40 ways to optimize your sales funnel to get more sales faster

There are 3 ways that your sales funnel can be better – by getting more people to buy, by getting people to spend more money, and by getting people to move through your funnel faster. In this blog post, I’m going to give you 40 practical ways to make your sales funnel achieve all three of these goals.

THE BASICS
1. Outline your funnel (duh). This should be step one. And if you haven’t done this yet then the other steps are going to seem pretty useless.
2. Customize your funnel: Realize that each business or industry may have similar concepts (leads, prospects, etc.) but they will look very different each time. In the list below, I am using a fairly standard funnel of audience, lead, prospect, customer, evangelist, but don’t feel married to it. (Your lead and prospect step might be essentially the same step).
3. Reduce the number of steps to the smallest number that makes sense. (Don’t make it too complicated!)
4. Review your various product lines and target markets to determine whether a different funnel might be more appropriate. (In my business, for example, some of my contacts are converted from leads to prospects by a proposal while others are turned from leads to prospects by advertising. The timeline and my ultimate deliverable for each market is very different. Thinking about the differences and addressing it with multiple funnels can help you become more successful).

REFINE THE STAGES
5. Figure out what is the minimum amount of information to transform someone from one stage in the funnel to the next.
6. Outline your vision for each stage of the funnel. (i.e. For the prospect stage: “I will build trust by adding value and I’ll overcome objections with some preliminary marketing material so that when I pitch my services, the prospect is eager to buy.”)
7. Set numerical goals for each stage.
8. Identify all the actions that need to be taken in a single stage. There might be one or two actions or there might be dozens, and some will be done by you and others will be done by the contact.
9. Review the actions (see above) and make sure that each action is clear and obvious and easy to take. This applies to actions performed by you and by the contact.
10. Review the actions (see above) and automate as much of your own actions as possible.
11. Look at the “oldest” contact in each stage. If they are an old audience member or customer or evangelist, that’s okay. If they are an old lead or prospect, you might need to revisit their situation. Create a unique offer just for the oldest 10% of your funnel’s leads and prospects. If they don’t buy that, decide whether they are wasting your time and money and perhaps delete them. They might be legitimately taking their time or they might be stringing you along for the free donuts and coffee.

CREATE AND MANAGE FUNNEL CONTENT
12. Create content for each action in each stage: Content for your own actions will often be content that clearly outlines what the next action by the lead/prospect/client needs to be.
13. Remember that audiences are not leads. Create content for audiences and prompt them to become leads.
14. Create a general newsletter (or some other audience-specific content) for anyone who wants to sign up. This will fill the audience portion of your funnel.
15. Create a secondary community – perhaps a newsletter that requires additional information to subscribe to – with the purpose of filtering your audience into leads.
16. Review all marketing and communication channels and pinpoint where they are contributing most to your sales funnel. (i.e. Twitter might add audience members; your blog might add leads; a special report might draw people to skip earlier stages and become prospects).

ELIMINATE BARRIERS
17. Identify technological barriers (i.e. browser compatibility) that might exist and eliminate them.
18. Identify social barriers (i.e. inadvertently alienating a large group of people) that might exist at each stage and eliminate them.
19. Identify buying objections and address them proactively earlier in the funnel.
20. Repeat the above process every quarter to ensure that not barriers will spring up later.
21. Apply metrics to every stage of your funnel (and, if possible, every action of your funnel). Use those metrics to find out where you’re losing the most people and resolve it.
22. When working to improve your funnel, work backwards through the funnel because you’ll enjoy clearer feedback loops; and, small changes at the client/evangelist end will have a noticeable result when you keep more people at the lead/prospect end.
23. Periodically ask a friend or family member to participate in your funnel and watch over their shoulder to see how they interact. Take note of challenges, difficulties, and opportunities for improvement.

CALCULATE FOR PROFICIENCY
24. Calculate your “go-out-of-business date” if you stopped putting people into your funnel right now. Keep revisiting this number. Although you want a fast-flowing sales funnel, you also want one that will keep you in business for a while.
25. Determine the average length of time a person takes at each stage.
26. Determine the average length of time a person takes from lead to customer.
27. Divide your average revenue into the number of people in each stage to determine what each person in that stage is worth to you. If you make $10,000 from 10 customers, that’s $1,000 per customer. But if you have 100 prospects, each prospect is worth $100; and if you have1000 leads, each lead is worth $10; etc.
28. Review your customer attrition rate. If you want to be busier, you need to increase the percentage of audience by a certain factor. For example, if you lose 1 customer out of 10, and you have 1 in ten prospects become customers and 1 in ten leads become prospects and 1 in 10 audience members become leads, then you need to add more than 10,000 people to your audience list just to replace them (and more if you want to be busier)!
29. Determine a trigger in each stage. The trigger tells you that you need to make some adjustments in the future to accommodate the increase or decrease in your contacts. That way, if you suddenly have 25% more people reach a particular stage as a prospect, that will trigger for you the need to ramp up production to accommodate the increase. And if you suddenly have 25% fewer people, that will trigger for you to adjust production accordingly.

SPEED UP YOUR SALES FUNNEL
30. Incentivize people to propel themselves through your funnel. The faster they go, the greater the discount.
31. Offer a guarantee that is equal to or greater than the purchase price.
32. Conduct a survey of all recent clients to find out their greatest challenges and motivators in buying from you.
33. Create a profile that describes the fastest 10% of your customers and create profile that describes the slowest 10% of your customers. Try to identify the differences between the two and eliminate the differences to create an environment that encourages faster flow.

GET CUSTOMERS SPENDING MORE
34. Experiment with price.
35. Outline possible up-sells, add-ons, ancillary products, or product extensions to increase the per-dollar sale.
36. Create a profile that describes the top 10% (in terms of average dollars spent) and create profile that describes the bottom 10%. Try to identify the differences between the two and eliminate the differences to create an environment that encourages higher spending.

INCREASE THE NEW ADDITIONS TO YOUR FUNNEL
37. Create a referral program to get customers adding people into your funnel for you (and often at an advanced stage).
38. Test new options for each stage. Try seminars to create new prospects. Try an opt-in report for new leads.
39. Invest in higher capacity to handle more people in your funnel (i.e. Do you have the potential to send out more newsletters? Do you have the bandwidth available on your website? Do you have the time to offer the services they will eventually buy?)

THE THREE GOALS TOGETHER
40. Compare the results of each sale to the speed, dollar value, and techniques you used to make the sale. Are your slower contacts buying more? Are your faster contacts buying less? This is valuable information for so many reasons!

There are many, many more things you can do but this is a great start!

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