The sales lead funnel - sometimes called the sales pipeline - is essentially the journey of transforming a lead into a customer. It’s made up of a series of key stages, differentiated by how close the lead is to converting.
Being aware of these different stages helps you focus your marketing and sales efforts, make your messaging more relevant, and ultimately turn more prospects into paying customers.
At this stage, a potential customer becomes aware of your product or service through various marketing channels such as advertising, social media, or word-of-mouth.
Once a potential customer becomes aware of your product or service, they may express interest by visiting your website, signing up for your newsletter, or following your social media accounts.
At this stage, the potential customer evaluates your product or service and compares it to other options. They may read reviews, watch product demos, or request a consultation.
When a potential customer shows clear intent to purchase, they move to this stage. They may add items to their cart, request a quote, or schedule a sales call.
During this stage, the potential customer evaluates their purchase decision by comparing the features, benefits, and pricing of your product or service to other options.
The potential customer becomes a paying customer and completes the transaction.
After the purchase, the customer evaluates their experience and decides if they will become a repeat customer. This stage is crucial for customer retention, loyalty, and advocacy.
It’s important to note that these stages aren’t cut-and-dry; customers might skip a stage or revert to an earlier stage due to any number of factors. Every customer’s journey is different - this is just a helpful guideline to help discern the needs of different customer groups.
Facilitating the customer’s journey to move them through the sales funnel quicker is the name of the game when it comes to digital marketing strategy. Lots of money goes towards funding research to determine the best ways to get leads to convert more quickly.
Everything will vary depending on your industry and target audience, but here are some general best practices to employ in your approach to appointment scheduling. If you’re using appointment scheduling software, make sure it has these key features and solutions:
When it comes to appointment scheduling in the digital age, customization is key, because it allows businesses to tailor the booking process to their specific needs, as well as the needs of their customers. This can lead to a more efficient and effective scheduling process, which can result in increased customer satisfaction, improved lead conversion rates, and ultimately, increased revenue.
Custom booking forms allow you to capture the critical info that you need - it’s rare that a one-size-fits-all solution will work perfectly for your business. They also allow you to maintain branding across all pages - even those booking forms that are embedded elsewhere.
Customization further enables businesses to personalize the appointment scheduling experience for each customer. This can include automatically greeting the customer by name, offering personalized recommendations based on their previous appointments, or sending them personalized reminders or follow-up messages, helping nurture unqualified leads.
The adaptable information collecting, branding, and customer experience that the use of appointment scheduling tools allows for makes them a no brainer if your objective is to improve your lead conversion rates.
Photo by Ed Hardie
When customers feel that the scheduling process is tailored to their specific needs, they’re more likely to engage with the business and schedule an appointment. According to marketing research by Accenture Interactive, 91% of customers are more likely to shop brands who recognize, remember, and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations.
Custom workflows and booking forms can help businesses streamline the scheduling process, making the customer experience more seamless and convenient, resulting in increased efficiency, satisfaction, all while reducing the likelihood of booking errors or double-bookings.
Finally, when your branding is consistent across your custom booking forms, you’ll build trust with your customers, which can result in increased loyalty and repeat business.
Now that you know the benefits of appointment scheduling software, it’s time to give some concrete examples along with how you can use them to benefit your business. Here are the five best appointment scheduling tools on the market right now:
An ecommerce essential, Drift is a conversational marketing platform that allows you to engage with your website visitors in real-time and personalize their experience based on their behavior and preferences.
With Drift, you can create targeted messages and campaigns, qualify leads, and schedule appointments. Drift also includes features like chatbots, AI-powered lead scoring, and integrations with other tools like Salesforce and HubSpot.
Booknetic is a scheduling plugin designed for Wordpress that can be tailored to meet your specific needs. Its features include personalized booking forms, comprehensive workflow management, and a customer panel that is mobile-friendly, allowing clients to easily create profiles and access their appointments while on the move.
Booknetic offers over 15 integrations including leading payment and video conferencing platforms like PayPal, Stripe, Zoom, and others, making it an excellent and versatile investment for any small business.
Calendly is a popular scheduling tool that helps businesses and individuals streamline the process of scheduling meetings and appointments. It allows users to create customizable scheduling pages that allow others to self-schedule appointments or meetings with them at a time that is convenient for both parties.
By automating the scheduling process, the need for annoying back-and-forth emails or phone calls to coordinate meeting times is eliminated, helping mitigate the loss of those customers who might fall by the wayside.
Integrations with calendar applications like Google Calendar help reduce scheduling conflicts, letting users see their availability in real time. Calendly can also send out automatic reminders and confirmation prompts, helping you reduce no-shows and last-minute cancellations, saving valuable time and money.
Bookafy offers features such as customizable booking forms, appointment scheduling, and, of course, calendar integration. With Bookafy, businesses can manage their appointments, view their schedules in real-time, and communicate with customers via email and text messaging. It also includes a mobile-responsive customer portal that allows clients to create profiles and view and edit appointments on the go.
In addition, Bookafy offers a whopping 15 integrations, including key payment and video conferencing platforms like PayPal, Stripe, Zoom, and more. Its comprehensive scheduling solution along with its wide range of capabilities and integrations set Bookafy apart from competitors.
Doodle differentiates itself from other competitors by emphasizing group scheduling and unified automatic reminders, which can be especially valuable for businesses that need to schedule meetings or appointments with multiple participants. Doodle also offers a simple, user-friendly interface that makes scheduling easy and convenient for customers and participants. The calendar integration feature helps ensure that scheduling conflicts are avoided and that all participants are notified of any changes to the schedule.
The ultimate goal is to create a simple and seamless customer experience. Accomplish that, and you’ll see the results in your lead conversion rate. Scheduling appointments is an aspect of the customer experience that you can’t ignore. Make it responsive, easy, and smooth so you can speak with your leads and move them through the sales funnel faster.
Do this, and you’ll have overcome one of the key challenges for startups in 2023, giving you a huge leg up on your competition.