In today’s dynamic world of modern business, staying ahead of the competition will require a solid strategic approach. You can quickly achieve this with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.
So, how can CRM software help your business with the sales process? Well, it lets you control the buyer’s journey from the first interaction with your company to the moment they buy.
Outside factors can convince some customers, but you should always aim to be the main factor that will convert leads. Why? Because you can’t rely on outside factors to be always the same. On the contrary, you can make a well-defined sales funnel that you could improve and scale to your needs.
Whether B2B or B2C sales, the sales and marketing teams should understand and visualize the customer journey in the sales process. This can be done in four stages called a sales funnel.
In this comprehensive blog post, I will go deep into the complexity of a CRM system for creating sales funnels and explain how it can improve your sales process.
What is a CRM Sales funnel?
A CRM sales funnel systematically portrays the customer journey from the first contact with your business to the final stage, where they convert into a paying customer. It is a conceptual model that shows the potential customer step-by-step moves through illustrations, narrowing and summering down the sales process to those who make a purchase.
Like a traditional sales funnel, the CRM funnel has a broad audience of potential customers at the top. Moreover, as the leads progress through the sales processes, the sales funnel narrows down through stages resulting in successfully converted leads at the bottom.
What is the importance of a Sales Funnel?
Most customers are not aware that customer experience exists unless something goes wrong. And often, they get vocal when they have a terrible experience, and nowadays, there are a lot of platforms to share their displeasure on. So you should always give the best customer service you can!
The main objective of a sales funnel is to guide and manage leads through each stage while building strong customer relationships and delivering customized experiences to each lead. This allows businesses to track customer interactions at different touchpoints and manage them better to ensure an efficient sales cycle.
As I mentioned, the sales funnel illustrates the sales process into four stages that are the following:
- Awareness stage– At the top of the sales funnel, potential customers become aware of your business’s products or services. This is the first stage, where lead generation happens through various marketing efforts.
- Interest stage – At this stage, the customers show interest in learning more about what your business offers. This is where they may engage with your business as website visitors or newsletter subscribers. Moreover, they may seek more information where they’ll need to interact with your sales reps.
- Desire stage – Here, the prospects are close to deciding on whether they’ll purchase or pass. You will face negotiation terms and final assurances before they’re ready to commit to the purchase.
- Action stage – This is the bottom of the sales funnel, where the leads are ready to purchase or sign contracts and convert into paying customers.
This was just a first peak into what I’ll further discuss throughout this article, so hang on! First things first, let’s see the role that CRM software has in the sales funnel.
How CRM Works in the Sales Funnel
CRM software is vital in all stages of a business’s sales funnel. It has great sales funnel management capabilities, and therefore it plays a big role in sales funnel management in your business. To explain the sales funnel process, I’ll try to explain the path and what happens.
Sales Process in a Sales Funnel software
It starts with awareness, where whenever a customer interacts with your website and fills out a form, the CRM system collects the contact information and stores the new lead in the database.
After the customers move on to the interest stage, they tend to engage more actively with your brand. Therefore, based on the lead’s action, the CRM can automatically trigger personalized email series showing the client precisely what aligns with their interest. Moreover, this is a great engagement to ensure that you nurture leads by building a personal relationship with them.
CRM helps manage the sales pipeline because it allows the sales reps to track and monitor the progress of deals in real-time.
And by analyzing critical metrics like the probability of closure and time in the pipeline, the sales teams can promptly identify and address potential pain points.
Furthermore, once a deal is successfully closed, the CRM updates the lead’s status to “customer,” which triggers onboarding processes to engage with them. That way, you can ensure that your new lead has a good customer experience from different departments, like the sales team and the customer support team.
All of this is possible thanks to the sales funnel software features in CRM, so let me elaborate a bit more on that, where you will learn the exact benefits of the features.
What are the Sales Funnel features in CRM?
The sales funnel features in CRM are made to help businesses better manage and optimize the sales process. This is possible because of the ability to nurture leads through each sales funnel stage.
With smooth lead management, personalized interactions with new leads, and valuable insights, your sales reps can do their job significantly better. So, let’s look at some of the key sales funnel software features.
CRM software offers tools to capture leads from numerous sources like web forms, social media, marketing campaigns, etc. The captured leads are organized and stored automatically within the CRM database, ensuring your business never misses an opportunity with new leads.
The sales reps can easily access information and pursue to do whatever needs to be done to convert more leads.
Nurture leads and achieve marketing automation
This feature offers lead nurturing through automated email marketing by delivering personalized content and scheduled follow-ups.
With marketing automation, you ensure that your leads receive relevant and timely information, and with this, your sales teams are increasing engagement and moving a step closer to converting leads.
This is another helpful feature that allows your business to prioritize the leads based on their engagement level and potential to convert.
CRM assigns scores to their interaction with your brand, helping your sales reps focus on high-value leads to achieve high sales revenue.
Sales pipeline management
With CRM, you have a clear visual sales pipeline portrayal of the sales process. This sales funnel CRM feature shows the stages in which your leads are at the moment and how they are progressing.
With this feature, your sales reps can track deals, identify pain points and have a more accurate sales forecast.
Sales forecasting and reporting
Suppose you want to have accurate sales forecasting. In that case, this sales funnel CRM feature enables you to have so by analyzing and reporting on historical data and current deals in the sales pipeline.
By doing sales forecasting, you can make more informed decisions and allocate your resources where they will pay off. Also, it can help you set more realistic goals.
Automated task and activity reminders
This is a significant feature for sales funnel software because it automatically reminds sales reps of follow-ups, scheduled tasks, and appointments. This will ensure your business never miss a crucial interaction, leading to a more effective sales funnel.
Email and communication tracking
CRM’s tracking feature is another vital thing in its sales funnel builder. This feature provides a centralized view of all data by tracking email communications with leads and customers.
The feature enables the sales reps to better understand every lead’s engagement and customize it properly. Moreover, if done right, it will improve the sales teams performance.
CRM has another great feature in a sales funnel tool that will help you be always informed about critical events like lead conversions, deal closures, or customer inquiries. This will allow your sales team to respond promptly and deliver a smooth customer experience.
Integration with marketing automation
Many CRM platforms offer integration with a marketing tool. So basically, with sales funnel software, you will achieve marketing automation that will help your sales reps seamlessly run things.
The leads will constantly receive relevant messaging throughout their customer journey.
This feature will allow your business to segment the generating leads and the existing customers based on criteria like interests, behavior, or demographics. So, the CRM funnel software feature will help you manage leads and take the whole process to another level.
What are the four stages of a CRM funnel?
The four stages of the CRM funnel are Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. In each stage, some actions make the sales cycle run seamlessly and end with more paying customers.
With sales funnel software, your sales team will have better sales funnel management and a better chance to convert leads.
A perfect sales funnel will increase your profits while offering a great buyer’s journey through the sales stages.
So let me go through every sales stage, explain what’s happening in each, and help you understand why the sales funnel is important.
Awareness stage (Prospecting)
The sales funnel’s first stage is about creating awareness and potential lead generation for your business. In this stage, with funnel software, you mostly rely on sales strategies to attract the attention of your target audience.
You can engage with your target audience through social media platforms, email marketing, and advertisements. Also, you can gather valuable insights through customer questions, feedback, and complaints; that way, you’ll get an idea of what’s essential to your audience.
Feeding this information to CRM software will allow your sales manager to identify qualified sales leads, upsell opportunities or ask for referrals. It will also help you start building strong customer relationships.
Interest stage (Qualifying leads)
In this stage of the sales funnel, your sales team can see some results from the lead generation, i.e., you’re one step closer to your potential customers. The prospects will probably try to engage with your business through web forms, newsletters, or social media.
Here sales funnels show which prospects are qualified leads, thanks to the CRM capability to do lead scoring and rank the leads based on the probability of them becoming customers.
With CRM lead scoring, your sales rep will know precisely where to put the marketing effort. Targeting the right leads will save you a lot of time and resources.
How? Well, if you focus on leads that might not have the budget or they might not need your product or services at the moment, all of your efforts and resources to close them will be a waste.
Desire stage (Quoting prospects)
This stage involves addressing the specific needs and concerns of the qualified leads closest to purchasing. By this sales funnel stage, CRM contains an extensive database of customers and leads who have come this far, providing valuable insight to a sales rep to handle the action stage better.
For example, if the leads express concerns through mail or social media, you can use the information to address those concerns during phone calls or meetings.
This is important because discussing issues is always better when you have a flowing conversation, showing that you care and want to satisfy their needs.
In addition, with the sales funnel features of CRM software, you can track the activities of your company’s other sales reps, allowing better collaboration and consistency.
Action stage (Closing the deal)
The conversion happens in the Action stage, where leads become paying customers. It’s positioned at the bottom of the sales funnel, meaning an end of a sales cycle. In this stage, the sales forecasting CRM reports play an important role by tracking the deal’s progress in the sales pipeline.
By monitoring the pipeline, your sales rep can identify deals that are not likely to close and analyze them. Moreover, said insights can help you develop solutions to address further pain points and improve the overall effectiveness of your own sales funnel and the whole CRM process.
Giving potential customers excellent service will not only convert them, but it will make them come back. Additionally, you will most likely achieve customer retention by keeping them engaged with marketing campaigns that hold relevant and personalized content.
The sales funnel tool can help you better manage customer data and provide valuable insights that will help you convert more leads and improve customer retention.
Having an effective sales funnel will undoubtedly lead you to business growth.
Sales Pipeline VS Sales Funnel: What’s the difference?
The terms “sales pipeline” and “sales funnel” are frequently used in sales and marketing but are confusing among business people.
While these principles are critical for making sales strategies, they have different goals and are meant for different outcomes.
The sales pipeline shows you the step-by-step process that your potential customers take from the initial contact to the final touchpoint. It provides a systematic structure for your sales teams to manage better and convert leads.
On the other hand, the sales funnel focuses on the larger picture embracing the complete customer base and visualizing the entire purchasing process from awareness to action through retention.
Sales Pipeline characteristics
A sales pipeline is a practical and visually appealing representation of the different steps that your sales prospects go through before becoming paying customers.
Sales teams use it as a CRM strategic tool to track and manage the entire sales process. This way, your sales reps can assess the progress of individual leads and overall sales success.
So, let’s go through the key characteristics of a pipeline:
- Linear progression – It shows the lead’s progress in a linear progression where the information moves from one stage to the next until they become a customer.
- Real-time tracking – Sales reps use the pipeline to monitor the status of each lead in real-time; by doing this, your teams will be capable of identifying which deals need more attention, which tasks need prioritization, etc.
- Focus on individual deals – The pipeline focuses on each lead individually and tracks its progression independently.
- Metrics-driven – To measure the performance and progress at each stage, the pipeline uses your predefined data points: key metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs).
Sales Funnel characteristics
The sales funnel, or sales process, illustrates the path potential customers take from the first contact with your business to the point where they become loyal customers of your brand. Unlike the pipeline, the sales funnel is focused on all your potential customers, not just the individual ones.
Sales Funnel has some key characteristics that are the following:
- Clear representation – The sales funnel represents the overall flow of your leads through the sales process, following your potential customers at all stages.
- Conversion – Sales funnel software can analyze conversion rates and identify areas where you can improve the sales cycle.
- Strategic planning – Take advantage of the sales funnel for your business to develop effective strategies for lead generation, lead nurturing, and retention.
- Customer lifecycle – The sales funnel includes post-sales activities to focus on retention and customer loyalty to your business.
Best sales funnel software
Every business wants to avoid lost leads, and the best way to do so is to use CRM software with great sales funnel features. So to help you out with this choice, I will review the three popular CRM solutions with robust sales funnel features.
Zoho CRM lets you capture leads from various sources like web forms, social media, email marketing, etc. The CRM organizes and tracks the leads, enabling easy nurturing and follow-up campaigns.
With Zoho, you have a visual representation of your pipeline, making it easier for the sales reps to track deals and forecast revenue using this feature. It also offers lead scoring based on your predefined criteria, which will help you identify high-potential leads by ranking them.
Another feature that shouldn’t be taken for granted is automation. With Zoho CRM, you can create automated workflows that will take care of lead nurturing and follow-ups for you. It will save your team a lot of time, and it will never miss a thing.
Doing all the activities, Zoho will provide you with sales analytics and reports that will help you improve the performance of your sales funnel. With a comprehensive and customizable sales dashboard, you will make better decisions that will drive growth to your business. You can have a go at their free trial and test it on your business to get a better idea of its capabilities.
HubSpot is another feature-rich platform that offers a wide range of email marketing, sales, and customer service tools and a unified business solution. With contact and deal management, you can handle your pipeline a lot better.
What makes CRM good is email tracking and automation, which monitors when leads open emails and interact with what you send them. HubSpot also provides detailed sales analytics, including deal revenue, win-loss rates, and sales team performance.
It allows you to use templates and sequences for your email marketing automation, ensuring better engagement and consistency. You can integrate HubSpot with other Hubspot products like Marketing Hub and Service Hub, which will level up your game, aligning the big three efforts sales, marketing, and customer service.
If this intrigues you to try HubSpot, you can check out their 14-Day free trial and see how it will work out for your business.
Salesforce is an excellent CRM for lead and opportunity management. Using it, you can track deals in a structured manner.
Another feature that makes this sales CRM powerful is sales forecasting which will help you predict future revenue and set appropriate goals. Salesforce also allows you to automate the menial and repetitive tasks that will improve efficiency in your sales.
With Salesforce’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) insights, you can identify patterns and trends to help you make unique strategies and better decisions based on analyzed data.
If you wish to try Salesforce, you can check out the 30-Day free trial and go over the features I mentioned; only this way, you will try them on your sales funnel.
What are the stages of a CRM funnel?
A CRM funnel has four stages: Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. These stages represent the customer journey from initial contact to the point when they become paying customers.
What is a sales funnel,l and how does it work?
The sales funnel illustrates the buyer’s journey from initial contact to final conversion. It works on a concept of guiding and managing leads through the four stages and meeting their needs, preferences, and concerns. As the leads narrow down the funnel, some drop off while the most qualified leads stay and convert into customers.
What is funnel reporting in CRM?
Funnel reporting refers to the analysis of the sales funnel’s performance. You track the leads as they progress from one stage to another and understand the efficiency of your sale cycle.
What are the four stages of the sales funnel?
The four stages of the sales funnel are Awareness (prospecting), Interest (qualifying leads), Desire (quoting prospects), and Action (closing the deal).