Sales Funnel Bible — Chapter 21

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 21. Increase the obviousness of the next step

I recently travelled to another city to attend a conference. I checked into my hotel the day before the conference and when supper time rolled around, I sought out a restaurant to eat at. Like many hotels, the hotel had a handy little booklet in the room that outlined various things (laundry facilities, the room service menu, etc.) as well as advertisements for nearby restaurants.

The restaurant I chose was one that included a little map explaining how easy it was to get to from my hotel and gave me an approximate distance – “a five minute walk!”. Compare this to the other restaurants advertising in the booklet, which just gave an address (but I’d never stayed in this city before). So the choice was obvious. I went to the restaurant that was easiest to get to.

I could have gone to another restaurant, I suppose, especially if I felt like a specific cuisine. But after a day of traveling, I wanted something that was easy to find and would not make me completely lost in an unfamiliar city. The advertisers of this particular restaurant understood that to be the case with hotel guests and they made it dead-simple.

In a previous chapter, I mentioned that one reason why people stop progressing through a sales funnel is because there is too much of a commitment (i.e. time, effort, personal information, etc.) required of them so they get scared off.

Another reason that people don’t progress through a sales funnel is because they aren’t sure what to do next. They might default to inaction or they might just go to a competitor whose next step is clearer and easier to do.
This was the case with the restaurants in the example I gave above. I was hungry and I was tired from traveling all day. I wanted to find good food quickly, without a lot of hassle and I wanted to avoid the risk of getting lost in an unfamiliar city. Of all the restaurants that advertised, I chose the one that gave me the most obvious next step – a map with some simple directions showing how close the restaurant was. The other restaurants didn’t make it as clear or obvious. I would have needed to get a map and figure out if it was walking or driving distance. If it was driving distance, I would need to get my keys and program the address into the GPS or review the map to make sure that I knew the route. Even if those other restaurants were closer and easier to get to, the restaurant I chose was the one that made it clear and obvious and eliminated all guesswork.

Guesswork really is part of the problem. You and I spend all day in our sales funnels so we start to develop “familiarity blindness” that makes us assume our sales funnel is one easy step after another. But that’s not always the case. People need to be taken by the hand and shown the way and told what to do next.

I don’t say that to be disrespectful to people. We’re all like that! As business owners, we’re extremely familiar with the steps in our sales funnel. But as consumers, we are busy and distracted and overwhelmed by choice and we have a meeting with the boss next week and the kids are arguing over a toy and we’re trying to remember to pick up bread on the way home from the gym but frankly we’re amazed that we even made it to the gym this week and what the hell is happening with our retirement funds and where did I put my car keys and what should I do about my parents’ ailing health? Not surprisingly, our lives as consumers are so busy and scattered with a million urgent priorities that we can miss the next step in a sales funnel if it’s not made painfully obvious.

Business owners who want more people moving forward through their sales funnel need to make the next step painfully obvious. If you want the people in your sales funnel to do something, you need to make that step easy and clear, and then hammer it home again and again.

If you want someone clicking a link on your ad, make it clear that they need to click the link. Words like “Click here” or an arrow or a highlighted link or a different font color or repetition – all of these are useful ways (in an online part of your sales funnel) to get people to click a link.

If you want someone to call you based on a direct mail sales letter you’ve sent out, make the phone number clear and large and toll free and in a different color at the bottom of the sales letter.

If you want someone to visit your store, draw a map and explain how easy it is to get there and give people landmarks and distances and directions, assure them that you have ample parking and that you’re close to a stop on the route 12 bus.

If you want someone to respond to your proposal, give them three ways to get in touch with you and an incentive to do it, and outline exactly what you’ll do as soon as they respond.

These are just examples and they will differ for your business, depending on the steps and activities and channels in your sales funnel.

Your goal here is to make each step as clear as possible. Remember how I’ve said that your sales funnel is like a journey that your target market goes on? If they’ve never bought from you before then the journey is shrouded in the unknown. That’s okay (you don’t want to overwhelm them by showing them everything all at once). But you can help them move forward by illuminating where they need to go next.

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.

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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