There is one thing common about sales and sports, you have got to hit your numbers. If you don't you will be shifted to the bench, or worse, you are staring into an axing.
In sales though, hitting numbers can be even tougher since the market is overly competitive and the skill sets are a little more common.
The sure shot way to stay ahead of your competition is to train hard and equip yourself with the latest strategies and tools.
But before you do that, you need to have a very nuanced understanding of the entire sales process. I say that because you can work most efficiently with a machine only when you know how it functions.
Take the case of F1 drivers, they know their car intimately. And for most cases, they are aware of the minutest changes that the engineers make to their beloved machine.
The result? A high-performing, adrenaline-fueled driver who races to finish at the top without having to worry whether his car is going to cut it.
For sales reps, their car is the sales process and the metaphorical engine is the lead generation funnel. The lead generation funnel ensures that reps have a continuous pipeline of opportunities that they can pursue to hit the revenue goals of a company.
What is a lead generation funnel?
A lead generation funnel is a series of processes that lead the right lead to the sales team as efficiently as possible. It encompasses all the stages from setting up an email list to capturing qualified leads and moving them on to the next stage of lead nurturing or lead scoring.
Note that lead generation is a part of the lead generation funnel and the two are distinct.
As lead generation has evolved, lead gen funnels have too. Lead generation funnels are getting more complex as the buyer's journey goes through varied touchpoints and channels.
The traditional lead generation funnel has origins in the early 1960s, during which time salesperson would act as the main conduit between the business and its customers. There was no lead capture or lead management system. The lead would be approached by a brand ambassador who would try to sell them on purchasing now rather than later (and for more).
The lead generation funnel allowed businesses, especially B2B tech companies, to streamline lead flow so they could focus on their mission of selling products and services using a lead management system like a CRM.
In the current B2B tech landscape, lead generation funnels have various iterations depending on a company's size and specialization.
Although the lead generation funnel varies from one business to another, it can be broken down into three main stages: lead prospecting, lead qualification, and lead nurturing.
The lead prospecting process is where leads are generated through marketing campaigns or other mechanisms. The lead qualification stage is where leads are vetted by sales team members to determine whether they are qualified yet or not. Lead nurturing refers to providing relevant content about your company so potential customers hopefully turn into actual customers in the future.
The lead prospecting phase produces what is called the Top-of-funnel leads. Lead qualification churns out Middle-of-funnel leads while the nurturing process along with other processes brings out the Bottom-of-funnel leads.
For sales reps, the dream is to have wide enough bottom-of-funnel, ready-to-buy leads that will help them hit their quota goals. In this article, we explore the challenges to building a strong lead generation funnel and how artificial intelligence can help supercharge it with opportunities.
Sales leaders overlook top-of-funnel
Lead generation funnels work just as a funnel is designed to be. Leads trickle from the top and turn into opportunities at the bottom.
A top-of-funnel lead is not just defined by how far along it is in the buyer's journey, but also whether it has some level of interest that can be used as an entry point into a conversation with them. Despite these benefits, top-of-the-funnel prospects often get sidelined due to preference given to mid-and bottom-of-funnel prospects who have expressed greater interest in a company's products.
A mistake made by sales leaders is putting active top-of-funnel opportunities at risk by failing to update them regularly or sending them insufficient updates. It is this mindset that causes even top-notch sales reps to lose out on quota.
This mindset of neglecting top-of-funnel prospects can hurt the bottom line of a company since top-of-funnel leads are more likely to convert into MOFU or BOFU leads through nurturing.
It is just common sense that the BOFU leads will be far lesser in number than the TOFU leads. Not investing in pursuing those leads who aren't actively looking to buy immediately will ultimately lead to a lower number of bottom-of-funnel sales opportunities.
If top-of-funnel prospects go into an inactive status, they become difficult to get back on track since they have generated little interest before being disregarded. This is especially harmful if the top of funnel opportunities did not have sufficient updates sent to them so it would be harder for sales reps to engage with them again. Not to mention the cost of generating those leads will be added to the bottom line as well.
So, ignore the top-of-funnel at your own risk.
Bottlenecks in the middle of the funnel lower revenue
Here's why the B2B middle of the funnel is crucial for your B2B sales team. The lead qualification process filters out 90% of B2B leads that are not ready to buy now.
The challenge with the B2B middle of the funnel is how much competition it has, both external and internal. Here's where mid-funnel becomes a bottleneck because there are limited resources available for companies to approach them, creating more work to be done by sellers nurturing outside the organization.
Although it may seem like b2b companies should have success in their mid-funnel strategy due to ample opportunities lying within this stage, many still struggle with low win rates around 25 percent or lower at this stage.
Poor conversion of MOFU leads to BOFU opportunities is another reason why you need to have a large enough TOFU so that you can hit your revenue goals.
Next, we look at how to automate your lead generation process to get a higher number of leads for your lead generation funnel and improve your bottom line.
Reps need to rely on automation to succeed in sales today
The future is automation, and it's inevitable. In today's world where competition is fierce, sales automation can help reps cut costs and save time to focus on the most important aspect of their work – selling.
To be successful in sales today, automation becomes a vital tool especially because it ensures the top of the funnel is not neglected.
Automation helps build quality prospect lists that are more likely to lead to MQLs and SQLs. For example, automation can take care of prospecting and cold outreach through email campaigns by doing personalization based on the company name, job title, location, and other parameters. This could aid in improving response rates significantly compared to using generic emails.
With automation tools at their disposal, reps can easily do all this without spending too much time on tedious administrative work.
The automation process works best when there is sufficient data available about prospects. With automation, reps will be able to not only generate leads at scale but also build a sizeable top-of-funnel list for better results.
Such data can be acquired at scale and analyzed within minutes by an AI-powered sales tool to generate top-of-funnel leads for sales outreach.
How can AI drive the prospecting of high-quality leads in your funnel?
The prospecting process can be made easier and more efficient by integrating artificial intelligence. This will help your prospecting team find top-of-funnel leads at scale, build a sizable prospect list, and generate high-quality leads for the bottom of the funnel.
AI prospecting tools leverage artificial intelligence to provide relevant prospect suggestions that are unique to each sales rep based on their specific selling model and prospect profile.
For example, an AI prospector could pull up only those prospects related to a company's products or services much faster than a manual process would allow even if it takes 20 minutes as opposed to several hours needed for human-powered prospecting. In addition, it can do all this in small chunks continuously as opposed to one big prospect list.
Because prospecting is all about identifying new opportunities with potential, the prospector makes it easier for reps to find leads at scale with relevant prospect suggestions.
Taking care of research activities, creation of a unified profile for accounts and leads, and account discovery are just some of the prospecting tasks automated prospectors can do at scale. These activities take up time that could be better spent on more productive prospecting activities like networking or customer qualifications.
This simplified process provides beneficial opportunities for your sales team as well as prospects' accurate prospect suggestions delivered right to reps' desktops.
Truebase prospects for you while your reps sleep
If you are convinced of the benefits that an AI-powered prospecting tool can bring to your lead generation funnel then you would wonder what are some software tools that can help you automate it.
Well, look no further since we have built software that can help you leverage AI in your lead generation funnel without much hassle.
Truebase can help you automate prospecting for leads that best match your ICP. Truebase AI searches throughout the web for signals that indicate that an account might be fit for your outreach.
Since Truebase is continuously learning and searching for leads that fit your ICP it truly prospects for you when you are sleeping.
So are you ready to supercharge your lead generation funnel? Start by signing up for a 14-day free trial of Truebase here and let us know if we can help you.