How to create a sales funnel
Remember the last time you clicked a paid ad on social media, browsed around the website and blog, signed up for an email list and received an offer you couldn’t refuse? You were experiencing a sales funnel – something every business must create in order to succeed.
Russell Brunson, sales funnel expert, entrepreneur, and past Business Mastery speaker, says “Funnels are the future… it’s where everything is going.” But they aren’t “just something you put out there and hope the best happens. You have to understand the marketing behind it.” Everyone has been a part of a sales funnel. But making them work for your business takes knowledge and practice.
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What is the sales funnel?
The sales funnel represents the various stages that a potential customer goes through before making a purchase. At the top of the funnel your audience is larger, and prospects are narrowed down as the path continues. This is why it’s called a “funnel” – you are funneling prospects through the various stages until you’re left with only those who are qualified and willing to make a purchase.
If you want to beat out your competition and skyrocket your success, it’s vital that you understand the sales funnel stages and how to make them work to your advantage.
Sales funnel stages
The sales funnel corresponds with the buyer’s journey. The most successful businesses are there for every step of the journey, delivering the right message at the right time to move them toward making the desired purchase. Before you can learn how to create a sales funnel, you must learn about the basic stages.
The potential customer (called a prospect) learns about your company and enters into your sales funnel. Now you can begin the actual sales process.
Also called the consideration phase, this is when the prospect is learning more about your company and your offering.
In the decision phase, the prospect is evaluating you against your competitors. They don’t just want to know how you can help them – they want to know what makes you stand out.
Known as a “conversion” in sales terms, this is when the prospect actually buys the product.
How to create a sales funnel
The sales funnel stages help marketers break down what they should offer prospects in order to keep them “in the funnel.” While you can’t read every consumer’s mind, you can use the sales funnel as a model to predict what they might want at a given point in time. Here are the best tips for building a sales funnel.
You can think of awareness as the traditional advertising phase: Someone sees a billboard or commercial or hears a radio ad and becomes aware of your product. Here are a few other strategies available in today’s online world:
Paid online ads:
These are like online billboards. You’ll pay a fee to post ads on social media like Facebook and search engines like Google. You can choose very specific audiences, so it’s important to have customer personas so that you know who to target.
Search engine optimization:
This involves building your online authority. You can do this by creating relevant blog articles, building up a lot of good reviews and having a website that contains certain “keywords” related to your industry. This way, when someone searches for “how to fix a thermostat,” your HVAC company will show up in the results.
Word of mouth:
It sounds old-fashioned, but word of mouth is still one of the best ways to gain awareness of your brand.
You’ve caught their attention. Now is your chance to tell your prospect how you can help them. Russell likes to say that, “Copy is the most important part of the funnel.” That’s true at any sales funnel stage, but powerful sales copy is especially vital at the interest and decision stages.
This will be your prospects’ main source of information about your company, so make sure you have a strong website. Develop a tone of voice that fits your brand identity (humorous, knowledgeable, friendly, etc.) and use it throughout your website. Tell a story about the product that makes people excited to buy it; “the best salespeople online and offline are the people who are really good at telling stories,” says Russell.
For lead generation and prospect nurture, email marketing is still one of the best tools. You can get email addresses by making a compelling offer. You might offer a white paper or downloadable template that will help them solve their problem – but that is only available if the prospect provides an email address. Then, follow up with more offers, such as blog articles or videos.
How do you provide more value than anyone else? The decision phase is your chance to communicate that to your prospects. Continue using email, your website and ads, but offer different content:
Humans are social animals – when we see others doing something, we naturally want to do it. Social proof means using this to your advantage. In this stage, testimonials, good reviews and endorsements are key. Learn the power of influencer marketing and master the art of social media. Your prospect needs to see others using – and loving – your product.
What does your product have that your competitors’ versions don’t? This could mean features, affordability, customer service and more. Focusing on your product at this stage gives people concrete reasons to buy from you.
You’ve successfully moved your prospect through the funnel, and they’re ready to make a purchase. Congratulations! Here are two final things to keep in mind at this sales funnel stage:
You must figure out your conversion value – that is, the amount of money you are spending versus the amount of money you gain from each prospect that buys your product. You can go for higher-value conversions that happen less frequently. It all depends on the nature of your business.
Provide the prospect with the strongest offer you can while remaining profitable. Retail offers like free shipping or “add-on” items, called upsells, are the best. Figure out, as Russell says, how to “spend more money profitably.”
Building a sales funnel starts with a good base: a solid brand identity, a clear competitive advantage and good communication. Once you learn how to create a sales funnel – and make it work for you – you’ll end up with raving fan customers who will return again and again.