The Sales Funnel Explained – and Why You Need one!

Without a Sales Funnel, you are Making hard work out of your Marketing and losing time and money in the process.

I came across a Facebook ad this week. The advertiser was giving away a free guide on how to run a successful Facebook ad. Many of the people who commented on the ad also asked What a Sales Funnel was.

They asked because other people alluded to the fact that a funnel was in use on that particular ad. They obviously knew that the success of a Facebook ad is determined by the funnel used to create it.

While some commenting picked up on this, others haven’t heard of the sales funnel before then.

I must admit that I was a little shocked!

The reality is that you are making a hard job of your marketing if you don’t understand and implement sales or conversion funnels in your digital marketing mix.

In fact, I’ll go further and say that they make up the integral parts of your digital marketing framework.

Therefore it’s not just good enough to learn about them but to also to take some time to create your very own. Otherwise, you are wasting time and money online.

So, what are Sales Funnel?

Also, known as a conversion funnel, it’s the predefined buying process that a business creates to lead a prospect to purchase a product or service.

The issue with many small business owners and entrepreneurs is that they don’t know or think they need one.

The result:

They only announce what they are selling with the hope that someone will buy. This “shotgun” approach to marketing has proven to be short-lived.

In today’s crowded marketplace, it just doesn’t work like that. Regardless of how people like what you do, you may still have to compel them through a series of steps which we will cover below.

So, what do the Sales funnel look like?

The sales funnel have quite a few stages and may vary from business to business. But on many occasions, you have the following phases.

In any case, these cover the foundation for the small business owner.

They are the Awareness, Engagement, Decision and Retention phase.

Technically speaking, the processes takes on the shape of a funnel.

Sales Funnel

Sales Funnel – From www.TheDigitalMarketingPlanner.com

The idea of the funnel shape is that you will only convert a fraction of the people you come into contact with at the awareness phase.

Another important concept behind the funnel is that leads enter at the top and sales exit at the bottom end.

How to Create a Sales Funnel?

There aren’t any short cuts to creating a sales funnel. It’s a matter of sitting down with pen and paper and deciphering through the possible pathways that your prospects are likely to travel to become customers.

The quality of your sales funnels is only as good as the time invested in it.

This quote sums it up nicely: The buyer journey is nothing more than a series of questions that must be answered.” – Analyst Firm IDC

Let’s break down each stage in a little more detail.

Awareness Stage

You will first need to define your target audience or your buyer persona. This process will tell you exactly where to find your clients, and it’s up to you to place your message before them. Remember if you try to reach everyone, you’ll reach no one.

The marketing message at this stage isn’t necessarily for them buy your stuff. It could be a “value first” approach where you exchange a high-quality lead magnet: checklist, a chapter of your book, a free ticket to your event or a 30-minute consultation.

These are called the top of funnel content and usually involves the exchange for your prospects email address.

The Engagement Stage

This process includes the bit where you continue to share high-value information with an attempt to garner the trust of your new prospects. This can usually be done by a regular email newsletter or through social media.

In any case, it becomes easier to build a rapport with people when you demonstrate that you can help them out.

Decision Stage

This process is where you encourage prospects to invest not just their time but their money. This is where you sell the compelling offer that meets the clients’ most pressing need.

Finally, the Retention Stage

This is where you consider how best to convince your new clients to do repeat business with you. If you treat them right, you could even ask for referrals.

Why you need a Sales Funnel?

Regardless of what you sell online or even offline, you need a sales funnel. You may have heard the saying before. People buy from those they like, know, and trust. The pathway in your funnel should serve the purpose to build up the rapport of your brand.

No ones deserve attention online these days. People’s attention span is scarcer than ever. You have to earn attention through a proven system which takes hard work and diligence.

According to Jake Sorofman, when you start with what’s at stake for the buyer, you earn the right to their attention.

Now back to the Facebook ad mentioned above. What did the funnel look like? It was a little something like this:

  • The Facebook ad = the awareness stage
  • The Free download = the engagement stage

(Note: The advertisers’ free offer serves two purposes: to collect some contact information and to leverage the trust she earned when someone exchanged that information)

  • The follow-up sales page was the Decision stage.

(The advertiser reasoned that if she can convince someone to share their contact information, they may be open to spending money.)

The many emails that the advertiser now send out to subscribers are to relive the engagement process that will hopefully lead to the sale of the original offer or further offers.

Next time when you see an offer like the one in the Facebook ad, follow the process through especially if free. It could be a good learning exercise for you.

So, what does your sales pathway look like? Have you put pen to paper to work out how best your prospects will convert? I would love to hear your views below.

Wait… have you seen My Digital Marketing Planner. It’s a must-have business tool for entrepreneurs and business owners who’d like to thrive online!

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Your Digital Marketing Coach!

Digital Marketing Strategist. The author of The Practical Digital Marketing Planner. Top 500 Social Media Influencer by Agilience. I work with small to medium size companies and entrepreneurs to develop a robust Digital Marketing Strategy so they can thrive online.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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