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A sales funnel is a concept that illustrates the various stages of a customer's purchase decision process. While sales approaches their work using a pipeline, marketing uses B2B sales funnel strategies. As a salesperson, it is important to understand your organization’s funnel.

The Stages of a B2B Sales Funnel

Marketing uses major stages and acronyms to describe each stage and its outcomes. Before exploring how to use the funnel, we’ll go over these terms.

  • Top of the funnel (ToFu): The ToFu stage helps create awareness among potential clients by attracting their attention. At this point, you aim to draw in a large quantity of people. Not all of them will be prepared to begin the customer journey, but once they enter the funnel, you can assess buyer intent. ToFu marketing tactics for B2B include advertisements, social media, and landing pages to acquire contacts’ information. Some of these contacts are often described as MQLs (marketing qualified leads), meaning they meet the ideal customer profile. Analyzing these inbound leads can be part of a strategic prospecting process.
  • Middle of the funnel (MoFu): At this stage, the potential buyer is interested in learning more about your products and services. They also have questions and concerns as they pursue their buyer's journey. A successful sales funnel needs to help salespeople understand the buyer's pain points and how to address them. When selling B2B, it’s important to recognize that your client is making a complex decision. At this point, some organizations provide a B2B salesperson to help the decision-maker navigate an unfamiliar process. Providing a sales rep here can shorten longer sales cycles. In other cases, marketing nurtures the contacts to move them to the next stage.
  • Bottom of the funnel (BoFu): This stage measures the success of the sales funnel. At each of the prior stages, contacts fall out of the funnel. The ones who remain are qualified buyers who are committed to purchasing what you sell. At this point in the sales funnel, it is time to sell. Here, you need B2B salespeople to take over the conversation to help buyers make a purchase decision.

In ToFu, the buyer is exploring. In MoFu, they are researching the company's offerings and learning how different companies solve their problems. It's likely the contact is also in a number of other sales organizations’ funnels. In BoFu, the buyer is interested in buying.

ToFu Strategies: Creating Awareness

The top of the funnel is where sales organizations create awareness. There are several B2B sales and marketing strategies to capture attention and make prospects aware of your ability to help them solve their problem.

Content Marketing

  • Blogging: One of the primary ways to build a sales funnel is blogging. Articles that explain and describe the prospective client's needs work well at the top of the funnel. A landing page that allows the potential buyer to download an asset provides the sales organization with a contact that is not yet an SQL (sales-qualified lead).
  • Social media: Social media can help an organization fill the top of the funnel. This is free advertising where the sales organization's buyers spend time. In B2B sales, this includes LinkedIn.
  • Video marketing: More and more, you see video marketing at the top of the funnel. It's more compelling and more engaging than other content. In a world of YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, video is what buyers prefer.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • Paid advertising: Most companies using a sales funnel will spend money on paid advertisements, ensuring they get the traffic they need to fill the top of the funnel.
  • Google ads: Because Google owns search, these ads are certain to bring buyers to your landing page and build the top of your funnel. Depending on your keywords, this can be a heavy expense, especially when your competitors are bidding for the same traffic.
  • Social media advertising: Paid advertisements on social can accelerate the growth of the top of your sales funnel. Facebook seems to dominate social media, along with YouTube and Instagram.

Networking and Referral Programs

  • Networking: The key to successful networking is asking yourself: What does it mean to make your outreach useful? You should tailor your messaging so it contains information that your prospective clients will find useful. Maintain an other-oriented perspective and demonstrate business acumen and strategic empathy, meaning you understand the other person’s challenges and perspective. This is what building rapport with someone looks like in today’s business climate.
  • Referral program: This is one of the best B2B prospecting tools and it belongs squarely at the top of the funnel. When a client signs a contract with you, ask them to agree that, once you deliver on your promise, they will give you a referral to someone else you can help.


MoFu Strategies: Generating Interest

The goal of the middle of the funnel is to generate interest, which helps sales and marketing teams determine buyer intent and identify MQLs. This helps you build a strategy for target pursuit. The following strategies support this work:

  • Lead magnets: Lead magnets allow your prospective clients to download an asset that will help them with their buyer's journey. The download is usually a rich asset that proves your company understands the contact, and their pain points, industry, and needs.
  • Webinars and events: Webinars and events can build the middle of your funnel. Most of the time, they feel like a training to understand some important aspects of the buyer's needs.
  • Email marketing: Email marketing is an effective way to build the middle of the funnel. It's also good for nurturing prospects over time and helping them take the next step.
  • Retargeting and remarketing: You know those cookies you pick up on the Internet? They are there to ensure the company can retarget you. This is why after a search, you see ads from the companies you visited.

BoFu Strategies: Nurturing Relationships and Closing Deals

Your BoFu communications can make or break your sales funnel. It’s important to optimize B2B sales funnels for conversions, which you can do using the following:

  • Personalized email campaigns: There is an art to creating email campaigns that speak to the qualified leads that have found their way to the bottom of the funnel. When selling B2B, this should be done via an account-based marketing (ABM) for B2B sales funnels.
  • CRB software: You need CRM software for sales funnels. Tracking the buyer's journey gives you insights and allows you to optimize each step of the journey.
  • Sales team alignment: As companies build revenue teams, it is critical that sales and marketing align on the bottom of the funnel to close deals.
  • Sales training and coaching: It is important that your sales force is trained in a modern sales approach built on value creation strategies. Without an appropriate sales training strategy and ongoing coaching, the sales force may lose deals they should have won. You want as little slippage as possible in your sales funnel.
  • Customer testimonials and case studies: These "proof providers" can help give the buyer the certainty they need to move forward with their purchase. It can also help those who are on the fence to move forward.

Measuring and Analyzing Your Sales Funnel

To optimize the funnel, you need to measure and analyze your sales.

  • Metrics: There is an enormous list of metrics to track to help you analyze your sales funnel, including website visits, time on site, number of people providing contact information, downloads, keyword ranking and visibility, or percentage of voice. Work with marketing to determine the most important sales KPIs for funnel analysis.
  • Tools for measuring and analyzing: You can find all your metrics on website visits on Google Analytics or a similar service.
  • CRM software: Your CRM can be a rich resource, but only if you treat it as the strategic tool it should be. This houses the record of your relationship with your clients and your contacts.

Action Plan:

  1. Understand the different stages of the B2B sales funnel and create strategies for each stage, including top-o-the-funnel (ToFu) awareness, middle-of-the-funnel (MoFu) interest generation, and bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu) relationship nurturing and deal closing.
  2. Use a variety of marketing and sales tactics to attract potential customers or clients, such as content marketing, social media, video marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), paid advertising, networking and referral programs, lead magnets, webinars, events, email marketing, and retargeting and remarketing.
  3. Personalize email campaigns for qualified leads in the BoFu stage and use customer relationship management (CRM) software to track the buyer's journey and optimize each step of the funnel.
  4. Align sales and marketing teams on the BoFu stage to close deals, provide sales training and coaching, and use customer testimonials and case studies to build trust and provide social proof.
  5. Measure and analyze the sales funnel using metrics such as website visits, time on site, number of contacts, downloads, keyword ranking and visibility, and percentage of voice, and use tools such as Google Analytics and CRM software to optimize the funnel based on data.

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Sales 2023
Post by Anthony Iannarino on April 7, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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