Sales funnel bottlenecks are a concern in the B2B industry. As you may know, a sales funnel is a representation of the different stages of your B2B company's sales process. It consists of top-of-the-funnel, middle-of-the-funnel and bottom-of-the-funnel stages. Top-of-the-funnel stages may include awareness and interest. Middle-of-the-funnel stages, conversely, may include consideration and purchase intent. Finally, bottom-of-the-funnel stages may include evaluation and purchasing.
When you generate a new lead, he or she will typically enter the top of your B2B company's sales funnel. You must then nurture the sales lead through the lower stages of your B2B company's funnel in hopes of converting him or her into a loyal buyer. Unfortunately, bottlenecks can occur. With a sales funnel bottleneck, leads will remain stuck in a particular stage of your B2B company's sales funnel. How do you tackle sales funnel bottlenecks exactly?
What Is a Sales Funnel Bottleneck?
Even if you're familiar with sales funnels, you might be unfamiliar with sales funnel bottlenecks. A sales funnel bottleneck is simply a blockage in your B2B company's sales funnel. It's characterized by the presence of a large number of sales leads or prospective buyers in a particular stage of the sales funnel for a prolonged period.
Sales funnel bottlenecks are similar to traffic bottlenecks. With a traffic bottleneck, drivers will get stuck in a heavily congested area. With a sales funnel bottleneck, leads will get stuck in an area of the sales funnel. They won't progress farther down the sales funnel. Rather, a sales funnel bottleneck will cause a similar type of congestion in the sales funnel, resulting in sales leads accumulating in a particular stage.
Why Sales Funnel Bottlenecks Are Bad
Generating sales is typically the primary objective of all B2B companies. Unfortunately, sales funnel bottlenecks can restrict your B2B company's ability to generate sales.
Sales only occur at the bottom of the sales funnel. Bottlenecks, conversely, occur in the top-of-the-funnel or middle-of-the-funnel stages. Leads will become stuck in these stages of your B2B company's sales funnel. You may exhaust countless resources trying to move them down the sales funnel. Regardless, a sales funnel bottleneck will result in stagnation that consumes resources and harms sales revenue.
Research shows that over two-thirds of B2B companies don't monitor or measure their sales funnel. As a result, they struggle to identify bottlenecks. Failure to find and resolve sales funnel bottlenecks is a serious mistake that will ultimately cost your B2B company sales. While you can't always avoid sales funnel bottlenecks from occurring, there are ways to deal with them.
Remove Bad Sales Leads
You can clean up your B2B company's sales funnel so that it's better protected from bottlenecks by removing bad leads from it. It's estimated that 40% of all B2B leads are bad. Bad leads are those that have invalid, inaccurate, duplicate or incomplete data. Bad leads can enter your B2B company's sales funnel where they cause or contribute to bottlenecks.
Removing bad sales leads will result in a cleaner and less-congested sales funnel. If a lead has invalid, inaccurate or incomplete data, you can remove the lead. Doing so will result in fewer leads in that particular area of your B2B company's sales funnel.
Prioritize Leads in Congested Stages
Another tip to tackle sales funnel bottlenecks is to prioritize sales leads in congested stages of your B2B company's sales funnel. Some sales reps focus on leads at the bottom of the sales funnel, believing that it will yield more sales. After all, leads at the bottom of the sales funnel are typically ready -- or about to be ready -- to make a purchase.
If you spend most of your time targeting bottom-of-the-funnel leads, though, you may overlook leads in other stages, including congested stages. Therefore, leads will continue to accumulate in the congested stages where they create bottlenecks. Rather than focusing on bottom-of-the-funnel leads, prioritize leads in these congested stages. Nurturing leads in congested stages will encourage them to move through your B2B company's sales funnel and, hopefully, reach the bottom where you can then convert them into loyal buyers.
Use Multiple Methods of Communication
When reaching out to leads in your B2B company's sales funnel, use multiple methods of communication. Moving a sales lead from one stage of your B2B company's sales funnel to another stage typically requires communication. You must communicate with the lead to compel him or her to take the next step towards becoming a buyer. If you're unable to reach the lead, however, he or she will remain stuck in your B2B company's sales funnel.
You'll have an easier time reaching sales leads if you use multiple methods of communication. According to Statista, 81% of B2B buyers prefer to communicate with vendors or suppliers via email. With that said, some B2B buyers prefer phone communications, whereas others prefer contact form or livechat communications. Instead of using a single method of communication, use multiple methods of communication to increase your chance of reaching leads who are stuck in your B2B company's sales funnel.
Create a Compelling Value Proposition
Don't underestimate the importance of a compelling value proposition. While bottlenecks can occur in any stage of the sales funnel, they are most common in the consideration stage. As the name suggests, the consideration stage is where leads "consider" your B2B company's products or services. They'll typically check the features and benefits -- along with the prices -- while comparing them to your B2B company's competitors.
Without a compelling value proposition, leads may remain stuck in the consideration stage. A value proposition is a sales message that highlights the unique value of your B2B company's products or services. It's designed to make leads choose your B2B company over its competitors. Creating a compelling value proposition will move leads through your B2B company's sales funnel more quickly, resulting in fewer and less-severe bottlenecks.
Sales funnel bottlenecks are frustrating. You may generate thousands of leads during a given period, but unless you're able to move them through your B2B company's sales funnel, they won't yield sales revenue. Instead, some of the leads may become stuck in a particular stage, thereby creating a sales funnel bottleneck. You can tackle sales funnel bottlenecks such as this by removing bad leads, prioritizing congested leads, using multiple methods of communication and creating a compelling value proposition.