Is this common sales funnel mistake keeping you from making more sales?

When business owners create their own sales funnel, the temptation is to think of each stage as a single event. But this can actually repel people from buying.

Here’s what happens:

Entrepreneurs see the 5 stages of the sales funnel (Audience, Leads, Prospects, Customers, Evangelists) as 5 separate, distinct events. They create one action-step for each stage, expecting contacts at each stage to take just one action to “leap” from one stage to the next.

Let’s say you have a contact at the Audience stage.

You decide that following you on Twitter is the “trigger” that will transition them from an Audience contact into a Lead contact. And you decide that clicking on your sales page is the “trigger” that will turn them from a Lead contact into a Prospect contact.

Most entrepreneurs would make the following action-steps in their sales funnel:

  1. Get your Audience contact to become a Lead by following you on Twitter.
  2. Get your Lead contact to become a Prospect by clicking a link to the sales page (via Twitter).

It seems nice and clean and simple. But this can be too big of a leap for a lot of contacts. They simply won’t take that next action because it’s not an easy, obvious step.

This is a problem. This “one-action-step-per-stage” sales funnel might work some of the time, but more often than not, contacts resist this kind of sales funnel because the steps from one stage to the next stage seem too big and scary for them to take.

It can be too much of a leap for someone to follow you on Twitter and then click on your sales funnel.

Business owners need to see their sales funnels as having 5 stages, but with each stage consisting of several steps or customer actions. Just because there are 5 stages, doesn’t mean there are only going to be 5 steps or actions the contact will take. Each stage can have several steps..

Contacts might be reluctant to take a big leap to the next sales funnel stage but they might be willing to take several very small steps.

Create a series of smaller “baby steps” in each stage of your sales funnel. Let’s use the example above but build it out with baby steps through the Lead stage so the contact doesn’t have to make such a big leap from one stage to the next.

  1. Get your Audience contact to become a Lead by following you on Twitter.
  2. Encourage your Lead contact to retweet you by sharing something relevant specifically to them.
  3. Encourage your Lead contact to reply to you by interacting with them. (Maybe do this more than once!).
  4. Share a link to a relevant blog post or article you’ve written and solicit feedback.
  5. Engage your Lead contact in a Twitter-based conversation.
  6. Share a link to a relevant blog post and invite them to comment on it.
  7. Engage your Lead contact in a Twitter-based conversation.
  8. Share a link to your sales page via Twitter.

See what we did here? We started our new Lead contact with a little engagement. Nothing that required a lot of commitment or even trust. Then we slowly built a relationship. We didn’t ask too much of the contact (although we did ask for a bit of participation — just a little more with each interaction). In a sense, we raised the temperature until the next obvious step was for the contact to click the sales page.

Yes, there are more steps in this example than in the previous one, and yes, this method does require some additional work on your part. But here’s why its an advantage: You’re not asking your contact to leap from one stage to the next. Rather, you are helping them take baby steps by engaging them, and building credibility and trust. By the time they get to the sales page link step, it’s just a small step for them to take.

Now, I’ve just used the Lead stage contact as an example, but this is true of any stage in your sales funnel: Rather than requiring your contacts to make the leap from one stage to another, break that stage up into smaller steps to help your contact through your sales funnel. If your steps are well-planned and intuitive, you’ll find that more contacts will move through your sales funnel faster even though it looks like there is more for them to do at each stage.

Published by Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and other books.

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