From my experience as a marketer, your sales funnel is one of the most important and lethal weapons in your arsenal – yet so many businesses still don’t use it properly. In fact, a lot aren’t even sure what it is!
Let me help.
A conversion funnel is essentially the process of acquiring new leads and converting them into repeat customers.
Think of your funnel as a roadmap which you use to gently lead your prospects on a pre-planned journey, and each stop on the way represents part of your sales and marketing strategy.
Let’s break it down a bit further.
Here are just two essential components of any good sales funnel:
Subtle – your prospect should not feel that they are being shepherded into a certain action. Herein lies the skill – driving a customer into doing what you need them to, without being overly salesy and putting them off. The funnel should be designed to make it as simple and easy as possible for the prospect to convert. We do this by adding value in advance.
Broken down into steps – you can’t expect all of your prospects to magically turn into customers with the click of your fingers. There needs to be a number of multi-faceted steps involved to encourage and facilitate this process.
These steps might include the following:
- Providing value in exchange for an email address
- Promoting a low ticket product/service to turn leads into customers and gain customer confidence
- Asking customers if they need some help with [insert your service offering here …]
- Post-sale survey
All of these components work together to form a conversion funnel. And here’s something you might not know: one of the key secrets to a successful business is optimising this funnel. But how do you get started? Keep reading to find out.
One key thing to remember is that optimising your funnel isn’t a magic button. You won’t suddenly turn into a global business with a multi-million pound turnover overnight. But I’ve spent so much time building, refining and optimising sales funnels for businesses just like yours that I’ve picked up a thing or two about equipping your business with the best possible chance of business success. Here’s some of my key tips and tricks for crafting a killer sales funnel to convert those leads into customers.
Decide which type of funnel best suits your business
The mistake I see businesses making time and time again is believing that there is a one-size-fits-all sales funnel – which simply isn’t true. The first step you need to take is to decide what you need your funnel to do.
Do you need to turn cold prospects into leads? Then you need a funnel which is geared toward acquisition.
Maybe you need to turn warm leads into customers? Try building a funnel which focuses on activating those existing leads.
Perhaps you need to turn customers into repeat customers – and this calls for a funnel designed to monetise your activities.
Once you’ve identified the type of funnel you need, it will become much easier to build and optimise.
Now, let’s look at each type of funnel in a bit more detail, and the types of activities which you might need to invest in order to optimise each one.
Funnel One – Acquisition
The main aim here is to get more people interested in your business, whilst breaking even or even seeing a profit (bonus!) from your activity. To get as many new leads as possible, you might be tempted to throw everything you got at them. Discounts, freebies… you name it.
But steady on, this is likely to do no more than make you come off as a bit, well, desperate. A much more effective (and lower risk) strategy is to carve out a much smaller but still worthwhile discount or offer and test the water. The prospect feels like they are less tied into business with you, and is introduced to you in a less pressured way.
Making a smaller offer can be done by splitting – or splintering – a larger one. You can’t expect a new customer to fully commit to you straight away – by offering something much smaller, the prospect feels like they are less tied into business with you. You’re also more likely to see a higher conversion rate, making it a lower risk strategy. Sure, the customer may choose to make a bigger purchase you commit to you eventually, but first a certain sequence must be followed – through splintering your main offer. Here’s an example:
If you design websites, instead of a full website build you could offer – or splinter – a logo in the first instance, and gain a new customer and a new lead for your database in the process. Once they’ve purchased the logo and liked it, they’re much more likely to go for the full website.
Funnel Two – Activation
The goal of this funnel is to warm up your current leads and convert them to fully-fledged customers. Providing this group with a positive buying experience will mean they’re more likely to become repeat customers (but more on this in a minute).
So how can you start getting those leads on your side?
Make them panic.
No, really. It might sound counter intuitive, but one of the most effective methods of pushing your leads to take that first leap is to instil a sense of urgency through some kind of limited time offer or flash sale. The combination of a good discount and a short time period is dynamite – trust me!
Once a customer has made one purchase from you, they’re much more likely to make a second, a third, a fourth. It’s key here that the focus of the activation funnel is the number of successfully converted customers, and not profit (check out the monetisation funnel for more information on this)!
If you’re starting to quake in your boots thinking about the impact on your bottom line, I’ll be honest with you – you might take a slight hit. But the goal here is not to rake in the profits – it’s to warm up those customers. And in the long run, that’s what’s going to secure your ROI.
For ease, you can re-purpose the method you used for the first funnel, but replace the low-risk free products with the flash sale (or similar).
Funnel Three – Monetisation
Now, for the part you’ve been waiting for. This funnel is designed to generate as much revenue as possible.
The most effective method to keep those customers coming back time and time again is to offer them help with implementing your lower value products. This is one of the most effective ways to get them on to a sales call or to sell high price-point products and services. This simple rewording appeals directly to the customer and works in almost any industry: “need some help designing your business cards?” “need some help landscaping your garden?”
It not only puts you in their good books and reminds them why they chose you in the first place, but it also gives you a way in to openly communicate with them and further promote your products and services.
Of course, throughout the lifespan of your business, you should employ all three of these funnels. Really, all three should be running simultaneously and directed at your prospects, leads and customers.
I hope this post has helped you to understand a little bit about the importance of a sales funnel and how you can apply the right one to your business. Questions or comments? Just let me know, I’m happy to help!