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 previous chapter you read about the importance of investing in your sales funnel and I outlined a suggested order of investment opportunities. Now I’d like to talk about a related topic – innovation.
Innovation in your sales funnel is very similar to investing in your sales funnel. The difference is: I focused a little more in investing assets (mostly money but also time and effort) in the last chapter. In this chapter, the emphasis is on investing in and developing new ideas and opportunities that will enhance your sales funnel.
Too often, entrepreneurs who want to innovate in their business think specifically of innovating a new or improved product or service (or some aspect of their product or service, such as delivery or customer service). But if you broaden your view of innovation and commit to driving innovation into all aspects of your sales funnel, you’ll see a much greater benefit.
A product-only approach to innovation can be costly, with many unworkable attempts ending up in the trash, and some businesses might struggle with how they can innovate a very standard product or service. How can a locksmith or a collision repair shop or a plumber innovate their products and services? It’s not impossible but it is hard and the return for effort may not be worth it.
However, a sales funnel approach to innovation gives you a greater opportunity to invest in innovation across a much bigger playing field, and a greater opportunity to derive a return because you are “investing” in new ideas to drive your sales funnel. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel that your business is selling, you are reinventing how you sell it.
So, what does innovating in your sales funnel actually look like? Innovation in your sales funnel is all about deploying new ideas throughout each of the steps. It’s easier and faster to innovate because you no longer need to think of innovation as reinvigorating an existing product or service. Rather, your innovation might be something as simple as finding a new way to communicate the same message to your audience. Or, developing new tools that you can use to measure the steps in your sales funnel. Or, using new channels in your sales funnel that your competitors aren’t using. Or trying a different paygate or delivery model. Of implementing an evangelist program that is unheard of in your industry.
Some people might argue that the description above is not really innovation. They’re thinking of high-cost product-specific innovation. They’re forgetting that there are other types of innovation besides that.
Apple Inc. is a good example of a company that does both product-specific innovation and sales funnel innovation. We tend to think of Apple’s innovation as being product-specific: They changed the mobile device market with attractive designs and technology, and they continue to release cutting-edge iPhones (and other products) regularly. But that’s only the product-specific innovation. They also innovated throughout their sales funnel: Their famous Super Bowl commercial in 1984 was an innovation. Their target market was an innovation. Those “I’m a Mac; I’m a PC” commercials were an innovation. Their iTunes store was an innovation. All of these things go beyond the product-specific innovation that most people tend to think of. We don’t see them as much because they aren’t as flashy and many of them are behind the scenes. But they were just as important to Apple’s success.
Sales funnel innovation provides a larger field to work in and the innovations you can make in them are faster to discover and deploy.
To innovate in your sales funnel, take a look at your Sales Funnel Strategy Matrix – the one-page list of (mindsets, activities, channels) that makes up your sales funnel. Look at your current messages, methods, and media, and consider how you can try new things (adopted and adapted from other companies or industries) to be even more effective 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.