Why You Need an Inbound Marketing Sales Funnel

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In this post, we’ll help you learn the steps needed to develop an effective Inbound Marketing Sales Funnel. In addition, we’ll show you how to set up the funnel stages, and how to turn potential customers into lifelong customers.

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What is an Inbound Sales Funnel

The Inbound Sales Funnel is a visual representation used to show the “Inbound Sales Process”. The top of the funnel is the first point of prospect exposure. Then nurtured through the middle of the funnel, with a premium content offer. Then conversion into customers, at the bottom of the funnel.

Quick primer on Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a modern approach to the traditional (outbound) marketing model. It’s a fundamental shift where the goal of the marketer is to be helpful while providing well-timed and relevant information that solves for the user’s search intent.

Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

Outbound is disruptive

For starters, outbound marketing is disruptive, ill-timed and uninformed. They don’t hire an agency like Coforge (it’s OK I’m not offended) but instead, they buy their lead lists.

Then you get the unwanted phone call, email or postcard every day! They’re saying “look over here, I’m super shiny, I don’t know if you even need me, just buy me”. It’s crazy that businesses continue to waste money and approach sales in this this way.

To make matters worse, they do marketing outreach with no intelligence. How do they know whether you need their product or service? Why do they think you’re ready to buy?

You get that infamous call for replacement windows. You say to the rep, “Wow, my son just broke a window kicking the soccer ball. It’s just magic that you called me just now. How did you know? Can you come over right now?”

They can’t pronounce my name and have no clue I live in a brand new house. Bad intel, poor timing and not in alignment with any buying process. They’re simply creating noise for random people, being disruptive and NOT providing solutions to their problems.

Backwards right?

Inbound is helpful

Inbound strives to attract, convert, close and delight a niche audience by creating worthy experiences that have a profound impact on the user’s quest for help.

It’s when a user thinks they have a problem, need or challenge when they turn to Google to ask their question.

This is the opportunity for the Inbound Marketer to present authoritative content to answers the user’s search question. This differentiates inbound marketing!

Inbound Sales Funnel vs the Outbound Sales Funnel

The (traditional) outbound sales funnel?

By definition, a sales funnel is the ideal process your prospect travels through as they engage your brand until becoming a customer. A traditional sales funnel is the old “in-store model” where sales reps try to “push” prospects through the sales funnel selling their wares.

The inbound sales funnel

Similar in many respects to the traditional funnel but with a few key differentiators that make it 10x more effective than the traditional method. One is the alignment of content relevant to their position in the funnel.

The alignment of high value content will show your thought leadership. This will yield better engagement and higher lead quality. The resulting process “pulls” or “guides” the prospect through your funnel in a more meaningful way.

Why your sales strategy needs a funnel with stages

Each business should have a sales funnel setup for their sales strategy. This model should have clearly defined stages that align with the buyer’s journey.

When defining your stages pay careful attention to the areas that will influence your sales strategy plan. Items such as your sales team size, sales cycle, product or service offering, price point, KPIs, etc.

It’s how you execute each stage in the sales funnel that defines your success outcomes.

Inbound funnel stage terminology

A few inbound sales terms are ToFu (Top of the funnel), MoFu (middle of the funnel), and BoFu (bottom of the funnel). Each of these describe different, but significant stages relative to the prospect’s position inside the Inbound Marketing Sales funnel.

ToFu: Top of the Funnel (stage)

AWARENESS - Where the prospect is developing symptoms of a problem, challenge or opportunity. Here the prospect will search Google for answers, peer insight, technical resources and educational learning.

ToFu Sales Tactics
Content Types - White paper, eBook, Checklist. Tip Sheet, How-to Video, Guide, Self-paced learning, How-to content, Educational content, Infographic, Kit (combo of these items).

Content Messaging - Issue, Resolve, Risk, Upgrade, Improve, Optimize, Prevent, Troubleshoot.

A great strategy during this stage is to use a Facebook Pixel and create a remarketing campaign.

A remarketing campaign will show ads to consumers who have visited your site before but left before they could convert. You can display relevant ads that correspond to the prospects position in your funnel, creating a great new way to increase conversions.

Use the Facebook Pixel and create a remarketing campaign
MoFu: Middle of the Funnel (stage)

CONSIDERATION - Where the prospect has now clearly defined a given name for their problem, challenge or opportunity. Here the prospect will be evaluating and researching good fit solutions.

MoFu Sales Tactics
Content Types - Data Sheet, FAQ, Case Study, Demo Video, Webinar, Free Sample, Comparison, White Paper, Expert Guides, Webcast/podcast/video, eBook, Worksheet, Template.

Content Messaging - Solution, Provider, Service, Tool, Remedy.

BoFu: Bottom of the Funnel–Delight

DECISION - Where the prospect has now decided on their solution strategy, method, or approach. Here the prospect will finalize what it would take to become a customer.

BoFu Sales Tactics
Content Types - Free Trial, Live Demo, Consultation, Estimate, Coupon, Case study

Vendor comparison, Product comparison, Comparison chart.

Content Messaging - Compare, Comparison, Versus, vs, Pros & Cons, Benchmarks, Review.

How do I create an Inbound Sales Funnel?

Now, you may ask yourself - how do I create an Inbound Marketing Sales Funnel?

My first step would be to set a goal. Though typically used when defining marketing objectives, I like to borrow the framework of a SMART Goal (Specific - Measurable - Attainable - Relevant - Timely) to get things rolling.

SMART Goal (Specific - Measurable - Attainable - Relevant - Timely)

Sales Funnel - Goal Example

“Each month, close 1, $5,000/m retainer by working with marketing to produce 15 qualified leads per week. Improve 1st touch, lead nurturing efforts to help pull prospects through our sales funnel until I can deliver 2 final presentations.”

To produce 1 $5,000/m retainer, we'll need:

  • 2 final presentations (a good BoFu metric)
  • 4 goal setting & planning calls
  • 10 to 12 exploratory calls
  • 60 leads

See when I would work it backwards, through each stage of the sales process I’m defining my conversion rate per stage. By factoring my conversion rates I can estimate how many leads I must generate to meet my sales goal. In my example above I must have the marketing team produce 60 leads for me to close 1 retainer deal per month. Is it starting to make sense?

Download our eBook today to learn more about Inbound Marketing Sales Funnels.

How does Inbound Marketing increase leads to my sales funnel?

I’m glad you asked. By attracting prospects through an inbound way with top of funnel tactics. Example ToFo activities include: SEO, relevant topic blogging, social media, Facebook ads, Google ads, Bing ads, YouTube video ads, 10x pillar page (AKA core topic) landing pages, etc.

Why use a sales funnel?

A well defined Sales Funnel will help sales reps visualize the stage their prospect is traveling though. Along with the help of your CRM, you can track and measure the effectiveness of each stage - making adjustments where needed.

When you align each stage to a high value piece of content, you’ll increase user engagement.

Your inbound marketing strategies directly influence this engagement.

So, it’s vital that your sales and marketing teams are also in alignment. Remember, both teams need to rally around the same goal.

When these two teams become aligned, then the right prospect, will see with the right message, at the right time.

The results... massive website traffic, better lead quality and increased conversion rates. Now you can close like a beast!

eBook Download: The Definitive Guide to Selling Better & Faster

Download our eBook today to learn more about working your website visitors through the inbound marketing sales funnel. If you need more information about your current marketing sales funnel check out our eBook or contact us today!

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Eric Melillo