Every sales funnel looks different: One company might sell services through a lengthy relationship-building effort; another company might sell a product as an impulse item at the cash register of a grocery store. However, all sales funnels share a few things in common.
Below, I’ve listed five of the most important elements you’ll see in every successful sales funnel. And if your sales funnel is struggling, check to make sure that you’ve mastered these elements first.
- Value: Your potential buyers have problems they want solved or needs they want fulfilled and the sales funnel relationship is your way of telling them that you have the solution or fulfillment they’re looking for. But Prospects are only motivated to buy from you when they perceive value. That is, your ability to solve their problem or fulfill their need must actually make it worth their time, effort, energy, and money to listen to your sales pitch and hand over their hard-earned money. I call this the pickaxe factor.
- Target market: No business can be all things to all people so every business must have a well-defined target market. It can be a big target market, and it can even include several different markets, but the target market(s) need to be well-defined. When you know who is most likely to buy from you, you can shape your marketing and sales content to speak to that group in a way that will compel a buying response. (Find out why ‘everyone’ is not your target market).
- Clear next steps: A poor sales funnel haphazardly dumps marketing content in a variety of channels (Facebook, Twitter, a blog, an article directory, etc.) and the business hopes that the sales funnel contact will click around to gather enough information to move forward in the sale funnel. But that’s not how it works. A sales funnel contact has a mindset and that mindset slowly evolves over time. The business’ job in marketing and selling is to speak directly to the contact’s mindset and slowly nudge that mindset to evolve toward full acceptance of what is being offered. (Read a previous blog posts about how mindsets work in a sales funnel and how you use steps to move contacts forward in your sales funnel).
- Opportunity to buy: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Marketing is sexy and fun and difficult to measure. Selling, on the other hand, is challenging and sometimes a grind, and there can be a lot of rejection. Therefore, businesses tend to do too much marketing and too little selling… and then business owners scratch their head and wonder why no one is buying. A good sales funnel includes moments (in the Prospect stage) where the seller asks the Prospect if they would like to buy. (Read a previous blog post about this very topic — how a lack of selling is causing sales funnel failure).
- Profitable sales: Successful sales funnels have a track record of profitable sales. Okay, some of you are reading this and thinking “duh! Isn’t that obvious?” but it may surprise you to learn that it’s not. Businesses use a variety of measurements to define success. Things like: “Do we have a great logo?” or “Is our blog being visited by more than 100 people per day?” etc. Even businesses that do strive for profitable sales don’t always measure profitable sales as much as they measure other things. (I confess, I’ve been guilty of that in the past, and here’s an example of a client whose sales funnel was not focused on profitable sales). But the only thing that should determine whether or not a business is successful is: Does the business have profitable sales? If your business does not have as many profitable sales as you’d like, take a closer look at your sales funnel to determine how you can make more profit from your sales.
Does your sales funnel have all 5 of these elements? If your business is struggling, you might want to think about destroying your sales funnel and starting over again from the ground up to make sure that these 5 elements are there. (Here’s a 3-step process to help you or read about how to retrofit the sales funnel in an existing business).
There are other reasons that a sales funnel might be very successful or not successful at all, but these 5 elements are going to be the 5 biggest factors that you can influence to create watershed change in your sales funnel… and ultimately in your business.