Sales funnels are one of the most powerful tools for businesses. They’re also one of the most underused. Many new entrepreneurs or business owners don’t realize that it’s extremely easy to build a sales funnel
In this article, we’ll go over the basics of sales funnels, what makes them work, and what doesn’t. And hopefully we’ll give you all the tools you need to leverage this fantastic technique to increase your own sales.
Quick Recap: What is a Sales Funnel
We’ve written a whole post on the topic, so if you’re completely new to sales funnels, this a good place to start – WHAT IS EXACTLY A SALES FUNNEL. But the gist is that sales funnels clearly represent the efficiency of your sales processes.
While a sales pipeline focuses on specific stages of the selling process, the funnel lets you picture the whole process. It takes its name from the shape of a diagram, where the top is large (representing a large amount of customers), and the bottom is short, representing actual conversions
Understanding the Sales Funnel Basics
At their core, all sales funnels follow more or less the same structure. It goes as follows:
Of course, when it comes to real-life situations, they can be a lot more complex. For instance, in the context of cold calling, it could look like this:
Sales pitch #1
Sales pitch #2
The main takeaway is that there is no one-size-fits-all, especially as sales funnels are a technique that will look very different if you are working with an email marketing campaign, or a static website.
However, there are still key points you should hit to ensure your sales funnel goes from ok to fantastic.
The 5 Steps to Follow to Build the Best Sales Funnels
# 1 Understand Your Target Audience
The first phase of awareness needs to work both ways. Customers need to know your product or service exists. But you also need to know who your customers are. And sure, you could say “I want the entire world to buy my stuff” but that’s both unrealistic and unproductive. If you cast to wide a net, your message might end up drowned in noise.
To refine your search, here are a few questions you might ask yourself:
Who is my demographic? Age, gender and geolocation are three variables you absolutely must have an idea of.
What is my audience’s pain point? Remember the old saying: it’s easier to sell painkillers than vitamins. Even if your offering falls in the latter category, it’s important to understand.
Which channel will engage them best? Face-to-face meetings? Online social media? And if so, which channel do they favour? Visual platforms like Instagram or Pinterest? Or channels that work better with descriptions like Twitter or Medium?
What are their interests? It could help to cross-promote your product with similar businesses, for instance. Selling sportswear? Why not target the fitness niche, and the outdoorsy types as well!
# 2 Build Your Buyer Personas
Once you have a general idea of who your customers are, it helps to segment them into different buyer personas. While it may seem similar to the aforementioned point, this section is more about how to market to specific customers:
Why will they buy my product/service? It goes without saying, but a grandmother purchasing a gift for a teenager will need to be marketed to completely differently than said teenager.
What will influence them into buying it? Continuing with the sportswear example, what are the points you want to highlight? Durability? Affordability?
How will they perceive the brand after purchasing it? What kind of long-term associations do you want to create for your customers? Cheap and disposable? Or do you want them to turn into repeat customers?
# 3 Attract Traffic
This is where the real awareness phase begins. The good news? There is no shortage of free and paid online channels to leverage these days. The bad news: since everyone can use the same tools, it’s harder to be heard, so it’s usually best to focus on the channels you know you can master:
Social media: Create a business account on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram of even Linkedin. Find fans, followers and subscribers, and start your funnel from there.
SEO: Redirect users from Google or Bing queries directly to your site through the magic of search engine optimization.
PPC campaigns: Use the powerful ad networks from Google of Facebook, amongst others
Guest posting: Good as part of an SEO strategy, but can also work great if you have access to high-traffic websites
Influencer marketing: Let high-profile social media users sing the praises of your offer (for a fee or freebies), and see users flock to your site.
# 4 Engage!
Customers straddling the line between the interest and decision phases? It’s time to engage them directly. This is where it can help to jump from one channel to a more direct and efficient one:
Phone calls: Old fashioned, but sometimes the best way to convert indecisive customers.
Social media: Fast, free and public. Remember to be extra careful about the last part, as all public communications should reflect your brand voice and tone.
Email marketing: If you’ve managed to get an address, it’s time to use it!
Live chat: Excellent solution to convert site visitors into customers, either through live agents or automated solutions.
Product demo: It’s now easier than ever to do it online through VOIP tools or video streaming.
# 5 Convert your leads
There is only really one main piece of advice at this stage: reduce friction as much as possible. Take a leaf from Amazon’s book by enabling one-click buying options if possible. Or decrease the number of fields to fill in a payment form.
Businesses tend to lose a ton of potential sales at checkout because the page is either too slow, complex or overwhelming. In short: you want to create the easiest user experience you can.
In war like in sales, preparation can win you half the battle. The good news is that a great sales funnel is only a few hours of research away. Yes, it is a time investment, but it also completely free. Besides, good research for building your sales funnel is sure to reap numerous rewards in the long run.