What’s a sales funnel?
A sales funnel is a marketing term that describes a potential customer's journey to purchase goods and services. It’s one of the most effective ways to drive leads towards your business, with the end goal that they buy from you.
Essentially, it's turning cold prospects into loyal and long-term customers by funneling them through different stages until they reach the point of sale.
Consequently, grasping how a sales funnel works is vital.
Think about the function of a real-life funnel you find in a kitchen.
It's a pipe with a wide-open top that is narrow at the bottom. You'd pour liquid or powders into the funnel. Hence, they land in a designated container with a small opening. You need this funnel for pouring so that the liquid or powder doesn't land on the floor and make a mess.
A sales funnel is exactly the same. However, the funnel ushers prospective clients instead of guiding liquids and powers through a small opening.
Where’s a sales funnel guiding prospective clients, you ask?
Because that's how you make money.
Now think what would happen if a real-life funnel was cracked on the side. Most of the substance poured through the funnel wouldn't land in the designated container and would find its way on the floor or countertop.
It's the same with a sales funnel, any cracks in the strategy and your prospective clients will jump ship, and the point of sale will not happen.
In fact, 79% of marketing leads are never converted into sales.
That's why you must ensure all sales funnel stages are crack-free. These cracks are where prospective clients slip away into the night instead of landing in the point-of-sale container.
To create a “crackless” sales funnel, you must understand the different stages.
The different stages of a sales funnel
As mentioned, a sales funnel has different stages. It's easy to remember the stages using the acronym AIDA.
This can change depending on the business, but AIDA is the general rule of thumb and, indeed, the funnel model you want to use if you're new to sales funnels.
Let’s dive into each sales funnel stage to break it down further.
Stage 1: Awareness
This is the very top of your sales funnel. The main goal is to improve your brand's visibility to start collecting leads.
You want to ensure you're targeting the right people seeking your products and services. Still, casting a wide net at this stage is okay, as this part of the funnel is all about awareness.
Think of it this way.
What can you do to spark the attention of prospective leads, so they know who you are and what you offer?
It’s building brand awareness.
Avoid unnaturally pushing your product at this point. This will deter people. Earn their trust first.
You want to give prospective leads valuable content that they can benefit from. Share ideas, solutions, and advice. Position your business as the expert.
Content ideas for the awareness phase:
- Leverage social media
- Guest posting
- Online & in-person events
- Paid Adverts
Stage 2: Interest
This is where you put the work in to understand your audience's pain points, problems, and deep desires. You’ve caught their attention, and now it's time to learn more about them and forge a deeper relationship with them.
Your lead is still not ready to purchase from you at this stage, but they’re interested in learning more about your brand and who you are as a business.
For example, a lead may have found you on social media and signed up to your mailing list because they want to gain valuable emails from you. This is your opportunity to start creating this deep, meaningful relationship with them. They want to be there, and they want to learn.
Content ideas for the interest phase:
- High-value social media posts
- Email sequences
- Free trials
- A lead magnet
Be ready to answer any questions that your leads may have. Even though they may not be prepared to buy from you, position yourself as the expert to gain further trust so that your leads know they’ve made the right decision when they are ready.
Stage 3: Desire
You’re getting closer to convincing a lead to purchase from you. By this stage, your lead has been nurtured and understands your brand identity deeper.
You sparked their attention, gained their interest, and now they desire your offerings.
However, they need a bit more convincing that your offerings are right for their budget and expected outcome.
Content ideas for the desire phase:
- Case studies
- Discount codes
- Live demos
- Product comparisons
- Sales pages
- Free trails
- Email marketing
Another solution is getting onto a call with your leads to squash objections to close the sale. This attention will give them the confidence that you’re showing up for them.
Create a group webinar or even one-on-one calls to answer any of their pressing questions.
Set this up by using booking pages to seal the deal and turn leads into paying customers.
Stage 4: Action
It’s all in the word. Action.
This is the funnel stage where your lead decides to purchase from you. Or not.
This is where you convert a lead. Or not.
It’s important to remind your leads of the massive benefits they’ll receive when purchasing from you. Also, the downsides if they don't.
It’s all about convincing. You have the lead's trust now. But can you seal the deal?
Content ideas for the action phase:
- Bonuses and special offers
- Payment system
- Reviews and referrals
- Early bird promotions
- Follow up emails
- A solid call to action
If your lead decides to purchase, they have officially converted into a paying customer.
But how do you keep them loyal and long-term?
Don't ghost them after the sale!!!
The funnel doesn't stop at the action stage where the point of sale is made. Those who decide to buy from you should still get your attention after the sale. Check in with customers to make sure they feel supported. Especially if you have a subscription business model.
Also, those who decided not to buy from you deserve some attention. These are the most straightforward leads to convert at a later stage, as they understand your brand, and they may just need a bit more time.
How to create a sales funnel for your business
Okay, now you know what a sales funnel is and all the stages that go with it.
But, how do you actually create one for your business?
Let’s take a look-see.
1. Assemble a landing page
A landing page is a stand-alone web page. Your leads will land on this page after clicking a digital link in an email, website, social media bio, or advert. This is used in the first stage of the funnel- awareness.
The objective of a landing page is to capture the lead's email address so that you can nurture them through email marketing and move them along the sales funnel. In exchange for their information, you hand them a piece of free yet precious information.
Essentially, your landing page should include the following:
- A persuasive, powerful headline
- A subheading that clarifies the heading.
- Description of the offer.
- Full images or videos.
- CTA button or a form to capture information.
Keep it short and sweet so it's easy for your leads to hand over their information. However, make sure your offer is crystal clear.
2. Hand over the freebie
Remember we spoke about that free piece of precious information you hand over to your lead once they’ve typed in their email address on your landing page?
Yup, once the lead happily hands you their email address, you’re obliged to hold up your side of the bargain. You give them a freebie that is irresistible and full of value.
This freebie should solve a problem your lead is facing but not enough to fully satisfy them. You want your leads to feel that the freebie is valuable but that you offer more and they need more from you.
Here are some freebie ideas:
- A seat to your free webinar
3. Begin nurturing
This is where your leads have moved from the awareness stage to the interest stage. They gave you their email address in exchange for a treasured yet free piece of information.
They are interested!
And what do you have?
Their email address.
This is where you start to nurture your leads using email sequences.
In fact, 77% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months.
Engage with your email list and create emails that offer so much value that your list cannot wait for the following email they get from you.
4. Squash objections
As your leads move to the desire stage of the funnel, they are beginning to decide whether the products and services you offer are really for them.
This is when you offer them a space to ask questions to squash objections. You can also write up case studies about clients you have successfully helped. This, again, can all be done via email marketing.
The action stage is where you’ll either land new clients or find out why leads didn't end up buying from you. Don't be too upset when you get feedback about why leads didn't end up buying your products and services. This is a massive space to learn and improve so that next time they do.
Remember, not everyone is going to purchase your products and services.
Think about it…
You don't always take out your credit card when you walk into a shop.
What's important is that you continue learning to optimize your sales funnel to convert as many leads as possible and discover why leads didn't convert.
Those who purchase:
Focus on product education, engagement, and retention.
Those who walked away before purchase:
Focus on an email sequence to check in on them every now and then.
How to plug the leaks in your sales funnel
When new to understanding your sales funnel, a few leaks will inevitably occur.
What does this mean?
There are a few holes where prospective leads may leave the funnel because of a weakness in the funnel.
For example, you grabbed their attention, and they opted into your landing page, captured their email, and now you’re sending emails directly to their inbox. However, they decide to unsubscribe because your emails are overbearing and invaluable.
Don't worry about the leaks. They help you learn from your mistakes.
Just make sure you start to plug them.
- Measure the funnel leakage by using Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel.
- Determine where the funnel is leaking and change your game plan.
- Understand why the funnel is leaking by asking prospective leads who dropped off.
- Decide on an action to plug the leak.
Keep analyzing your funnel to make it better. This will help you convert more leads into customers.
Sales funnel management
To further increase your lead conversion, it’s good practice to keep managing your sales funnel.
As mentioned above, always have your binoculars handy to find leaks in your funnel.
However, it’s good to manage your sales funnel further.
Sales funnel management is the practice of monitoring, analyzing, and optimizing the sales funnel as needed regularly.
Bear these points in mind.
- Don't throw away the no’s too quickly- A ‘no’ now doesn't mean a ‘no’ later.
- Follow up more- keep nurturing and reminding leads you’re there.
- Follow up fast- when someone says no, find out why sooner than later.
Get an optimized landing page to skyrocket your sales funnel conversions
A landing page is an essential part of the whole sales funnel. Without one, it doesn't make a lot of sense.
If you’re a booking-based business, ensure you have a highly optimized booking landing page that converts more leads into paying and loyal customers.
Try out your 14-day free trial with Book Like A Boss to ensure your sales funnel runs smooth as a cucumber.