3 tips to turn a bloated sales funnel into a lean, mean sales funnel

When you start a business from scratch and build your sales funnel before you let the first customer walk through the door, you have an advantage: You can create a lean and profitable sales funnel that is easy to run. But not all of my readers are aspiring entrepreneurs who are planning to start a business. Many of you run existing businesses with an existing sales funnel.

After a few months — or years — of being in business, a once simple sales funnel can quickly become bloated. Goals become foggy; steps become unclear; content ends up pointing to the wrong places; your messages become muddled; your metrics don’t tell you the full picture.

Your sales funnel no longer has the attractive quality of a well-kept lawn. Instead, it resembles the lawn of the crazy lady up the street who doesn’t know what “lawn mower” means, and whose thornbushes encroach on the sidewalk.

I speak from experience when I say this! This is exactly the situation that I found my business in when I first started to intentionally focus on my sales funnel: My sales funnel was bloated and unkept. I had too many channels and they were barely manageable. I was doing a half-assed job at marketing my business because I had too much marketing to manage.

If you’ve been running a business for more than a month or two, you’re at risk of the same thing. And when your sales funnel becomes as matted as the crazy lady’s lawn, you end up spending more time marketing but achieving far less effectiveness. That’s a very costly equation.

So what can you do about it? Here are 3 tips to clean up the jungle that your sales funnel has turned into:

Sales funnel clean-up tip #1: Start over with sales funnel design. Rather than trying to do it all in one pass, create a brand new sales funnel… on paper. Design a lean, mean, ideal sales funnel that you would start if you were going to start a business today. In my experience, this trim new sales funnel will be only a third or a quarter (or less) of the effort that your existing sales funnel is. Identify what components are already in use in your existing sales funnel and what new components need to be created. Then create this new sales funnel (by starting the new components and redeploying the existing ones). Yes, you will end up losing the value of some of your existing sales funnel but the end result should be a better sales funnel and a more profitable business. (Later, you can always bring those other elements online… but at your own pace).

Sales funnel clean-up tip #2: Triage your channels. Your existing sales funnel may be overgrown and hard to navigate, but if you look closely, you’ll see that it’s not a single mass. Instead, you’ll have some sales funnel components that are doing a lot of the heavy lifting, some sales funnel components that are providing some benefit, and some sales funnel components that aren’t doing anything at all. If you followed tip #1, it’s likely that some of your “heavy lifting” components are in your new ideal sales funnel. Using this triaged list of sales funnel components, decide what you want to integrate in the near future into your new, lean sales funnel. (Probably more of the heavy lifting components, right?). Then decide what you can put aside for now but consider later as your business becomes more successful. (For example, I have a list of sales funnel components that were once used in my sales funnel but which provided very little value. I think I can derive value from them again in the future, but they’re sitting on my backburner for now and I’ll integrate them later… but right now I’m busy with a ton of work from my lean sales funnel).

Sales funnel clean-up tip #3: Break out the machete and hack away at the deadwood. There are sales funnel components you don’t need. They do nothing but take up your time. They might seem important — maybe because everyone is doing them — but you need to take a cold, hard look at whether they add value to your business now (or will likely ever add value in the future). Compare the likelihood of their value to the workload required to keep that component active. For some companies, that might mean losing your Twitter account (the crowd gasps at the heresy). For other companies, it might mean dropping your cold-calling. For still other companies, it might mean ending your television commercials.

A bloated, unkept sales funnel is very expensive for you to run: It takes up a lot of your time and it is losing you a lot of money (in lost sales). Clean it up, make it a lean sales funnel, and you’ll have an efficient and profitable sales funnel that will operate with much less effort from you.

Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and he's a real estate investor and a copywriter for real estate investors.

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