The sales funnel is an integral part of every business's marketing process. With it, businesses can increase their sales. Also, it allows them to understand better their sales process, which they can then use to optimize and refine it for better efficiency.
In this guide, you will learn about what a sales funnel is and some of its benefits for your business. Furthermore, you will learn the differences between B2B and B2C sales funnels and how to build a B2B sales funnel.
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A B2B sales funnel refers to the process a business uses to convert prospects – or leads – into paying customers. There are many differences between B2B and B2C sales funnels. The chief difference is the fact that the prospects of B2B companies are other businesses and that of B2C companies are consumers. And this affects how each sector approaches the building and administration of its funnel.
The primary goal of a B2B sales funnel is to increase return on investment (ROI). This involves working according to a plan to influence prospects' decision-making so that they become your customer. Regardless, you must avoid pushing your prospects into deciding. This is because doing so could drive them away instead of turning them into paying customers.
Below are some of the ways the B2B sales funnel can help grow your business.
Sales funnels use marketing strategies that tell you what to do step-by-step, based on your audiences' interests. To make these strategies work, you must build a buyer persona that is not only accurate but precise. This persona will then work with the funnel to improve sales.
A sales funnel will inform you of the accurate number of leads that enter your sales pipeline and the ones that eventually convert. This will, thereby, enable you to determine the least volume of leads that must enter your funnel to ensure you achieve your targets.
It is imperative that every piece of content you create appeals to your potential customers. For this reason, you should learn about their interests, dislikes, fears, and other factors to create compelling content.
What's more? Luckily, a B2B sales funnel informs you of the same stage each prospect has reached. With this information, you can connect with a content marketer who will aid you in choosing the most appropriate and relevant topic to win that prospect over. He will also help you determine the most efficient language to connect with that prospect, thus, leading them closer to purchasing from you.
While several people go into a funnel, only those who come out of it will buy from you. Consequently, you should avoid wasting time, effort, and other resources on those who aren't your prospects.
Fortunately, you can accurately determine the percentage of people who come out of your sales funnel with one or two experiments. With this information, you can better optimize your B2B sales process and cut every associated risk. You will also reduce the time, effort, or other resources and make better forecasts.
As a B2B business owner, you should avoid forcing purchases down your B2B buyers' throats. Instead, you should lead them through your B2B sales process, ranging from their first visit to purchase, to convince them why your product is valuable to them.
To begin, identify the problem the customer faces. Then, devise a solution to this problem that will cause them to act. You can achieve the goal of each phase using the content marketing tools that best fit your audience. If you do this well, more people – than before – who enter your sales funnel will make it through to the other end and become your customers.
Again: B2B (business to business) sales refer to product sales between businesses, while B2C (business to consumer) sales refer to product sales between businesses and consumers.
Due to the nature of these businesses, they have specific differences. Below, we examine some of them.
B2B business owners develop a different kind of relationship with their prospects from B2C business owners. In simpler terms, B2B business owners develop personal relationships with their customers, whereas B2C owners focus on establishing transactional relationships.
B2B: Focuses on building personal relationships
B2B marketing focuses on building long-term relationships with customers. The aim of this is to ensure customer retention. Building personal relationships is a vital part of B2B marketing as it enables customers to learn about the business practices you espouse. It also allows them to know more about your ethics, values, and morals.
If you can successfully build a personal connection with your customers, you will have distinguished yourself from your competitors. Naturally, this will bode well for your brand.
B2C: Focuses on establishing transactional relationships
Contrary to B2B sales, B2C marketing sells products to customers. One way it achieves this is by integrating an incredible customer experience into its business's website. Further, B2C marketing values efficiency, which necessitates effective time management. For this reason, B2C businesses have little time to spare for their customers, making it difficult to establish a personal relationship with them.
Simply put, this business model's tactics focus on selling high-quality products at a rapid rate.
Like their customer relationships, the branding goal prioritized by B2B and B2C marketing teams differs. For instance, branding in B2B marketing focuses more on building relationships with customers, while that of B2C focuses on sending messages.
B2B: Focuses on developing relationships
With branding, it is vital that you are consistent with how you present and deliver your products or services to your target audience. As a B2B business owner, you should portray a personality or position in the market that appeals to your target audience. With this, you will be able to connect with your audience on a personal level. And this will make you their go-to business for products they need.
B2C: Focuses on sending messages
Branding is vital to marketing for various reasons. These include confirming your business by delivering a specific message and encouraging buyers to make purchases. It also improves customer loyalty and facilitates emotional connection with the customer, among others.
Unfortunately, there is limited interaction between B2C salespeople and their customers. As a result, the focus of B2C branding is to send clear messages. This message is often transmitted through the provision of quality customer experience and lasting memories. Also, creating motivational copies that resonate with audiences can be beneficial.
B2B and B2C sales teams use different marketing strategies for targeting their respective audiences. The reason for this is that these two business types focus on different decision-making personnel. Where B2B businesses usually advertise to groups with many decision-makers, B2C businesses advertise to end-users.
B2B: Find your niche
B2B businesses usually operate in niche markets. For this reason, you must understand the demographic of your target audience. To do this, start with the collection of accurate data and follow it up with analysis. By the way, there is no restriction as to the type of data: it can be qualitative, quantitative, or both.
Some of the most effective data gathering methods you can use are: keyword research and Google Analytics. Another highly effective method for determining your audience is to check the search engine results pages (SERP) for your keywords on Google. This will enable you to decide what topics interest your target audience.
With the results from your SERP analysis and the data from your keyword research and Google Analytics, you can accurately determine your target audience. And with their determination, you can build a proper leads generation strategy.
B2C: Follow the funnel
As opposed to B2B businesses, B2C businesses operate in a broader market, with widely spread targets. For this reason, search marketers usually consider following the funnel stage when acquiring prospects.
This marketing type usually begins at the top of the funnel. Here, it uses advertisements that encourage purchases that are emotional and product-driven. This enables it to attract a wide range of audiences and gain qualified leads. When you analyze these leads' psychographics, you can create an efficient lead list from which you can make sales.
Before you can build an ideal B2B sales funnel, you should understand the different stages your leads encounter before they make purchase decisions. Each stage requires you to react differently, and by understanding this, you can send the ideal response to your leads at the right time.
The following are the stages involved in building an ideal B2B sales funnel:
This stage describes the beginning of your buyer's journey. It is the point where your prospects begin to identify the problems they want to solve. Due to the vital nature of this stage, you must be there to capture their attention. One way you can achieve this is to upload quality content on the social media platforms members of your audience use frequently. You can also use SEO and paid ads.
Once you've successfully captured their attention, inform them of your business and what you offer. Bear in mind that the awareness stage is akin to the courtship stage. As such, put as much effort as required to ensure your potential customers engage with your business.
Note: It is possible to convert potential customers from the awareness stage. However, you must have made a perfect impression on them.
Once customers become aware of your B2B company, they will highly likely research it. They will probably research other B2B companies that offer similar services, too. Finally, they will compare the different offers of the companies before deciding.
Luckily for you, this is an ideal time to develop educational content that aids your customers' journey. However, avoid selling your services/products to them. If you try to do this, you might come across as insincere and push them away instead.
The goal in the interest stage is to establish your business skills and expertise. Also, it is to help your customers out to the best of your ability. You can expect them to handle the rest – such as deciding to buy from you – by themselves.
At this stage, the customer is ready to buy. However, they are yet to determine the B2B company to buy from. That is to say; things can go either way. Regardless, this is the stage where you should put out your best foot and make an offer; they won't be able to resist.
Examples of offers you can make are:
The primary aim of this stage is to convince your leads to buy from you.
This final stage is at the bottom of the funnel. It describes the point where your prospects act and buy your product.
However, getting to this stage does not mean you have completed the B2B sales funnel. To do this, you must ensure that your leads become recurring customers who come back for more purchases.
In other words, you must concentrate on customer retention. Fortunately, doing the following will make your customer retention efforts successful:
If you are a B2B seller looking to expand your horizon and sell more, you should use a B2B marketplace. Alibaba.com is one such marketplace. Established in 1999, it is one of the largest and most popular marketplaces in the world. In 2019, it had about 830 million active users worldwide1. Thus, it presents a massive opportunity for your business to get more customers and enjoy a ready-made audience.