The sales funnel is a model in B2B marketing which helps companies to turn interested and desirable customers into actual, real customers. Find out how this funnel is built up and works.
The sales funnel: what is it?
The term “funnel” is actually not quite accurate in this context. If the principle of the sales funnel were in line with a real funnel, then the company would have the same number of contacts at the end of the process as it did at the beginning.
However, the sales funnel is a kind of multi-level strainer. After each phase, potential customers are filtered out who are not interested in (or don’t have the budget for) the offer a company is providing. At the end of the sales funnel, only those customers can be found who commission orders or purchase products.
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How does a sales funnel work?
There is no standard answer to this question – after all, behind every sales funnel is a thought-through concept which is developed for the individual target groups. All in all, however, each sales funnel can be divided into three phases: the Top of the Funnel (ToFu), the Middle of the Funnel (MoFu) and the Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu).
1st phase: Top of the Funnel (ToFu)
The ToFu encompasses the awareness phase. Here, the company wants to gain attention and potential customers should be made aware of the fact that they have a need. This is achieved using traditional advertising or target-group-centric content such as blogs, postings, newsletters, landing pages, advertorials or informative graphics.
The awareness of an offer is therefore created in the minds of the target group. Now the aim is to leverage brand awareness measures to ensure the potential customers associate the company with their needs.
The important thing about this phase of the sales funnel is that the target group is not overwhelmed by information at this point. Potential customers are still far from making a purchasing decision. The focus of this phase is not the product. It is the company, which should be seen as a competent source of information. The high art of communication at this point in time is to make the target group subtly aware of the offer and to show that it is just right for them.
2nd phase: Middle of the Funnel (MoFu)
In contrast is the MoFu. Here is where the target group has already reached the so-called consideration phase. Potential customers have recognised their need and may already have considered the first approaches to meeting it. But despite all that, the target group is not “bombarded” with offers in this phase.
At this point, the main focus is finding the perfect balance between information and persuasion. In-depth content is perfect for this, such as white papers, e-books, studies or informative graphics. At the same time, the target group is presented the product as a part of the solution, for instance in the form of links to more information about the special offer.
3rd phase: Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu)
Now we are at the final phase, BoFu, and thus the most important part of the sales funnel in B2B marketing. Here is where the conversion phase comes into play. The target group is well aware of its need and has been informed of the various solutions. In this phase, potential customers expect more in-depth information about the product. At this point, sales should have already started acquisition measures, as leads are about to be reeled in. These measures can include case studies, product fact sheets or events, or even vouchers, rebate codes and demo or test versions. If these measures are successful or not is determined by whether the target group decides to buy or not.
Conclusion: the sales funnel as a guide
The sales funnel described above is just one of many approaches to catering to the customer journey. Such a model is not perfect and cannot be leveraged in all cases in the same way. But it helps you to step into your target group’s shoes, to learn more about their interests and intentions, and thus to plan your marketing measures to match these. It is an important step in the direction of successful content marketing, as the content should always be focused on the needs of the users.