Table of Contents
- What is a B2B Sales Funnel?
- 5 B2B Sales Funnel Stages
- The Difference Between B2B and B2C Sales Funnels
- How to Guide Buyers Through the B2B Sales Funnel
- Optimize Your B2B Sales Funnel for Improved Profitability
When B2B brands make purchases online, their decision-making process is highly considered. One poorly targeted sales or marketing campaign can deter potential customers from completing a purchase. This is where a B2B sales funnel comes into play. A sales funnel outlines the key stages in the buyer’s journey, allowing sales and marketing teams to deliver the right message at the right time and improve conversion rates.
What is a B2B Sales Funnel?
A B2B sales funnel is a visual representation of how prospective buyers navigate through the buyer’s journey when making purchasing decisions on behalf of a company. It is often referred to as a sales pipeline. The sales funnel helps businesses understand the frame of mind a buyer is in at each stage, enabling them to tailor their marketing strategy and guide new customers towards making a purchase.
5 B2B Sales Funnel Stages
While the B2B sales funnel can vary across industries, there are five key stages that are commonly observed.
Awareness Stage: At this stage, business buyers become aware of a problem they want to solve. However, they are not actively looking for a solution yet.
Interest Stage: In this stage, buyers show interest in solving the problem and start exploring potential solutions or necessary product features.
Consideration Stage: Business buyers actively search for a supplier to solve their problem. They may browse B2B marketplaces, request brochures, or seek referrals from retail partners.
Evaluation Stage: Buyers with a shortlist of potential suppliers enter the evaluation stage. The goal is to convince key stakeholders that your company is the best choice.
Purchase Stage: Once the business has obtained approval from key stakeholders, they choose a supplier and make a purchase.
The Difference Between B2B and B2C Sales Funnels
While there is overlap between B2B and B2C sales funnels, there are several key differences:
More Decision-Makers: B2B purchase decisions typically involve multiple decision-makers, with an average of up to 10 people involved. Each decision-maker may progress through the sales funnel at different times.
Longer Sales Cycles: B2B sales cycles are generally longer due to the involvement of multiple decision-makers. It can take up to 12 months for a business customer to progress through the sales funnel.
Hand-Holding and Support: B2B buyers require more support and guidance throughout the sales process. They often need reassurance and information on how to resell the product to their own customers.
How to Guide Buyers Through the B2B Sales Funnel
To guide potential B2B customers through the sales funnel without draining resources or overwhelming them, follow these strategies:
1. Identify What Stage They’re At
To provide the right support, it is crucial to identify which stage of the B2B sales funnel potential customers are in. Gain insight into their activities, such as the SKUs they view, emails they open, landing pages they visit, and how often they return to your website. Use B2B lead nurturing tools to accurately forecast your sales pipeline and recognize qualified leads.
2. Divert In-Person Prospects Online
Taking your B2B business online can be a strong value proposition. Embrace ecommerce and provide DTC-style experiences that B2B buyers expect. Offer incentives like free samples, discounts, or speedy delivery to divert in-person prospects to your online store.
3. Produce On-Demand Content for Each Stage of the Funnel
Create and deliver personalized content that addresses the needs of buyers at each stage of the sales funnel. Provide educational content at the top of the funnel, build trust with content marketing campaigns in the middle of the funnel, and share product USPs and case studies at the bottom of the funnel. Automate the delivery of content based on customer actions to provide a seamless experience.
4. Offer Sales Rep Support
Employ a B2B sales team to provide support and answer questions for potential customers. Utilize live chat, email outreach, and phone calls to address their concerns and help them progress through the sales funnel.
5. Don’t Forget About Post-Purchase
The B2B sales funnel extends beyond the first purchase. Build strong relationships with customers to encourage repeat purchases. Use automation to schedule post-purchase emails with personalized product recommendations, share display ideas and trends, and highlight customers as recommended suppliers or retail partners.
Optimize Your B2B Sales Funnel for Improved Profitability
By taking your B2B business online and optimizing your sales funnel, you can improve profitability and customer satisfaction. Allow customers to self-serve and absorb content on their own terms, automate processes, and provide personalized support. The shorter the time potential buyers spend in the sales funnel, the more profit your company can generate.