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"Sales Funnel" has become just a buzz word

Posted by simon on Mon, Jan 25 2021 10:42:05

The term "Sales Funnel" has become just another buzz word over the last few years. If you have been even the slightest bit interested in this search term on Google or any of the social media platforms, you will have undoubtedly seen adverts by marketing companies offering their services to help you build sales funnels. And, they are using this exact process to get you to sign up for their services.

But, before you fall into their sales trap and pay any money, you should at least understand what it is they are doing, and how it works.

What is a sales funnel?

In a nutshell, Sales Funnels are a term that has become very popular with digital marketing companies to describe a buying process that companies use to lead customers through when purchasing or enquiring about products and or services. They are also used to generate potential sales leads that you can contact which, in theory, should be more open to you contacting them.

It is important to know some basics before you being. In the past, sales leads used to be classified into a few categories (there are others, but these are the three basic ones):

  1. Cold leads
    Usually people or companies who are not actively looking for you product or service, and you have made an attempt to contact them. This is usually your target market and you are trying to let them know about you, your products and or services. These are generally the hardest to convert into real sales, and may often lead to you annoying them as they never wanted you to contact them in the first place.
  2. Warm leads
    A person or company that is actively looking for your product or service. These types of leads come in many different forms. Perhaps from an advert you have placed, a recommendation or referral from a previous client. These are generally great leads to get as the customer is already open to your services, which is why they contacted you in the first place.
  3. Hot leads
    These are the the best, as it usually involves someone who just wants to buy your product or service and really needs what you have on offer. When you get these leads, its usually just a case of processing the order or sale, with minimal fuss.

One of the principle ideas behind sales funnels is to help filter out the quality of sales leads and build up a database of prospective customers that you can contact with different sales strategies. Using these processes, you can tailor your conversations and communications to the different types of leads that should ultimately result in a high conversion rate.

How you tailor these conversions will help your conversion rate based on some of the following:

Cold leads

  • Probably never knew about you before you contacted them
  • Are the hardest to find and take the greatest amount of effort to convert
  • Your strategy has to be perfect

Warm leads

  • Are most likely to already be looking for your service, or are coming from a personal recommendation
  • Might take a few attempts to convert them into a sale, but should be significantly easier than a cold sale
  • Your strategy needs to be tailored to that specific lead and not the general category

Hot Leads

  • Just want your product or service right now as it’s exactly what they are looking for
  • Usually converts to a sale with minimal or no effort
  • No strategy is required as they have come to you and just want what you have

There is no guarantee that any cold, warm or hot lead will convert to a sale, but tailoring your approach to these different types will certainly increase your chances. This is where a well defined and effective sales funnel comes in handy. To get your head round how to do this, we will create a basic example of how this works and and which point a lead becomes cold warm or hot.

As most people now are directing all their efforts to online marketing, and social media ads, we will use this as a format for how to build a sales funnel using digital platforms such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads.

Before we continue, our first recommendation:

If you have a paid add that points to your home page, switch it off and get working on at least this basic form of sales funnel to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your online advertising. We will expand on this further, but your home page is not the best place to send leads who have clicked on a paid advert. They should click through to a dedicated landing page that supports your advert.

So, moving on to the basic format of a Sales Funnel:

We are going to set up 4 basic pages:

Page 1: Landing page where you are going to offer something for free in exchange for some form of contact information, perhaps an email address.

Page 2: A thank you page, that includes what you are trying to sell.

Page 3: A congratulations page that explains how you can help them, perhaps offer a free consultation or a phone call and offer for them to book a sales call.

Page 4: Offer them a time to book a call

Depending on your service or product, page 3 and 4 could be the same page to reduce the steps in the process.

To illustrate this process, we are going to use an accountant who has a website offering a few services. The service in question is going to be related to tax returns.

Page 1

This would be a page offering a PDF that provides some tips and useful information on what to look out for, when certain dates become relevant and how the accountant can help. This PDF is offered in exchange for a name and email address. The idea behind this is that anyone looking for an accountant to help with a tax return, that lands on this page, only has to provide an email address to get some useful information. These acquisitions would be classed as somewhere between cold and warm leads. You will get people at varying degrees of interest, but should at least be somewhat interested in the services on offer.

Page 2

Now we go into specifics of the tax return services, giving precise details of what is on offer. On this page, there should now be the option to include additional information where the visitor to the site is now very interested in making contact with you and wants to actively send through their information and book a call, or speak with you. Include the option of a telephone number field so you can call them. You should also include in this form options to add all the relevant information you are going to need to prepare for the call. These types of leads should be somewhere between warm and hot leads.

Page 3 (and or page 4)

Once the person has submitted their full information on page 2, page 3 should be a congratulations page that outlines how you can help, and offer the option to book time and date for a call. You can either include this option on the same page, which makes page 4 your final thank you page, or, alternatively you can place a book a call now link/button that takes them through to a booking system (which would be page 4) where you present time slots that can be booked. These types of leads are generally going to be hot leads.

Remember earlier when we said if you have some paid adverts that link through to your home page, and that you should turn them off for now if you have them? Consider the above example compared to people visiting your home page. People clicking through to your home page, will come in various guises and will be a combination of cold/warm/hot leads. But from your home page, how can you determine which is which? How do you know which of your sales strategies will work best? Now, by using the example above, from the same click throughs, you will now start to filter people out at different stages and begin a classification processes of the types of leads they are. Now, when you contact them, you can be very specific in your communications, and use different phrases that will work better for each type of lead. In addition, you can now start to build up a list of email addresses that you collected on page 1 that you can contact periodically to offer some services. These should be slightly better than just cold leads.

But, remember through all of this process, you must, must, must remain privacy complaint by ensuring you notify what is going to happen with their data (name and email) before they submit the form, and that you will use it to contact them - and state the nature of the contact (i.e. email, newsletter etc).

If you want to see some of these types of sales funnels in action, and get an idea of how to word things, design pages or what to offer for free, just take a look at all these digital marketing agencies offering to build a sales funnel for you. Go through their process and you will see a sales funnel in action. Analyse what they have written, how they have written the content, are they using a “watch this video” or “download this PDF” in exchange for your email address? Set up a test email address with something like OutLook  to use as a fake email address to see what kind of emails they send you. Without spending any money, but by investing in a little time and research, you can create and build your own sales funnel. This is not a guarantee that your sales funnel will work as you expect it to, remember ‘some’ of these digital agencies are experts at what they do, so they will have more experience in what works and what doesn’t. If this is your first time, be prepared to invest some quality time and you can certainly improve your advertising efficiency before you think of approaching one of these agencies and investing your hard earned money with them. Besides which, if you have some paid adverts that link through to just your home page, one of the first things they will all tell you to do is to switch that off and set up a basic sales funnel, so why not do that first anyway?