The sales funnel has been in existence for as long as we can remember. Organizations, irrespective of their size use a business model specific sales funnel to map the journey taken by their prospects to become a customer. The sales funnel is divided into various stages. Each step is designed to get the prospect one step closer to the business’s ultimate goal of changing them into a customer. The traditional sales funnel model, however, has been dead for the past few years. Changing consumer behavior is the primary reason why traditional sales funnel are fast falling out of favor. The needs and aspirations of the modern consumer are hard to understand and their behavior even more difficult to predict. Thanks to social media, the way people gather and use information has changed drastically. Many marketing pundits consider the drastic change in buying pattern as one of the main reason why traditional sales funnel models are irrelevant in this digital age. A recent study that reveals almost 60 percent of consumers have already made their decision to purchase a product or not based on their studies before a salesperson approaches them corroborates this theory. The article delves into some more reasons why the traditional sales funnel cannot be a part of a modern sales process and what businesses can do to respond to the change. Take a look.
1. Consumers don’t follow the set path anymore: Gone are the days when consumers used to enter the sales funnel and then pass through every stage in a sequential manner. The modern consumer does not follow a set pattern. They may enter the funnel, jump levels, leave soon and then come back again. Let’s try to understand this scenario through an example
Suppose a consumer reads a blog post or an article that redirects them to your website. They check out your products, visit the blog section but exit without buying anything. A few months down the line, they come across a link shared on a social media platform that redirects them to your website. Yet again they visit your website, fill out a subscription form but do not buy anything. The process can last for months. Many of your customers who visit you through different marketing channels may not buy anything. Trying to map the journey of such buyers and to accurately point out where they exactly are in your sales funnel would be a futile exercise.
2. There are too many distractions: The modern consumer is surrounded by information that is available at the push of a button. Though going through information helps buyers arrive at rational and informed buying decisions, too much information can distract them and they may exit the sales funnel midway. For example, during one of their sessions, a website user may come across an interesting post from another source. Once their interest is spiked they may abandon the cart, thereby, exiting the sales funnel. Also, the modern consumer changes their mind too frequently. One day they may find an interesting article and decide to buy your product, the very next day they may come across a piece of content that contradicts their opinion and they may reverse their decision.
3. Tracking is still not up to the mark: Most marketers track their selected campaigns when in reality they must be tracking even the minutest of their content marketing efforts. Be it a single post or an article, everything must be tracked. These bits of data can be the missing pieces in the puzzle when analyzing campaign history. When businesses understand the fact and work in this direction only then can they get a fair idea about the way their consumers make their decisions?
Looking beyond the traditional sales funnel: The way ahead
The sales funnel has not just fallen out of favor, it is already dead. The harsh reality is a wakeup call for businesses that believe that their sales strategy is incomplete without a sales funnel. Instead of clinging on to the outdated model, businesses need to adopt a fresh view. Here are a few tips for marketers to keep up with their customer’s changing behavior.
1. Ditch the traditional sales funnel in favor of the modern marketing funnel: To understand your customers better, you need to forge a long-term relationship with them. A marketing funnel can help you achieve this objective. Unlike the traditional sales funnel, the marketing funnel does not end at the point-of-sale and extends to the point where your customer becomes your brand advocate.
2.Aid decision making: Make useful information available to your prospects. Get opinion influencers such as guest bloggers and product reviewers on-board. To ensure your customers get answers to all their questions, have an online chat feature on your website.
3. Be accessible across channels: The modern consumer is savvy and uses various channels to shop. To ensure you do not miss out on business opportunities, register your presence across platforms and devices.
4. Collect and analyze data: To understand changing buying patterns, collect and analyze data at regular intervals. Rather than depending on third parties for data collection, prefer having an in-house mechanism in place. First-hand data is more comprehensive and reliable and can give you insights into consumer thinking patterns.