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.
So far, you’ve identified your target market, outlined the sequence of Mindsets they experience as they go on a mental journey (from first realizing they have a problem to buying a solution that problem), developed Activities that will help your target markets advance their Mindsets, and then identified Channels that can be used to perform these activities.
By doing these steps, you have done most of the hard work of developing a sales funnel! At the top of your funnel is the big group of people who could buy from you. And then, with these various steps of Mindsets, Activities, and Channels, you’ve turned your sales funnel into an actionable sequence that you can do.
But there’s one more thing you need to do to complete your sales funnel; one last thing to transform your sales funnel into a profit-generating machine: You have to identify when and how you will accept payment, and when and how you will deliver your product or service.
These are two different elements and they do not necessarily happen in the same step. The financial transaction is something I call a “paygate” because it’s something your buyer has to pass through. The delivery is how your buyer actually takes ownership of the product or service you sell. Both require a combination of sales efforts and infrastructure.
Let’s look at paygates first. Paygates are the points that your buyers pass through in order to hand over the money. Paygates are usually thought of in relationship to the delivery of your product or service.
- Paygates can come at the point of conversion, before the delivery of the product or service. For example, a service provider might charge a fee when someone commits to hiring them, even though the service might not be delivered for days or weeks to come.
- Paygates can come between the point of conversion and the delivery… all the way up to just moments before delivery. For example, when you go into a store and you pick something off of the shelves, you don’t actually take ownership of it until you first hand over your money.
- Paygates can come after the delivery of the product or service. This is most commonly seen in a B2B environment where one company delivers a product or service to another company and then invoices the customer.
- Paygates can also occur during delivery. However, this one is a little trickier to identify since (often) the payment and delivery happen so close together but one still precedes the other. For example, your cable bill kind of fits into this model because you are receiving an ongoing service from the cable company. However, technically, you are paying for the month of service that was just delivered. (We’re kind of splitting hairs here, though).
There are also combinations of these as well. When you bought your house, perhaps you had to put down a deposit (you went through a paygate prior to purchase) then you put down a down payment (you went through another paygate that is technically prior to purchase but kind of happened at the same time that you took delivery) and then you made mortgage payments over several years (you went through a paygate after delivery).
Each paygate has its own advantages and disadvantages so you need to decide which works best for you; which paygate minimizes risk and maximizes the likelihood that you’ll close deals and get paid.
Now let’s look at delivery. This one is trickier to talk about in detail because your product or service will really define how you delivery; however, I’m mentioning it because it’s an important part of your sales funnel.
How you deliver your product or service to your customer makes a difference in your sales funnel. Different perceptions are built up around the speed of delivery, the relationship between delivery and your paygates, the completeness of your delivery, the professionalism of your delivery, and more (much more!)
In a little while, I’m going to be talking about how each part of your sales funnel is an opportunity to add value and to innovate so that you can out-pace your competitors. Your paygates and your delivery are two areas where you can do this. So even though I can’t go into specific detail about delivery, I need to mention it here to set you up for business-improving innovation later.
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.