paid and organic search ads, paid and organic social media ads and more. They make sure that the site offers simple but excellent content. The ads are also optimised in a way that they can easily capture the lead’s attention.
- Homepage – Once users see the ads and decide to visit CrazyEgg’s website, they will initially see a box where they can enter their website URL to generate a heat map report.
- Pricing – Once leads have entered their URL and click “Show Me My Heatmap”, they will be directed to a Google Accounts screen. Here customers will be prompted if they will allow CrazyEgg to view their email address, as well as, Google Analytics. Once customers accept this, they will be taken to the Pricing Page.
- Nurturing – When customers leave the website at the pricing page stage, CrazyEgg will deploy several nurturing autoresponders.
- Purchase – Once customers return after receiving the initial autoresponders or just buy the first time, they will be greeted with messages of assurance and trust. This helps customers feel that they made the right decision.
CrazyEgg’s marketing funnel works because they kept stages of the funnel that is relevant. The brand also offers a long trial period, showing customers that they are confident about the tools that they offer.
Grasshopper offers a virtual phone system, allowing businesses to set up their toll-free numbers. Their effective sales funnel has generated more than $30 million in just one year.
Grasshopper uses a similar funnel to CrazyEgg, but they simplified it to reduce the steps customers need to take. This reduction limits the possible holes in the funnel which led to the success of Grasshopper.
- Awareness – Grasshopper utilises several forms of content like blog posts and Youtube videos, as well as, paid traffic to bring customers to the website. The brand features funny and quirky videos, some geanerating up to 260,000 unique views.
- Homepage – Once customers see their ads and their fun content, they are then led to a homepage where they can find a short video showing them unique selling points.
- How It Works – Once customers click on the “See How It Works” button, they are taken to another page where they can find information that will help them make a decision.
- Pricing Page – Once the user decides to continue, they are presented with 4 pricing options with a highlighted option showing the best value.
Grasshopper’s marketing funnel is short, sweet, and effective. It clearly explains everything the customer wants to know about the product. With an entire page dedicated to just explaining how their product works, they can qualify interested customers quickly.
Basecamp is a project management software aimed at companies that want to streamline their work in a single tool. It is one of the best solutions for companies that have remote employees who share project management tasks.
This brand uses a very simple sales funnel so that prospects do not need to take too many steps to sign up.
- Awareness – Basecamp does not use paid search or social ads. Instead, they use their blogs to share valuable content and updates on social media. The brand uses a very active PR team and a powerful inbound marketing campaign to generate awareness.
- Homepage – Once customers arrive at the homepage, they are greeted immediately with a signup form.
- Trial – After the user has submitted their contact information, they will be sent an email where they can start a trial use of the tool.
Basecamp employs a very short and very effective sales funnel. Leads can easily be converted into customers in just two clicks. It limits the number of chances customers can get away by offering a free trial right away.