Sales funnels are the most important part of your business. Get an early glimpse into how they can help your business by reading this early draft excerpted from my Sales Funnel Bible book.
In the last chapter you read about the importance of identifying a specific target market. When business owners carefully identify a specific target market and they clearly define who that target market in detail, they’ve made an excellent first step that will help them to market and sell more effectively.
And if they use that information to build their marketing material and sales efforts, they are headed in the right direction. However, they are missing a step in between identifying target market and using that information in their marketing.
This missing step can diminish the effectiveness of their marketing and even steal some of the potential profitability of the company’s products or services! Conversely, taking time to think about this step instead of overlooking it can transform the effectiveness of the business’ marketing and really brings together the sales funnel so that it runs like a high-performance engine.
After you’ve identified who your target market is and you’ve clearly defined them in detail, you want to next think about the mindsets of the target market. (Only after you’ve done that should you start working on your marketing content and sales efforts!)
Mindsets are key but they are frequently overlooked by marketers. When I say “mindset” I mean the attitudes and opinions and feelings and thoughts that the target market has about their problem or need, and how that problem or need can be solved by your company’s product or service.
Consider what is unconsciously going through every customers’ minds just moments before they buy. At the point of sale, the prospective buyer is basically thinking, “I have an acute problem that needs to be solved urgently. This company has the product that can solve my problem so I’m willing to hand over my hard-earned money right now because the value I derive by solving the problem with this company’s product is far greater than the work I put into earning that money.” Obviously this is very generalized but you can see how it can be customized to every buyer, every buying situation, and every product or service – whether we’re talking about a hungry customer buying a burger or a large corporation buying a multimillion dollar piece of software.
The above statement that the prospective buyer unconsciously makes just moments before the sale is a mindset – it’s a combination of attitudes and opinions and feelings and thoughts about their problem and your product or service. That mindset gives them “permission” to move forward with the purchase.
But here’s the important thing to realize: People don’t start out with that mindset. They get there over time and through interactions with your company (and other factors as well, depending on the product or service). Their mindset evolves to that point but certainly doesn’t start there; mindsets change over time. Your customers today may not have heard of you yesterday and maybe didn’t even know they had a problem or need that had to be resolved.
Think back to the last time you stopped at your favorite fast food restaurant for lunch. It’s unlikely that you were thinking about that restaurant from the moment you woke up in the morning. When you got out of bed, you were thinking of other things – getting the kids to school; your busy day at work, including a major presentation in front of the boss; bringing the car in for an oil change; what you were going to take out of the freezer for supper; etc. You probably weren’t thinking about lunch and the specific restaurant you’d eat at when you first got out of bed. In fact, you might not have thought of them all morning when you were at work. But as lunch time rolled around and you started to get hungry, your thinking changed – your mindset changed. You went from having no problem at all to realizing that you had a problem/need (your hunger). Then you realized that in the busyness of your morning when you were getting the kids off to school, you forgot to grab something for your lunch. Then you thought about what was convenient nearby to where you work. Maybe you looked around for a coupon or asked a coworker for a recommendation, while also weighing your personal budget on lunch and what you felt like eating.
Your choices narrowed with each element of the decision – and at the same time, your mindset changed. You started out not thinking about lunch. But then your mindset started shifting. First hunger. Then the realization that you didn’t have anything to eat. Then you sought out a solution, weighing different factors like convenience and price and recommendations and preferences. Finally, you settled on a nearby burger joint and as you walked up to the counter and dug into your wallet or purse for your money, you unconsciously thought: “I have an acute problem that needs to be solved urgently. This company has the product that can solve my problem so I’m willing to hand over my hard-earned money right now because the value I derive by solving the problem with this company’s product is far greater than the work I put into earning that money.”
Over the course of the day, your mindset changed – you started off your day by not even thinking about the restaurant. But at lunch time, you were at their counter ordering a supersized burger and large fries and handing over your hard-earned money.
If we could take pictures of your thinking along the way, we’d have a series of evolving mindsets. And if we could take pictures of the thinking of your business’ customers, you’d find the same thing. Their mindsets shift.
Here’s why mindsets matter: Too often, businesses spend their time trying to convince people to become buyers. They expend a lot of effort trying to get their target market to make a major mindset leap – from not even realizing they have a problem to suddenly making a purchase. What they are doing is trying to convince people who don’t even realize they are hungry to step up to the counter to buy.
Instead, smart marketers should create marketing and sales content that helps people’s mindsets evolve. Instead of forcing them to take a leap, marketing should help prospective customers move forward as their thinking changes. To use the restaurant example, smart marketers should convince people first that they are hungry. Then remind them that they don’t have their lunch. Then offer a coupon and point out the convenience of their nearby location.
See the difference? One is a forced major leap. The other is a small, natural, and very organic evolution. One comes wrapped up in a lot of fear and resistance; the other is easy and the direction that the customer’s thinking is taking anyway.
What does that mean for your business? It means that once you’ve identified your target market, the next thing you need to do is figure out their mindsets. Start with “I don’t have a problem” and end with “I have an acute problem that needs to be solved urgently. This company has the product that can solve my problem so I’m willing to hand over my hard-earned money right now because the value I derive by solving the problem with this company’s product is far greater than the work I put into earning that money.”
And in between those is a sequence of mindsets (the number of mindsets varies by the problem and the solution and the marketplace) – each one is a mindset that your prospective buyer thinks. And when they have that particular mindset, it gives them permission to move forward in your sales funnel.
This chapter is excerpted from an early draft of my book. Comments and constructive criticisms are welcome. Please be aware that the chapter content and chapter order may change by publication.