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.
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.