Every thriving business has a sales funnel in place. It’s how they generate leads and sales, without which no business can survive. In this comprehensive guide, I will explain the sales funnel concept and how to leverage digital technology to set up one for your business or brand.
While the term sales funnel might sound new, the concept itself is ancient. It has always been applied in some form or the other by businesses and brands for centuries. The only difference is that the digital era has redefined how it is applied in this day and age.
Today, this concept has become a major part of digital marketing, and if implemented correctly, can be the game-changer for your business.
What exactly is a sales funnel?
Ryan Deiss, the co-founder of Digital Marketer, describes the sales funnel as a multi-step, multi-modality process that moves prospective browsers into buyers.
It’s the way a business creates the enabling environment for its potential customers to make a purchasing decision.
It’s all of the processes involved in moving prospects from the point of awareness of your product/service to the point where they take action, successfully complete a purchase and eventually become loyal customers and brand ambassadors.
With a sales funnel, you move people from cold, to warm, then to a hot market.
It is called a ‘funnel‘ because like in real-world funnel, the top of it is wide and it narrows as you go down the funnel.
See the diagram below.
Four stages of a sales funnel
As you can see, there are four stages of the funnel in this simple AIDA model (there are actually different models of Sales Funnel):
AIDA is summarized below,
-you notice a product
-you start thinking about it or considering it
-you want it, make up your mind about getting it
Let’s look at it in more detail.
This is where you attract people in the cold market (who don’t know about you or your business) and get them to know about you.
Essentially, you draw traffic to your business.
You can do that through organic means like blogging, social media, search engine optimization (SEO) or through paid means like Facebook ads, Google ads, etc.
At this stage, the goal should be to move to the next stage of the funnel; that is to convert them to leads.
Some businesses don’t understand this, so they’re trying to sell their products at this stage. It rarely works. The prospects don’t trust you enough to buy from you yet. They are still cold, remember.
What you need to do is to start evoking the emotion of like and trust by engaging with the prospects in some form or the other. Show them that you truly care about them and not just that you want to sell them something.
This is selling psychology. To be effective in selling, you need to understand customer/human psychology; that is, how people behave and think.
The simple way to convert these people to leads is to give them something valuable. It’s called a lead magnet.
It could be a piece of valuable information that solves a specific problem packaged as an article, an e-book or short report, audio, a video, a webinar, a free class, etc.
It could be a free consultancy session or a free trial of one of your products.
This short report you’re reading right now is a form of lead magnet. I believe some of you here will do business with me sometime soon.
Just be creative, there’s always something you can give in whatever type of business you are doing, at little or no cost to you.
Now, note that you’re also getting something else in return for your gift – their contact information, like email.
That way, you can keep the conversation going with them, engage with them constantly and raise your trust quotient.
And that’s what happens at the 2nd stage:
Here’s where your leads start considering doing business with you. That happens because they keep receiving messages or emails from you. You are now on their minds and they are beginning to trust you more.
At the interest stage, you warm up the market.
By accepting your gift in stage 1, they have shown that they’re interested in your business. Remember that only a percentage of those that became aware will cross over to this stage. Those who don’t take your gift are cut off at this stage; the funnel is getting narrower.
In today’s fast-paced world, email marketing plays a key role at this stage. Your leads are subscribers to your email list. Email marketing is still hot.
So you put together an email sequence, share stories around your business, help your leads see how your business can help them or solve their problems. You continue engaging with them, nurturing the relationship and offering value. Then you also entice them with your offer, especially a low barrier offer, one they will find hard to refuse.
If you’re not using email marketing, you can tweak this formula in whatever strategy/platform you’re using. If you’re more comfortable with WhatsApp, you could build a sales funnel using that platform.
Here’s another diagram that further highlights what we’ve been talking about (Sales Funnel of JB Media Group).
At this point, they have finally come to the point where they are seriously considering taking up your offer.
Case studies of some of your past works, reviews, and testimonials from satisfied customers can help them make that decision.
This is where you tilt the scale from warm to hot market, where they eventually take the next step.
The sale finally happens here and you have won a customer/client.
Once the first sale happens, it’s easier to get them to buy from you again and again. The hard part is to get them to buy from you the first time, that is, move them from leads to sales.
From that point onwards, you simply need to find more ways to sell to your hot market, either by getting them to buy more often or to take your higher value, premium offer. Then you also need to get more people into your sales funnel and convert more leads to buyers. All of that is called customer value optimization.
In rounding off…
Before I wrap up, understand that you can build an automated sales funnel in your business. That means a sales machine that generates traffic, leads, and sales mostly on autopilot.
To do that you will need the following:
- A website, or at least a landing page
- Targeted ads (Facebook ads, Google ads, etc.)
- Email list
- Email automation platform like Mailchimp, Sendlane, etc.
- A digital consultant/agency that can help you implement all the above in a way that is customized to your business needs and also provide necessary guidance.
Our team at Barastreams will be glad to help you with all of the above. You can start by downloading our free report: profitable sales funnel guide.
Download the free report here.