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.
Throughout this book I have used the analogy that a sales funnel is like a journey. Your target market starts at the beginning of their journey having never heard of you and by the end of the journey, some of those people reach the destination – a sale.
Not everyone will make it to the destination. That’s the nature of a sales funnel: People fall out (sometimes by choice, sometimes by accident). Your job as the business owner is to move the right people forward as quickly and efficiently and profitably as possible and to get rid of the wrong the people.
There are a variety of reasons that people end their journey before buying from you (and we’ll be looking at a number of those reasons throughout this book). One big reason is that there are too many commitments early on.
A sales funnel doesn’t represent one exchange of value (the customer’s money for your product or service) at the end. That’s the ultimate goal but to get them there, smaller commitments are required earlier on: If you own a bricks-and-mortar store, you are asking your target market for the commitment of spending a bit of their time going into the store, and perhaps even taking the risk of talking to a sales person. If a newsletter subscription is part of your sales funnel, you are asking your target market for the commitment of sharing their email address in order to receive emails from you. If you make sales calls, you are asking your target market for the commitment of a few minutes of time to listen to your pitch. If you use web articles in your sales funnel, you are asking your target market for the commitment of their time and attention to read the article.
Remember earlier how you wrote out several steps, each one associated with an evolving mindset that your target market might experience? Each step is a mini transaction – an exchange of value that ultimately leads to a sale.
The best way to move people through your sales funnel – from one mindset to the next, from one step to the next, from one “mini transaction to the next – is to reduce the amount of commitment they need to make each time.
If I’m a business owner and you and I meet for the first time, you might jump out of my sales funnel and run far, far away if I ask you for your name, address, telephone number, email address, and most pressing problems all within the first few minutes of our conversation. I’m asking for a lot of commitments (if you think of each piece of personal information as one commitment) from you in that first step.
Instead, if we meet for the first time, I should just ask your name.
Then the next time we meet, I might ask for your most pressing problems.
Then the next time we meet, I might ask for your email address.
And so on. Each time, I’ll exchange a bit of value – which positions me as an expert and which gives you a reason to share a small piece of information about yourself.
Over time, I’ll have collected everything I need. But to you, the process was far less intrusive.
We see this in retail: When you go to the mall to shop for clothes, you are often greeted by a sales person. The ones who ask “Can I help you find anything today” are asking for far more commitment than the ones who first say “Hi! Welcome to the Pants Hut” and then later ask “How are you doing today?” and then later ask “Can I help you find anything?”
We also see this online: We used to see a lot of sales letters (those long sales letters with lots of highlighting and ALL CAPS). People were expected to visit the site, read the sales letter, and make their purchase – one big commitment. But now, we’re seeing a lot of smaller commitments, such as a sales letter that offers a free e-course which then pitches the product. See the difference? The old model asked for a big commitment up-front. The new model asks for a much smaller commitment and keeps the target market in the sales funnel.
When you reduce the number or severity of commitments you need from your target market in each step, you make it easier for them to share. It can stretch out your sales funnel a little but it also helps to keep people in your funnel. I’d rather have a slightly longer funnel with more people in it than a short and abrasive funnel that drives people to my competition.
So here’s what to do: Figure out the minimum amount of commitment you need to move someone forward in your sales funnel. It might mean adjusting the number of steps you have in your funnel, perhaps increasing the steps a little. It might mean adjusting your understanding of the mindsets and focusing in a little to take a more granular view: For example, a mindset that used to be “wants to learn more information” might now be two mindsets – “wants to learn more information but is skeptical of my expertise” and “wants to learn more information and appreciates my expertise”.
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.