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What is a sales funnel?
By simple definition, a sales funnel or a conversion funnel is a tool that helps you consistently attract, engage, convince and convert potential prospects into clients (and raving fans). A well made sales funnel helps you visualise where your prospects are during the process of making a buying decision, as well as identify any roadblocks they may be experiencing that are preventing them from becoming your client.
Like all other funnels, the sales funnel is wide at the top. The reason?
Prospects with all level of engagement are channeled to the top of the funnel, but only the most engaged ones will be channeled to the bottom to be converted into sales and repeat customers.
You should keep in mind that while traveling through the funnel, the number of your prospects decrease as you get closer to a sale. This is actually a good thing – it means that by the time they actually reach out to you, they are already almost entirely convinced that you are the business for them – meaning that the people who reach out to you are more likely to be your ideal customer and are more likely to sign up (improving your service delivery experience as well as increasing your conversion rate).
A successful sales funnel understands the true art of converting. It’s sole purpose is the continuous acquisition, keeping and growing of your ideal customer base – making good use of strong content, technology, social media, and other available tools to serve it’s purpose more efficiently.
Some of the questions you might ask yourself during each stage of the conversion funnel include;
-How do I make my ideal client aware of my brand/business?
-How do I attract them with an irresistible offer?
-How can I recognise and address what they need?
– Why are prospects not moving forward and how can I/we fix it?
Many businesses try to convert a prospect into a sale right away. But instead, they should try moving their clients through a series of smaller conversions. It is a proven method of building a relationship with your prospect, building familiarity and trust – a method which has proven to be better in ultimately leading to a sale.
Let’s look at key sales funnel stages and marketing techniques that you can use to boost your overall conversion rate.
- Attracting customers – your opportunity to increase conversions begins in the awareness stage
What you should know is that quantity should go hand in hand with quality. In building your sales funnel you should focus on creating offers, useful content, and solutions that truly solve your clients’ problem. Know what your competitors are doing and find a way to out-deliver them.
Remember, it is not be about you – it’s about your ideal client. Nothing attracts and convinces people more to your business than when they discover you have a solution for a problem that’s really bothering them.
Ranking organically online through search engine optimisation, blogging, pay-per-click campaigns, social networking and publishing on mainstream news organisation websites are great ways to increase awareness and draw more customers – as long as the content you share is relevant and useful.
- Consideration stage
Once you have your prospect’s attention and have a passing familiarity with your business, you need to connect with them on an emotional level.
Check to see the challenges they are facing in this stage, and offer a solution fast! If they are on your landing page, make sure it has sufficient information on what your business offers. Get their email addresses by adding a call of action and contact form so that you can continue to engage with them one-on-one.
You will then be able to deepen the relationship, encourage them to make small commitments to your business, and at the same time educate them about your brand.
- The customer disconnect
What your emails entail of will in most cases determine whether your conversion rate will flop, or get boosted. There’s nothing more frustrating than clicking on an email expecting to see one thing – only to find something completely different. It brings an instantaneous detachment and lowers your overall conversion rate.
Therefore, make sure your email gets their attention. Keep in mind that most people are extremely busy and won’t bother engaging with content unless it really addresses an issue they have or something they want. So how you present your information to them matters.
- Emails – Learn to nurture them
A simple email can help you educate prospects about your business and build trust, but that depends on how you do it. Most of them might be busy and creating a short, mobile-friendly, shareable email could do you unimaginable wonders.
Try sending automated emails with relevant information; you can, for example, try sending an email that answers the most asked questions about your business.
- Craft a content plan
A good content plan outlines material that you know will most likely resonate with your audience throughout every stage of your sales funnel. But in order to filter between what you ‘think’ is fit for your audience, and what they actually need, it is crucial that you understand where all your readers are in each stage.
For instance, among your readers, there may be people deeply informed on your service offering coming to clarify a point or two, as well as newbies who are not at all familiar with your content. Depending on your business, a simple ‘start here’ for beginners could be highly beneficial.
When developing your content plan, make sure to have clearly defined goals (what are you trying to achieve?), client personas (who are you trying to reach?), a clear idea of the content you already have (what purpose does it serve?), your preferred content management system, and content ideas that will help you achieve your goals.
- Purchase stage
As your funnel narrows, and you have completed the marketing and informing stages, you have reached the point where prospects either become clients, or move on. While this could be exciting as you draw nearer to your goal, remember that people are the most important part of this equation – always make sure you are delivering valuable content that gives people a sense of comfort and assurance as they sign up for your services.
- Promote your sales
A common mistake that business owners make is that they assume prospective clients will figure out how to sign up, simply by just visiting the website. If you want to sell your services, it’s important to clearly spell out what you are offering and how people can get it. Keep the topic of each page to one idea, and have multiple calls to action on that page related to what that page is offering.
Email your subscribers with your latest products or services, offer free shipping where applicable, and if possible introduce live chat.
- Create a rewarding referral system
To come up with a functioning referral system:
- Identify the market that would benefit most by bringing potential clients your way.
- Let the market know the type of prospect you are looking toward to attract – Otherwise, you will end up chasing prospects that are not a good fit.
- Understand that the referral should be beneficial to both you and the one doing referring.
- Let them understand how, and why they should bring the referral to you. Give them something that works for you, and that is in their best interests.
- Brainstorm and come up with rewards that will motivate them to send qualified prospects your way.
- Maintain their trust by delivering exceptional value to the prospects they send your way. Any prospects heading your way because of a referral do so because they trust those who funnelled them to you. Honour that trust and deliver. It will pay off in continued referrals from your original contact, as well as potentially from the new clients they sent your way.
- For example, by integrating a referral program into your sales funnel template you can ask your clients if they know anybody who will benefit from your services, and let them know what will be in it for them if they drive you a prospect that becomes a new client – for example, a discount on your services.
- Remember to show your Gratitude
It may seem trivial, but always let your clients see you are grateful by simply saying a ‘Thank you!’
You can also send them an email periodically, not to promote your business, but to thank them for their continuous support to your business.
When building sales funnels it is easy to fall into focusing solely on the system, conversions and numbers.
But for a your funnel to be truly effective, you need to remember it’s purpose – that is, to grow your business.
And business is all about people.
Remember who you are trying to connect with, and why. How can you help them? Why do you love what you do?