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How to optimise customer experience at every stage of the sales funnel

6th Oct 2015
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Regardless if you are trying to sell a very simple or a very complex product or service, the customers you are trying to target don't usually go from not knowing about you at all to purchasing from you immediately.

Instead, you have to take potential customers on a journey of discovery, evaluation, and eventually developing a purchase intent on their own time. Only then will you successfully close a deal and win a new customer.

You know this journey under the term “sales funnel,” which is divided into distinct phases, each of which require sales and marketing personnel to optimise it for a more positive customer experience.

Let’s take a closer look at how you might do that.

Phase 1: Qualifying the lead

First, you have to answer one simple – yet challenging – question, “Who is your target market?” This is where your marketing staff can help you define a “persona", which perfectly describes how your ideal customer would think, act, and purchase.

This crucial information can take a lot of time to determine, but it informs every single stage of the sales funnel that follows. The more you know about your target persona early on, the easier it will be for you to optimise their experience as they go down the sales funnel – and ultimately to make a sale.

Phase 2: Discovery

In this stage you will most likely still work closely with the marketing department as you will execute campaigns and promotions that will help your target customer discover your product.

To optimise the user experience during this important discovery phase, consider who you are targeting and where they are located at the time of being exposed to your product. With the increasingly fragmented market environment of the digital age, in which consumers are spread across a wide range of digital devices, it is as challenging as it is critical to prepare various campaigns tailored to the different platforms and viewing behaviours of your customers.

Phase 3: Interest and evaluation

Once you have a potential customer hooked, it is time to provide her or him with enough information to further their interest and help them evaluate the product (to your advantage, of course).

Similar to the tailored marketing campaigns mentioned above, it is essential to customise the user experience in a way that provides potential customers with a feeling of familiarity and trust. You can help keep your customer engaged, for example, with related products or recommended “tips and tricks” articles that show how much you care.

Help them appreciate the value of your product by anticipating the questions they might ask and providing the answers before they ask them.

Phase 4: Intent and solution

Now it is time to provide potential buyers with the strongest arguments for why they should purchase your product. Your arguments can be strong now, because you have learned about the customer’s interests and preferences in phase 2 and 3.

Be specific, kind and helpful. If you can afford it, offering customer service either over the phone or via chat online is a great way to wipe out any last doubts the buyer might have.

Phase 5: Closing the deal

As a final offer and convincing argument to make a purchase, here is where you might bring up discounts, promotions or other deals. Make it irresistible and let the customer feel that they were the ones who “negotiated” or discovered the final offer.

Optimising the customer’s experience in this final step can be accomplished by making her or him feel like a hero, who got a better deal than everyone else. Also, now that you have a commitment, simplify the payment process as much as possible, which means keeping email sign-ups and endless credit card forms to a minimum and offering easy-pay solutions like PayPal or Apple Pay.

If you have done your homework in phase 1 and know exactly who you are targeting, you will notice that the rest of the sales funnel can be smooth sailing. The most important thing is to always put yourself in the customers’ shoes and ask yourself, “How would I feel or respond?”

Nick Rojas is a freelance business/marketing journalist and a business consultant.

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