Designing a Sales Funnel for SaaS: A Guide to Delivering Results
A sales funnel is a strategic framework that guides potential customers through the buying journey, from awareness to conversion.
Sep 25, 2023
Nov 4, 2023
5 mins read
In the world of Software as a Service (SaaS), having an effective sales funnel can be what separates you from your competition.
There’s no question that a sales funnel is critical for guiding potential customers down their buying journey. It covers everything from awareness to conversion. In this blog post, we’ll go through how important it is to have a well-designed sales funnel if you want to thrive in SaaS businesses and provide you with a guide on creating one yourself.
A well-designed sales funnel is crucial for SaaS businesses for several reasons:
It helps you better understand your target audience and tailor your marketing efforts to their needs.
It enables you to guide potential customers through each stage of the buying process, increasing the likelihood of conversion.
It allows you to build customer loyalty and advocacy, leading to repeat business and referrals.
What is a sales funnel, and why is it important?
Also known as SaaS marketing or conversion funnel is an approach to selling in which potential customers go through steps until they make the purchase. That starts with making them aware of your brand and ends right after the first purchase.Unlike e-commerce businesses whose focus is on quick marketing promotions that lead to new customers, SaaS needs to take a more sensitive approach.
Potential customers need to be convinced that your product or service is the best solution for them.As you guide leads through each stage of the sales funnel, remember that your ultimate goal is to build trust through engagement, showcasing expertise, and communicating your values.
On their path towards making a purchase, users will come across various points where they’ll need some kind of assistance. The way you interact with them throughout their journey will have a significant impact on the rate at which they convert.
Understanding your SaaS sales funnel helps you identify gaps and analyse why prospects drop out and fail to convert.
In this context, UX design creates seamless and engaging interactions with your prospects, ultimately driving conversions and business growth.
Now, as we delve deeper into the stages of the sales funnel, it's essential to recognise that you have complete control over the customer's journey through the sales funnel.
SaaS sales funnel stages
In marketing literature, you will often come across the acronym AIDA, which stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action while you build a sales funnel.
These four stages represent a user's behaviour based on human psychology from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel. Each step necessitates a unique approach to seamlessly guide a lead to the next level of the sales funnel.
It is crucial to remain relevant and consistent, as the wrong treatment at the wrong time can cause a lead to drop out of the sales funnel. From a design perspective, I will discuss design approaches later in this context.
Awareness: raise interest, build trust, educate
During the awareness stage, your potential clients seek information and ask questions. They may still need to grasp the problem thoroughly and, therefore, aren't actively searching for a specific solution.
As your potential clients become aware of your company, they may stumble upon one of your blog posts through organic search or come across a mention of your brand in the media. At this stage, your main objective is to capture their attention and increase brand awareness when you build a sales funnel.
While traditional marketing tactics like paid ads and SEO strategies raise awareness, SaaS companies can also effectively increase brand recognition through strategic UI/UX design. Here's how:
Incorporate consistent branding elements like colour, typography, and visual styles that align with your brand identity to help users recognise and associate the design with your brand.
Attract a wider audience by showcasing valuable and engaging content, like blog articles, tutorials, and case studies, in an aesthetically pleasing and accessible manner. This establishes you as a thought leader in your industry.
Use creative illustrations, animations, or interactive components to create a unique and memorable brand experience that enhances brand recall.
For instance, take a look at Zapier. They effectively raise awareness about their workflow automation tool through a colourful and eye-catching landing page with animations. The page communicates the benefits of their product and includes a bright call to action to sign up for a free trial.
Remember, during the awareness stage, focus on capturing attention and increasing brand awareness to lay a strong foundation for future engagement with potential clients.
Engagement: become a credible resource
When visitors return to your website for more content, they progress to the next sales funnel stage. The entry point to this stage in the SaaS sales pipeline is when they provide their email address to download free materials or sign up for a demo.
These actions indicate their interest in your content, signalling the opportunity to provide more detailed information about your product or service to pique their curiosity and engage potential customers.
The engagement stage is often the longest part of the acquisition process as potential clients evaluate their trust in you and determine if they genuinely need a solution to the problem your product solves.
Additionally, here are some suggestions for optimising this stage of your sales funnel through design:
Present information clearly and concisely, ensuring users quickly grasp your SaaS's essential features, benefits, and value proposition.
Incorporate social proof and testimonials from satisfied customers into your website's interface to reinforce the credibility and desirability of your product.
Ensure intuitive navigation and user flows that guide users to relevant information and content based on their interests. By providing easy access to relevant sections, you help potential users discover more about your SaaS, deepening their interest and engagement.
Design interactive elements like clickable prototypes, interactive demos, or product tours to allow users to engage with your product actively.
Discover how we helped PropertyGuru, a real estate technology company. With its intuitive design, potential customers can understand the product's capabilities, generate interest, and engage leads.
Exploration: show up your product values
Once you've captured the attention of leads and earned their trust, the next step is to highlight the benefits of your product and prepare them for a purchase. Showcase the unique selling points of your SaaS, address customer pain points, and emphasise the advantages that set you apart from competitors. The objective is to persuade customers that your product is the best solution for their needs.
To facilitate this, offering a free trial allows leads to test-drive your product's full functionality within a limited time frame. Their experience during the trial will greatly influence their decision to become a paid user. Hence, ensuring a positive user experience at this stage is crucial.
One practical approach is implementing an intuitive user onboarding process. This will help you demonstrate the value of your SaaS concisely and effectively. A well-designed onboarding experience can offer personalisation and customisation options, enabling users to tailor the product to their preferences, eliminate friction and obstacles, and guide leads to that "Aha moment" when they realise your product is exactly what they need.
To illustrate the power of personalisation, let's look at Duolingo, a language-learning app. They adeptly use personalisation to help potential customers explore the app and guide them towards that "Aha moment." They initiate the onboarding process by asking a simple question to engage users from the start.
After users select an option, Duolingo ensures that the onboarding process, lessons, newsletters, and special offers are tailored to their specific needs and interests. Feel free to register for our complimentary email course on igniting an "Aha moment" here.
Conversion: sell and make customers stay
The title of the paragraph captures the main concept. While selling is important, retaining customers is crucial. Since SaaS businesses rely on recurring monthly revenue, securing it is vital. Therefore, more than a myopic sales strategy that focuses solely on customer acquisition is required. Retention should always be a part of the company's acquisition strategy discussions.
Here are some ways to enhance customer conversion and retention:
Simplify the conversion process by reducing form fields, minimising steps, and eliminating unnecessary friction. A smooth and streamlined process reduces user frustration and increases the likelihood of customer retention.
Ensure that your SaaS offers a seamless experience across different screen sizes. A mobile-friendly design enhances the chances of converting users who prefer to take action on their mobile devices.
Incorporate feedback mechanisms and communication channels within the product to encourage users to provide input, report issues, or seek assistance.
Optimise the checkout page of your SaaS to facilitate a smooth and secure transaction, ensuring that customers complete their subscriptions.
For instance, Wise, a SaaS cloud banking platform, effectively utilises a clear and concise checkout page to encourage potential customers to sign up. With ample white space and a prominent call-to-action, users can easily understand what is expected on this page, leading to higher conversion rates.
The magic of customers advocacy
I suggest adding a stage to the SaaS conversion sales funnel. Have you ever considered the immense value of customer referrals? It is every brand's dream to be recommended by satisfied customers. Customer loyalty is a formidable weapon against competitors and a valuable asset for business growth.
In today's world, where social influence holds great power, being mentioned by happy clients can provide significant advantages. Reviews, in a sense, represent a new form of currency. Therefore, it is crucial to remember this when crafting your sales and marketing strategy.
Okay, that concludes the theoretical aspect. Let's delve into designing your first (or perhaps subsequent) SaaS sales funnel.
More Case Studies of Successful Sales Funnels in SaaS Businesses
To illustrate the effectiveness of well-designed sales funnels in SaaS businesses, let's take a look at some notable case studies:
Dropbox: Dropbox leveraged a freemium model, offering a free version with limited storage and enticing users to upgrade to a paid plan for more storage and advanced features.
Slack: Slack provides a seamless onboarding experience, guiding new users through the setup process and showcasing the value of their collaboration platform.
Zoom: Zoom effectively nurtures leads through personalised email campaigns, offering tips and resources to help users maximise their video conferencing solution. They also upsell additional features to existing customers. If you are looking for an email provider, you can check our our list on our email provider blog.
Salesforce: Salesforce takes a personalised sales approach, tailoring their offerings to each customer's specific needs. They provide a customised demo experience and offer personalised recommendations based on customer data.
Simple steps to design your SaaS sales funnel
A well-crafted design is the core of every remarkable user experience. In a sales funnel, UX design plays a crucial role in creating smooth and delightful journeys for your potential customers at every stage, guiding them towards conversion.
Step 1: Understanding Your Target Audience
The first step in designing a sales funnel for your SaaS business is to gain a deep understanding of your target audience. By identifying your ideal customer persona and analysing their customer journey, you can uncover their pain points and create targeted marketing messages that resonate with them. This step is crucial in attracting the right prospects to your sales funnel.
Step 2: Mapping the Sales Funnel
Once you clearly understand your target audience, it's time to map out your sales funnel. A typical sales funnel consists of four stages: awareness, consideration, conversion, and retention.
Awareness Stage: Attract potential customers by creating awareness of your SaaS solution through various marketing channels such as content marketing, social media, and paid advertising.
Consideration Stage: Engage and nurture leads by providing valuable content, personalised emails, and targeted offers. Help them understand the value of your SaaS solution and address any concerns or objections they may have.
Conversion Stage: Convert leads into paying customers by showcasing the benefits and features of your SaaS solution. Offer free trials, demos, or limited-time discounts to encourage them to take the next step.
Retention Stage: Once a customer has converted, focus on building customer loyalty and advocacy. Provide excellent customer support, personalised onboarding experiences, and ongoing communication to keep them engaged and satisfied.
Step 3: Tools for Building a Sales Funnel
Building an effective sales funnel requires the right tools. Here are some essential tools that can help you streamline your sales and marketing efforts:
CRM software: A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software helps you manage and track customer interactions, automate sales processes, and analyse customer data.
Email marketing tools: Use email marketing tools to create personalised and automated email campaigns that nurture leads and drive conversions.
Landing page builders: Create high-converting landing pages on websites like Webflow that capture leads and encourage them to take the desired action. We covered an article comparing Webflow.
Analytics platforms: Utilise analytics platforms to track and measure your sales funnel's performance, identify improvement areas, and optimise your marketing efforts.
Track the Effectiveness of Your Sales Funnel
To evaluate the effectiveness of your SaaS sales funnel, consider the following metrics:
The growth rate of SaaS revenue is a critical business metric that reflects a company's sustainability and profitability. Calculate the revenue growth rate using the formula:
(Second Month Revenue – First Month Revenue) / First Month Revenue * 100 = % Revenue Growth Rate
Remember that the growth rate may vary depending on the stage of your company and can change significantly over time.
Tracking the churn rate is crucial to understanding the percentage of users who have left your product within a specific period. Calculate the churn rate using the formula:
Customer Churn Rate = Number of Churned Users / Total Number of Users
While the average churn rate benchmark ranges from 5% to 7% annually, it is important to note that it may vary for companies of different sizes. Gain more insights about SaaS churn rate by reading this informative article.
Customer Lifetime Value
The customer lifetime value metric indicates the revenue your customers will generate over time. First, calculate the average revenue per account (ARPA). Then, use the formula:
LTV = (ARPA x Gross Margin) / Churn Rate
Customer Acquisition Cost
CAC measures the cost of converting a lead into a customer and is crucial for determining the profitability of your SaaS business. Calculate the customer acquisition cost using the formula:
Customer Acquisition Cost = Cost of Sales and Marketing / Number of New Customers Acquired
While the metrics as mentioned above are vital for measuring the effectiveness of your sales funnel, remember that they are not the only ones to consider. They serve as valuable indicators for optimising your marketing funnel.
Optimise your SaaS sales funnel
To optimise your SaaS sales funnel, it's crucial to identify areas hindering its performance. Begin by assessing which stages are underperforming and where potential leads may slip through the cracks.
Suppose you find that you're attracting plenty of leads but failing to convert them into customers. In that case, it suggests a breakdown in effectively showcasing the unique value of your SaaS during the engagement and exploration stages.
Should your leads reach the free trial phase but fail to convert, your onboarding process likely requires improvement.
If subscribers churn shortly after signing up, it indicates a failure to adequately demonstrate your product's true value or address customer retention.
To optimise your SaaS sales funnel through an enhanced UI/UX design, consider the following strategies:
Craft a distinctive and memorable landing page design that effectively communicates your brand's values.
Design visually prominent and compelling call-to-action buttons that clearly outline the desired action and entice users to progress through the sales funnel.
Streamline the user onboarding experience by minimising steps and providing clear instructions for a seamless journey.
Ensure your SaaS product features a responsive and mobile-friendly design, accommodating users across various devices. Read our mobile design trend report for more info.
Optimise conversion forms by simplifying and removing unnecessary fields while using visual cues to guide users through the process.
Continuously iterate and refine your UI/UX design based on valuable user feedback, enhancing the overall experience of the sales funnel.
Implementing these strategies can enhance your SaaS sales funnel, attract and engage more customers, and drive conversions effectively. Make sure you check with your marketing team's goals and the managing editor of the person who create a sales funnel.
Drive your growth through UX Design in SaaS sales funnel
In the rapidly evolving world of SaaS, a finely-tuned sales funnel can make all the difference between extraordinary success and mere mediocrity. Understanding the critical role of UX design in optimising sales funnel performance is a pivotal step towards unlocking the full potential of your SaaS project.
To effectively guide your leads on their journey to becoming clients, it is crucial to understand and utilise the stages of Awareness, Engagement, Exploration, and Conversion. Take control of tracking the effectiveness of your marketing funnel, analysing weak areas, and optimising your sales pipeline.
If you need professional assistance, Zensite specialises in designing SaaS products that includes web design and mobile app design. By prioritising user needs and transforming complex interactions into exceptional experiences, we significantly contribute to enhancing the user journey at every stage of the sales funnel. Schedule a call with us to learn more about our approach.
While you contemplate your sales funnel strategy, you may find it engaging to explore the stories of successful SaaS companies and uncover the secrets behind their achievements.
Crafting a sales funnel for your SaaS business is a strategic pursuit with immense potential to propel your success. It entails comprehending your target audience, delineating the sales funnel stages, and harnessing the appropriate tools to construct a meticulously designed system that yields fruitful outcomes. Consistently analyse and refine your sales funnel for perpetual enhancements, fostering a perpetually evolving growth cycle.
Ready to take your sales funnel to the next level? We offer a design subscription service, including building sales funnels tailored to SaaS businesses. Contact us today to learn more and start maximising your conversion rates.
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About our author
David is the founder of Zensite, a product design agency based in Singapore. Since 2016, David have been involved in many UI UX related topics covering user experience, product design, digital experience and also founded Friends of Figma, a Figma Community in Malaysia.
Fay Mira is an MD with digital health experience and expertise in UI/UX based in Malaysia. With her experience working with a health tech company, she is currently the experience designer in Zensite since 2016.