Sales Funnel = Clarity
One way to help make your sales strategy meaningful is for you to create and draw out a sales funnel. I know you’ve probably seen sees funnels before, but have you ever created one? Not just thought about it, but actually put pencil to paper and drew it out? You should. Go get a piece of paper and a pencil. I’ll wait….
Now we all know what a funnel looks like and a sales funnel is very similar. The sales funnel is called that because it’s wide at the top, which allows for lots of potential customers to go through, and narrow at the bottom, where potential customers are turning into actual paying customers and repeat customers. Creating a sales funnel helps you visualize your sales process and the specific steps that lead to sales. Although you know where the money comes from, seeing it in black and white can make it stick in your mind’s eye and keep you focused there.
A Quick Explanation of the Sales Funnel Stages
As people enter the sales funnel as potential customers, some will drop out immediately as they will not be interested or in need of your product or business. You walk into a fancy jewelry shop and find out they don’t change batteries on your Timex watch. You slip out of their sales funnel.
The next tier of the funnel is for potential customers who have shown some interest in your business. They sign up for your email list, request a brochure or a meeting, etc. You should be thinking about how to get the right customers from this stage to the next stage of commitment. Eventually, your goal is to funnel all of these prospects into the next stage of commitment or funnel out all those that are ultimately uninterested or not a good fit for your business. It’s dangerously seductive to look at a ton of prospects sitting at this stage of the funnel and think, “If only half of them convert to buying customers, I’ll be rich!” It makes wishful thinking your strategy and can make you think you don’t have to work as hard to keep filling your funnel. If they’ve been sitting at this stage of your sales funnel for a long time, you want them to choose to go one way or the other. Either move them forward in the sales process or let them go.
Those that remain can be converted to customers who buy one time and ultimately become repeat customers. Once you draw it out, the sales funnel will help you identify problems along the process, perhaps identifying a lack of exposure to potential clients or the need for additional sales training. In the end, you’ll save a lot of time and money by pinpointing the right customers identified through your sales funnel.
When creating a sales funnel, the best thing to do is make them personalized. There is no “right way” for everyone. Some are simple (see above) and some are more complex. Which one is the right one for you? Potentially both. Potentially neither. The real question is, what meets your needs? Ultimately, what’s going to help you turn prospects into customers? If you’ve never created a sales funnel before, or if your business is fairly straightforward with a relatively short sales cycle, I would recommend a simpler sales funnel to start out with.
- First, you need to create a way to introduce your business to your leads. How do they find you?
- Second, you need something that leads your prospect into the funnel, a low-cost/no-cost, low barrier to entry offer. This should require very little commitment from your prospect, like entering their email address in exchange for a report or a checklist.
- Third, you need to educate your prospect. Teach them what they need to know to make an informed decision. Help them understand why your offering is the reasonable choice to help them meet their needs or solve their problem. While you might fear this will delay the final sale, it gives you a way to position yourself to demonstrate your expertise or the repeated need for your product.
- Fourth, you’ll ask for the sale. Make the offer. If you’ve made a good case for your offering, you shouldn’t have to trick people into buying. If you have to trick people into buying, you’re not making a good offer. Improve your product or service or improve the way you present it so that it make sense to the customer. Then asking for the sale becomes easier.
- Finally, you need to follow up with your customer after the sale. When your prospect becomes a customer they usually like you more at that time than any other. They are on your side. Let them know you appreciate them. Ask them for referrals. Ask them what was most helpful in getting them from a “maybe” to a “yes.”
There are some things you need to keep in mind after you’ve created a sales funnel. Be sure to revise your sales funnel and find ways to fix “leaks” or places that potential sales have fallen through. Make your funnel stronger over time. You will want to keep track of your results and be sure to measure your leads and conversions. Always look for ways to improve your numbers.
Having a sales funnel is a great way resource in your business. You will want to plan your sales funnel and not just wing it. A good funnel will move prospects through to becoming your customer and remove those that aren’t a good match for your business. That’s exactly what you want, right? More prospects converting to more customers generating more revenue and more profit.
Please leave a comment and let us know: if you are using a sales funnel in your business, how has it helped you? And if you aren’t using one, why not?