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.
Sales funnels are a depiction of the journey your target market takes on their way toward buying from you. You need to find the optimal number of steps to for your sales funnel: As few steps as possible so that they move quickly through your sales funnel (to solve their problem in a timely fashion and keeping your funnel profitable for you) but as many steps as necessary so that they move through your sales funnel comfortably (rather than feeling like they are rushed through or asked to make too big of a commitment too soon).
A few years ago, my wife and I moved to the city we currently live in (Winnipeg… Go Jets!). A year or two later, my parents decided to come for a visit and since they had never been to this city before, and they wanted to drive instead of fly, I sent them a map to get here.
They could use the highway to get to Winnipeg easily enough but once they reached the outskirts of city, they needed my map to help them get through. Winnipeg is a confusing city to drive through, having grown up out of a couple dozen little communities, each with their road system. I like to joke that there are no straight roads in Winnipeg. And some roads have 3 or 4 names. I love the quirkiness of it because I live here. But to outsiders, it’s a little daunting.
So in drawing a map for my parents, I had to decide between the straightest route, the fastest route, and the easiest route. Those are not the same things! The straightest route takes them through some very busy (and some pretty sketchy) parts of town. The fastest route is very confusing. The easiest route is also the longest route – along a highway that encircles the city. I made my decision based on what I know of my parents – how they like to drive, plus the fact that by the time they arrived here they would have been driving for six hours already, plus the time that they would likely arrive (the fastest route becomes pretty slow during rush hour).
The process I went through with my parents to draw them a map is the same that you’ll need to do with the people who are going through your sales funnel. In a previous chapter, you set up the number of steps in your sales funnel based on mindsets that you know (or assume) your target market is experiencing. But the actual number of steps and the activities you do in each step, and the actions you ask your target market to perform as they progress through your sales funnel, are all doing to determine the optimal number of steps.
You might find that you need more steps because they have a big mindset evolution and you need a lot of those mini commitments from your target market as they move through your sales funnel. Or you might find that you need fewer steps because the mindset evolution is much faster or there are few mini commitments you ask your target market to make.
So how can you tell how many or how few steps you need? You’re not going to like the answer.
It starts with some gut-level guessing. And it requires some metrics and tracking. And then you need to test. In my experience, few small business owners are willing to do that kind of thing but it’s the only way to help you find the optimal number of steps in your sales funnel.
Start with guessing: You’ll need to start with some guesswork. If you’ve already done some of the work I’ve described in previous chapters then you’ve outlined what you believe to be the mindsets your target market experiences in your sales funnel. That’s all the guesswork you need to do right now.
Now implement your funnel and see what happens.
Use metrics and tracking: Track your target market’s progress through your sales funnel by paying attention to the metrics. If you have a 10 step sales funnel and notice that people are falling off at step six then you can focus in on that step and explore what’s happening:
- Is the mindset you’re addressing in that step too big of a jump for your target market, perhaps requiring too high of a commitment from them? Then you may want to increase the number of steps.
- Or do you have too many steps? Perhaps you need to offer your potential buyers your product or service sooner instead of way down on step 10.
Then test: Try out different permutations and see what happens. In the example I gave above, in which you might have too few steps or too many steps, create more steps and send some of your prospects along that path and create fewer steps and send some of your prospects along that path. (One example of a way to do this is to create more steps but also offer a Buy Now button, in the case of an online purchase). Test your results and see what happens.
You might get some prospects who like having more steps. You might get prospects who like being able to buy now. In some cases, the numbers will be obvious and they’ll tell you what most of your prospects prefer. In other cases, it might not be as clear so you should figure out which path your most profitable customers have taken.
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.