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?
To have a successful B2B sales process, you need to have a well-designed sales strategy. This means following a distinct process and using a range of sales techniques that are tailored to different buyer personas 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 involves a list of consumers that filters 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 in making a purchase or not. At this stage, discussion of the sale begins where 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
This is the best time to communicate the value of the brand’s solutions in terms of the prospects’ needs. Achieving effective communication occurs by connecting the needs of the customers with the corresponding features and benefits of the product. Therefore, it is critical to understand what you 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 are, 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, prospects will express concerns, 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.
Addressing all objections will allow the prospect to decide if to sign the deal. Completing a sale refers to the closing stage. Here, the client agrees on the terms and price. However, not all deals will be successful, so keep track of these so you can send a follow-up.
The B2B marketing funnel
Brands use the marketing funnel concept 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 encounters the product or service) to purchase.
Creation of the traditional marketing funnel was for an archaic 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?
Companies have used marketing funnels 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 notice the products and services through various interactions (as in social media or other marketing materials). From here, their interests grow until they convert and become customers.
Building a well-defined sales funnel helps brands understand the prospect’s interest in the products and services. Therefore, tracking prospects through the funnel can determine how to approach each lead. It is the best way to know what products, services or content you should to pitch to prospects 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. Therefore, 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 naturally 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 receive updates regularly. 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 leads and customers are asking questions that are related to the products and services, consider answering the question in a blog post. Other customers may have similar questions and adding the answer to the website may attract 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 valuable leads. Consider running a re-targeting campaign so that advertisements target these specific 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 nurture them 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. Include offers like free eBooks or white papers 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. 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 divides into five stages:
- 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. Optimise ads 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”, this directs them to a Google Account screen. Here, customers find a prompt, asking if they will allow CrazyEgg to view their email address, as well as Google Analytics. Once customers accept this, it will take them 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 find messages of assurance and trust. This helps customers feel they made the right decision.
CrazyEgg’s marketing funnel works because they kept stages of the funnel that are relevant. The brand also offers a long trial period, showing customers 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 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 generating up to 260,000 unique views.
- Homepage–Once customers see their ads and their fun content, a link will take them 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, a tab opens to another page where they can find information that will help them decide.
- Pricing Page–Once the user continues, they show 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 immediately find a sign-up form.
- Trial–After the user has submitted their contact information, it will email them where they can start a trial use of the tool.
Basecamp employs a very short and very effective sales funnel. Converting leads into customers in just two clicks. It limits the number of chances customers can get away by offering a free trial right away.