Sales Funnel Bible — Chapter 31

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.

Early draft of Aaron Hoos' book Sales Funnel Bible

Chapter 31: Speed up your sales funnel

You’ve read elsewhere in this book that a sales funnel is like a journey. Your target market is the traveler and the destination is a sale.

One way for your business to make more money is to get more travelers on the journey – that is, to get more people into your funnel. On this theoretical journey, that’s like getting more people to take the journey at the same time. That topic is covered in earlier chapters.

But that’s not the only way. Another way for your business to make more money is to get people to go through the journey faster. To get people from the top of your sales funnel to the sale more quickly than before. By speeding up your sales funnel, you can serve the same amount of people in a shorter period of time.

In a way, speeding up your sales funnel IS getting more people into your funnel (because you can serve more people in the same amount of time you are spending now). However, that increased volume is spread out over time instead of all trying to go through at once, providing you with the ability to increase the number of people going through your sales funnel without needing to increase capacity.

If you want an analogy to illustrate this, consider a plumbing example: To get more water from point A to point B, you have two choices…

  • You can install a larger pipe (which is akin to sending more people through your sales funnel at once)
  • Or, you can do what I am suggesting in this chapter, and simply turn the tap more so that you increase the water pressure and send even more water through in the same amount of time (which is akin to sending people through your sales funnel faster).

Let’s say you have a sales funnel that takes your target 12 weeks from the point when they first enter your sales funnel to the point when they hand over their money, take ownership of your product or service, and officially become customers. Speeding up your sales funnel might mean shaving off a couple of days – or even a couple of weeks – from that time.

This is accomplished by getting people to evolve their mindsets faster so that they move from one step to the next. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Adjust who your target market is, so that the first people you are pouring into your target market are those who are actually farther along in the mindset journey.
  • Decrease the number of mindset steps. Instead of 15 steps, try 14 or 13. This isn’t necessarily as simple as just cutting out a step. It might be but it might also require you to revise the mindsets slightly. You’ll definitely want to test this.
  • Conversely, you might find that you can speed up mindset evolution by increasing the number of steps. Yes, this sounds counter-intuitive but perhaps you can accelerate adoption because each mindset change is much smaller (and therefore easier for your target market to adopt).
  • Incentivize people to accelerate themselves through the sales funnel. For example, you can entice them with a free offer or you can offer a discount if they buy within the next two days or if they prepay. (You don’t have to turn them into a full-fledged customer who receives your product or service. You can instead just get them to the point where they are committed to receiving the product or service in the future).
  • Probably the fastest and easiest and most affordable way to get people moving through your sales funnel is by adjusting your marketing and sales content so that it highlights the pain. As you’ve read in a previous chapter, people will go faster through your sales funnel if they perceive their problem or need (and the resulting “pain” they feel) as being costly and urgent. The more costly you make it for them to live with the pain, and the more urgency you build into your content, the faster they will move.

The key to success in getting people to move through your sales funnel faster is to help them choose to move faster instead of rushing them. If you rush your target market to buy from you, you’ll actually drive them away because they will not have fully embraced each step of their mindset evolution. However, you can help them to choose to move faster through your sales funnel with some of the ideas I’ve described above.

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.

Sales Funnel Bible — Chapter 30

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.

Early draft of Aaron Hoos' book Sales Funnel Bible

Chapter 30: How to use your sales funnel to make more money per sale

When your sales funnel is running smoothly, your target market pours into the top of your funnel and they flow through predictably so that the same number of people spend the same amount of money on a regular basis, and you earn a consistent revenue and profit. That’s what happens if you start up your sales funnel, get it running profitably, and then never change it. Like an engine with an unlimited source of fuel, your sales funnel “engine” should run indefinitely (until something changes or breaks).

It’s okay to build a “set-it-and-forget-it” sales funnel, but why would you want to do that if you could make more revenue (and more profit) with a few improvements? In a previous chapter, you read that there are three ways to grow your business using your sales funnel:

  • You can increase the number of people going through your sales funnel at one time
  • You can increase the speed that people go through your sales funnel
  • You can increase the amount of money that each person spends in your sales funnel

Increasing the amount of money that each person spends is a key way to grow your business. It’s a good way to grow your business because you’re bringing in extra money per person without making a lot of increases to your marketing (and without straining the capacity of your sales funnel to pump even more people through). Increasing the “customer spend” increases the amount of money you make per sale, it reduces your cost-per-sale, it makes you more profitable, and you can increase your revenue with a much smaller effort than simply dumping more people into the top of your sales funnel. It just makes sense to try and sell more per person.

So, how can you do that? Obviously it depends on who your customers are and what industry you’re in but I’ve gathered a few ways to increase customer spending.

  • You should test a higher price point – both in your regular sales funnel and with a segment of higher-end clients. (Even if you can’t raise your price for everyone, you might be able to at least raise your price for your luxury clients with the addition of some higher-value solutions and branding).
  • You can offer up-sells and ancillary sales at the sale (or shortly after). This was covered in a previous chapter. In my experience, this is one of the fastest and easiest ways to make more money per person from your sales funnel.
  • You can follow-up with customers and get them to buy more later – thus increasing customer spend over time, instead of all at once. This was covered in a previous chapter.
  • Depending on your product, you might offer bulk discounts for larger volume purchases. This might reduce your price-per-product but it will increase your price-per-sale.
  • Another way to get people to spend more money in your sales funnel is to offer financing, where you finance the buyer over a period of time (charging more as a type of interest).

You’ll want to be careful to avoid the “bait and switch” situation that can happen in less scrupulous sales funnels. In those cases, a lower-priced product is offered but, at the point of sale, a higher-priced one is sold and charged. That’s not what I’m suggesting.

Rather, businesses can and should offer a range of products or services that meet the budget of different segments of their target market – so a lower-priced product might be sold to a budget-conscious customer and a higher-priced product might be sold to a luxury customer. The key here is not to bait and switch but rather to present the solutions you sell and help the customer pick the best one for them.

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.

Sales Funnel Bible — Chapter 29

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.

Early draft of Aaron Hoos' book Sales Funnel Bible

Chapter 29: Developing evangelists in your sales funnel

In a previous chapter, you read about the importance of extending your sales funnel. It’s a way to earn more money from the same customers – thus increasing revenue while lowering your cost-per-sale. You also read several different ways to develop products that can help you sell more.

There’s another way to improve your sales funnel performance and that is with evangelists. The word evangelist comes from the Greek and it means “a messenger of good news”. It’s a word used by religious communities to describe people who spread a religious message. But the principle is the same in business: An evangelist is someone who shares the good news of your business – who helps to promote your business through positive word-of-mouth marketing.

Word of mouth marketing is well-known to be one of the best marketing methods because it accelerates people through your sales funnel – they either move through each stage faster or they skip steps. In a way, your evangelists put people into your funnel who are more likely going to buy from you, and to buy from you sooner.

So developing evangelists helps to put more people through your sales funnel, faster, and more profitably.
Unfortunately, many businesses have evangelists already (anyone who talks positively about your business is an evangelist) but only a few businesses are intentional about developing and managing their evangelists. Smart businesses who want to grow their sales funnel – and their profitability – will implement an evangelist-generation program.

The best time to find evangelists that you can develop is from among your customers – the people who have resolved their problem or need with your solution. These people understand first hand exactly what you offer and how you benefit them, and they should be harnessed through an evangelist program to help promote your business.

I’d like to clarify my last paragraph: I think the best people to become evangelists are your customers. However, you might get other people acting as evangelists as well. For example, you might have people in your sales funnel who have not yet bought from you who still recommend you to others. Or, you might have family, friends, employees, colleagues, etc., who are also evangelists for your business. These are all good groups of people to evangelize for you and I recommend you help them become evangelists if they want to be. But in my opinion, the very best people to be your evangelists are your customers – they are living, breathing testimonials to the success of your solution – and you should create a program first and foremost to help them become evangelists. Once this program is up and running, you may choose to implement other evangelist programs in your sales funnel but that should not be your primary aim.

To implement an evangelist program in your business, you need to educate your customers about the importance of evangelizing, and then you need to empower them. These are two different but essential components and both need to be in place for a successful program.

Education: To educate your customers to become evangelists, you need to help them understand the importance of evangelizing. Most businesses take the business-centered approach to evangelism and say “I’d really appreciate it if you could refer my business to your family and friends.” There’s nothing wrong with this approach but a more effective approach that actually connects with customers is to help them understand that other people they know are facing the same challenges they are, and they can help those other people by sharing the discover that they’ve made. We all love being the person who recommended the great store or movie or restaurant, and we feel a sense of pride when our friends found the same solution to their problem or need that we’ve also found. So pass that along to your customers. Remind them that they know other people who share their challenges and they can help those people resolve those challenges.

Another aspect of education is to highlight who and when the evangelist might share the message with.

  • Who: “Family and friends” is a convenient and popular phrase for businesses who are trying to encourage evangelism but that group of people might not be the target market. It’s better to look at the target market and figure out who else your customer knows in that target market and what the relationship might be – friends, colleagues, peers. But the more specific you can be, the better: “Colleagues at work” or “other parents at your kid’s soccer league”.
  • When: This is an area where businesses fall short because they don’t help their customers understand when to share. Many businesses just leave it up to their customers to share whenever the mood strikes, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that customers rarely share about the people they’ve bought from. Creating the “when” helps to plant in your customers’ minds when they can share about your business. No customer is going to blurt out to their friends, “hey, you should go talk to my financial advisor”. But if one of their friends says, “I’m getting terrible returns from my financial advisor,” then that’s a good time for your customer to become an evangelist for your financial advisory business. So implant that suggestion in their minds by saying something like, “you’ve enjoyed good returns from my financial advice even though the market has struggled. So the next time your friends are complaining about the returns they’re getting, would you give them my name?” That’s the “when”.

Empowerment: Along with education, you need to empower your customers to become evangelists. Customers are more likely going to evangelize if they are empowered to do so. Empowerment comes in several forms:

  • Give your customer the words and phrases they might want to use when they meet someone with a problem that you solve.
  • Give your customer your business cards or coupons to hand out.
  • Create “sharable” content – reports, infographics, or a bare-bones version of your product that your customer can give out to others.
  • Incentivize your customer by offering them some kind of kick-back if their referrals buy from you. (There might be laws in your industry that govern the use of incentives so be sure to check those laws and comply with them).
  • Hold exclusive, invitation-only events and give your customers three invitations – one for them and two for friends.

An evangelism program should be a key part of your sales funnel. Start with your previous customers and educate and empower them to share the good message of your business with people who you can help.

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.

Sales Funnel Bible — Chapter 28

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.

Early draft of Aaron Hoos' book Sales Funnel Bible

Chapter 28: Extending your sales funnel

The primary goal of a business is to sell something at a profit. Throughout this book, I’ve described how your sales funnel helps to contribute to that goal – perhaps by making your marketing and sales efforts more effective at a lower cost per sale. Another way you can help to achieve that goal is by extending your sales funnel past the point of sale.

Many businesses think of their sales funnel as starting at the top where all of the target market pours in, and then narrows down to the point of the sale – when one person decides to hand over their money for the solution you sell. When that happens, every new person pouring into your business’ sales funnel costs roughly the same, and requires roughly the same amount of effort, to take them on the journey toward a sale.

But if you extend your sales funnel a little further – beyond the point of the first sale – you’ll make even more money and you’ll lower the average cost-per-sale.

You can extend your sales funnel through follow-up sales. That is, you can sell more to the same customer. This makes sense; after all, they’ve just gone through your sales funnel and you’ve already done quite a bit of the hard work of convincing them to buy from you. By extending your sales funnel further, you are getting them to buy from you again (and again and again and again) without running through your full sales funnel right from the beginning.

Follow-up sales can happen in a few different ways. Choose from this list below and mix-and-match to what works in your business.

  • Replacement products or services: If you sell a solution that expires or deteriorates or has a shelf life then you can sell your product or service again to the same customer. This is a great way to help ensure a longer business lifespan and repeat sales, although not all businesses sell products with a shelf life. If your product or service solves your customer’s problem or need permanently then there are other things you’ll need to do instead if you want to extend your sales funnel…
  • Larger or smaller options: Develop products or services that are larger or smaller than your primary solution. The larger product or service may appeal to a customer with a greater perceived need or a desire for luxury. The smaller option will appeal more budget-minded customers. A great example is found in the automotive industry where car buyers are offered a range of cars from economy to standard to full-size to luxury. (Note: These products aren’t necessarily sold after your initial product or service. It’s likely that they will be sold as an alternate to the product or service you intend to sell. However, offering a choice between different sizes can still extend your sales funnel because your customer may come back to you and buy a different size if their needs change in the future).
  • Reconfigured products or services (but for different situations): Develop more products or services that are derived from your existing product or service. Consider whether your solution resolved every possible occurrence of the problem or need that your customer faces. Maybe your solution only works in certain circumstances or locations, and you can offer an additional solution for other situations. Take the really simple example of a pair of shoes. You solve a person’s footwear problem with one pair of shoes. But your customers might need footwear for a variety of purposes – at work, formal events, during a workout, and when there’s snow on the ground. Or here’s another example: Perhaps you sell tax software. You might bring a personal tax software program to the market. Then later, to extend your funnel, you might also offer business tax software or non-profit tax software
  • Related products or services: Offer products or services that extend the value of your customer’s initial purchase. This is an excellent way to extend your sales funnel, and this sale can be made right at the point of sale (such as with an up-sell option) or later in your relationship with your customer. Don’t confuse this with the “reconfigured” option above. In this case, you aren’t offering a reconfigured solution; rather you are offering completely different products or services that add value. An example in retail sales would be the extended warranty, which offers greater value and peace of mind to customers.

Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to develop new products or services yourself. You can if you want but a good way to quickly extend your sales funnel is to partner with others who might be able to help you, perhaps with an affiliate program.

Having additional products or services to offer your customers after the initial sale is just the first step of extending your sales funnel. Implicit in the follow-up sale is the necessity that your first product or service was of good quality to fulfill the promises you made during the sale funnel and meet the needs that the person was buying it for, and that you also developed a rapport with the customer and delivered your solution with a level of customer service that made you seem easy to work with.

A relationship is key. If you sell once to your customer and then never reach out to them again, they may come back to you when they need your solution again, but they might go to a competitor or find some other alternate solution, or they might feel like they need to start in your sales funnel right from the very beginning. With all due respect to my friends in the real estate industry, this is a huge problem there. Many real estate agents help a customer buy or sell a home but barely keep in contact… and then those agents wonder why the person didn’t call them back when they were ready to move again.

You can extend your sales funnel by building a relationship with your customers. Stay in touch with them through a newsletter or occasional emails or phone calls (depending on what is appropriate for your customer and what helps you to remain profitable). Add value in your relationship and remind your customer how important they are to you.

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.

Sales Funnel Bible — Chapter 27

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.

Early draft of Aaron Hoos' book Sales Funnel Bible

Chapter 27: Reduce objections early

This is one of my favorite topics and it’s one of the easiest things that you can do as a business owner to immediately have an impact in your business. In fact, you’ll see an increase in sales in your business even if this is the only thing you implement from your entire book.

As I’ve mentioned in previous chapters, most people enter your sales funnel when they first become aware of a problem or need they have. In fact, they might not even perceive it to be a big problem at all and they might not be looking for a solution just yet. Over time, as they interact with you, they start to understand the importance of the problem, and then the “cost” (or impact) of their problem in their life, and then the opportunity to solve the problem, and then the reasons why you are the best business to provide a solution. Eventually you want them thinking “I have an acute problem that needs to be solved urgently. This company has the product that can solve my problem so I’m willing to hand over my hard-earned money right now because the value I derive by solving the problem with this company’s product is far greater than the work I put into earning that money.”

Eventually you want them thinking that but it’s not always an easy or fast journey to get them to that mindset. The evolution of their mindsets can take time and it’s not a frictionless slide down your sales funnel. There is resistance. There’s conflicting emotions and desires and attitudes. There’s a battle waging in your prospective customer’s mind all along your sales funnel. They might resist thinking that they even have a problem or need! They might look around at all the solutions out there and think that the options to resolve their problem or need are infinite. They might resist handing over their personal information to you so you can market to them. (I’ve written a whole chapter on that). And they will almost definitely resist handing over their hard-earned money to you.
This happens in almost every single sales funnel – for almost every single product and for almost every single prospective buyer.

Now some of you might disagree with what I’ve just written. You might say: “If someone wants a burger at McDonalds then they are going to run out to McDonalds to get a burger. There is very little hesitation. Why are people eager in those situations to hand over their money with little hesitation and seemingly no objection at all?” However, I would point out that, chances are, that burger-buyer has already been a customer of McDonalds in the past. As a previous customer, they have already gone through McDonalds’ sales funnel so it takes much less encouragement when they are ready to buy again. And even if the burger-buyer wasn’t a previous customer, they have been part of McDonalds’ sales funnel for a long, long time, so running over to their restaurant for a burger is sort of the last step in a long-ish sales funnel.

So, most sales funnels (I would even be willing to say ALL sales funnels) will encounter some resistance from the prospective buyer. That resistance will come out as objections.

We often think of objections as reasons that people give for not making a purchase, and that is a frequent definition of objections. However, I think that’s only part of it. Objections aren’t just reasons for not buying; they are reasons that people have for not moving forward in the sales funnel. The purchase is a big part of the resistance but sometimes people also resist discovering the cost of their problem or they resist the work involved in finding a solution.

Have you ever delayed investigating an important purchase because it was too time-consuming or depressing to think about? I’ve been that way with buying health and dental insurance! I’m in reasonably good health and not really interested in thinking about all the bad things that might happen to me so I wasn’t the fastest at getting insurance. When I did finally start the process of applying for insurance, I was pretty slow at filling everything out. It wasn’t the purchase itself I was afraid of; it was the somewhat depressing thoughts about what could happen in my life that made me move through the process at a painfully slow pace.

Fortunately, if you can do something about it. You can use your sales funnel to zap objections before they kill the sale. Do this by writing down all of the objections that your prospective customers have. The more often they’re mentioned and the more often they kill the sale, the more important they are. (You’ll have to do some guessing if you are just starting your business but pay attention to all objections and write them down once you start running your business!)

Once you have a big list of objections (the bigger the better) then create objection-killing answers that address each objection.

Got that big list of objections and answers? Now embed those objections and answers into your content at each step of your sales funnel. The most important objections and answers should be woven into your content throughout several of the steps, repeatedly addressing the top concerns your prospective buyers have. Some of the less important objections and answers need only be mentioned once or twice, prior to the step where they are asked.

You should also gather your objections and answers together and create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page on your website or a print brochure (or whatever your prospective customers would be most likely to read).

And update it frequently! Collect objections obsessively and make sure they are always addressed in your marketing and sales activities. It won’t eliminate the objections you are asked but it will reduce them and it will increase the percentage of people who move through 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.