Weekly Sales Funnel Challenge: Wrap-up

This week, I challenged you to give some thought to follow-up sales to your Customers and Evangelists. They are often overlooked in sales funnels as a source of revenue, but they are far easier to sell to and that makes them more profitable.

So did you find something to sell to them?

I always try to do the challenge with my readers and this week is no different: I did think of some additional sales to make to Customers and Evangelists and I started working on it! It will take a few months to produce (since I’m heavily committed with client work right now) but be sure to watch for it!

What Hollywood can teach you about creating a successful sales funnel

I’m looking forward to two movies this summer — The Hangover Part II and Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides. (Feel free to draw your own conclusions about me based on that confession). Although I PVR everything and tend to fast forward through the commercials, I’ll usually stop fast forwarding and play previews for these movies.

These two movies (and movies like them), my wife and I call them “theater movies” because we’ll happily go and pay to watch them in the theater (as opposed to “renters” that we’ll watch on Netflix).

Hollywood, of course, wants lots of theater-goers and so, as summer approaches, we are all being drawn in to Hollywood’s sales funnels.

Yes, Hollywood has sales funnels. Every business has a sales funnel and the studios that make movies each have their own sales funnels.

This “Hollywood sales funnel” works well (hey, many of them make a ton of money) and it can teach business owners a thing or two about how to create a successful sales funnel.

THE HOLLYWOOD SALES FUNNEL

The Hollywood sales funnel goes something like this:

The Audience stage: You and I are sitting there, on the couch, eating Doritos and watching the latest episode of The Chicago Code or Grey’s Anatomy. We’re drawn into the story. Clearly, we want to be entertained (or, at the very least, we have nothing better to do), which makes us the perfect candidate for… commercials! Including a movie trailer.

A movie trailer is a teaser. A movie trailer tends to follow a classic format and its ultimate purpose is to capture our attention and make us want more! It’s meant to win over audiences that aren’t paying attention or even thinking about the summer right now. It’s meant to force us to ask questions and wonder how the hero/heroine got themselves into this predicament and how they’ll get out of it.

What’s noticeable is that it isn’t meant to tell the whole story. Only just enough to capture our interest. For people who don’t like movies about hangovers or pirates, then trailers for The Hangover Part II and Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides aren’t going to capture their attention. But for people who can relate (because they’ve had hangovers) or for people who aspire (to be pirates or at least to a life of vicarious adventure), these trailers will capture their attention. (Note: Just in case it’s not obvious, this is the case for every trailer. People might relate to an underdog and want to watch a movie where an unlikely hero is drawn into threatening circumstances; or people might aspire to true love and want to watch a movie where a boy meets a girl then loses the girl then woos her and they live happily ever after).

Movie trailers act as a “sorting mechanism”, enticing Audience members who are likely to become customers while being ignored by those who won’t likely become customers.

The Lead stage: We’ve just seen a trailer for a movie that seemed interesting. We pause to think about it. We ask the questions (“how did the hero get in that situation?”). We think ahead to the summer. That’s all that Hollywood wants us to do at this stage in the sales funnel. Just think a little further about the movie. Not much, just a bit. We turn to the person sitting on the couch and we say something like “that might be interesting to watch” or “I’d love to see Ian McShane as Blackbeard”.

From time to time, we see branded messages that triggers the same feelings of relation or aspiration: Maybe it’s a billboard of the movie or a newspaper ad that says “in theaters soon” or we see the trailer again or we visit the website or we hear a review or we spot the movie poster. Whatever.

Although the message is very similar to the message presented in the Audience stage, it allows us to go deeper. We see new trailers or we think about the old trailers a little more. We catch nuances we missed the first time. We ask new questions. We’re presented with the message over and over. That message is: “I want to see this movie because [whatever].”

Then…

The Prospect stage:It’s a summer weekend. It’s humid. We’ve worked all week and deserve a break. We’re wondering what to do on a Friday night. One person says “how about dinner and a movie?”

Dinner’s the easy part. Someone suggests a favorite restaurant and no one disagrees. But a movie — you check the listings and, what do you know, YOUR movie is playing! The one you’ve been thinking about. The one that looked really good. It’s settled then.

The Customer stage: You drive to the theater. You buy tickets and popcorn and soda and licorice… and you love the movie.

The Evangelist stage: The movie is awesome. So awesome, in fact, that you want to immediately tell your friends. After all, they love hangovers and pirates just as much as you do, so the thinking is: If you liked it, they will love it. You call, text, blog, tweet, or somehow share your excitement about the movie to your friends and they go to the theater the next week and watch.

And THAT is the Hollywood sales funnel.

WHAT THE HOLLYWOOD SALES FUNNEL CAN TEACH YOU

This sales funnel works. Studios and actors make billions of dollars a year because of this sales funnel. Here’s what your business can learn from the Hollywood sales funnel.

The Audience stage is about finding the right audience — a target market who is in a receptive state — and tease them. Give them something to think about/talk about/question. It could be a headline or a compelling AdWords ad. It could be a strange graphic or a controversial tweet. Something that captures your Audience’s attention and makes them want more.

The Lead stage is about presenting a consistent branded message again and again that helps your Lead go deeper. It’s still enticing them (like the Audience stage did), but it gives some answers and raises more questions. Ultimately, the Lead should be left wondering “this sounds interesting… I want to know more.”

The Prospect stage is about finding the intersection between the contact’s need (“I want to watch that movie” or “I want to warm my food” or “I need a reliable car”) and the opportunity to buy (“It’s Friday and the movie is in the theater!” or “here’s a microwave and it happens to be on sale!” or “with financing, I can buy a red one!”).

That’s when they become a Customer.

The Customer stage is fulfilling on the promise. Some businesses stop there but smart businesses fulfill on the promise made in such a way that the Customer feels they received value and it compels them to move on to…

The Evangelist stage. This is where the Evangelist is so excited about your product or service that they call, text, blog, tweet, or somehow share their excitement about your product or service with their friends… and then those friends buy the same thing.

Hollywood’s movies are great moments of excitement and entertainment and escape. But their sales funnels are based on years of successful strategy and measurement and they work. As you develop your sales funnel, ask yourself this: “If my business were a movie, would this part of my sales funnel entice the sales funnel contact to want to come to the theater and pay to watch?

Weekly Sales Funnel Challenge: Selling to your Customers and Evangelists

The Weekly Sales Funnel Challenge is a week-long challenge for business owners to focus on a specific aspect of their sales funnel for one week. It’s a fun way to keep you focused on one of the most important parts of your business. A new Weekly Sales Funnel Challenge is published every Monday and a wrap-up post is published every Friday.
Weekly Sales Funnel Challenge

Customers and Evangelists are terribly overlooked in a sales funnel. After all, they’ve already bought something so most people don’t even think of them as being IN the sales funnel any more.

But I disagree. Customers have bought from you once. Evangelists are Customers who talk about you to their friends. But they are still in your sales funnel and they are the easiest to sell to (because you’ve already sold to them once).
So, how are you going to sell to them again?

In this week’s challenge, I want you to think of a product or service that your Customers and Evangelists might like. It doesn’t have to be something YOU sell… it might be something for which you have an affiliate account and you just recommend the product or service.

No, I’m not asking you to start selling something more to your Customers and Evangelists this week. However, I think you should take a moment and think about what you can sell to them.

Good luck!

Just read: “How to Hook a Prospect? Check its Job Ads” at WSJ.com

Researching a company before accepting them as clients is an important lesson I wish I knew earlier in my business. Only the past 5 years or so have I really started to investigate a potential Customer first to make sure that they’re the right fit.

Researching businesses for this kind of information isn’t always easy — they’re busy promoting themselves to their Prospects, which means you have to dig deeper to find what your potential Customer is all about.

Mike Michalowicz offers a clever way to do some preliminary research for Prospects. The answer is in the title but you should really read the whole article.

How to Hook a Prospect? Check Its Job Ads – WSJ.com.

After you’ve read the article, take a look at your list of Prospects then go hunting for their job ads. Check out sites like Monster.com and don’t forget about freelance sites, too.

Once you’ve found some info, integrate it into your sales presentations. (Michalowicz tells you how to do that). And you can even go beyond your Prospect list and do the same task for all of the stages in your sales funnel.

The same information in job ads can help you move sales funnel contacts at each stage: Your Audience member job ads can help you refine your message to capture their attention more effectively and turn them into Leads. Your Leads’ job ads can help you position yourself as the solution to their problem or need so you can turn them into Prospects. Your Prospects’ job ads can help you overcome objections and drive home key sales-making points to convert them into Customers. Your Customers’ job ads can help you identify new opportunities to provide service so they can become Evangelists.

Weekly Sales Funnel Challenge: Draw your sales funnel (again)

The Weekly Sales Funnel Challenge is a week-long challenge for business owners to focus on a specific aspect of their sales funnel for one week. It’s a fun way to keep you focused on one of the most important parts of your business. A new Weekly Sales Funnel Challenge is published every Monday and a wrap-up post is published every Friday.
Weekly Sales Funnel Challenge

I’ve had a lot of new readers since I started doing these Weekly Sales Funnel Challenges, so I thought it was time to repeat one of the very first challenges: Draw your sales funnel.

List each stage (Audience, Leads, Prospects, Customers, Evangelists), and outline what your contacts do at each stage and how you communicate with them. It doesn’t have to be perfect. The goal is to write down what you do know and to see what you don’t know… and then build from there.

Even if you’ve already drawn your sales funnel in a previous challenge, I challenge you to do it again. If you’ve been one of the faithful Weekly Sales Funnel Challenge participants, it will be an interesting experiment to go back compare your current sales funnel drawing with your first one. How have you progressed in the months between those drawings?