Setting up your sales funnel for success is massively crucial to your business’s profitability. You might wonder how I get people from just being a website visitor to becoming somebody who’s a paying client. This is a process that my team and I have perfected over the years.
Website visitors are leads. But odds are, not all leads are ready to buy. So the key is to create a sales funnel that allows you to focus on leads who are serious about buying, and nurture them until they’re ready to convert into sales.
I’m going to show you how. Keep reading if you want to know what a sales funnel is, why you need it now, and how to set up your sales funnel for success.
To learn how to attract qualified leads, click here.
What is a Sales Funnel?
Let’s start by defining a sales funnel. Essentially, a marketing or sales funnel is the journey you take prospects through so they know you, like you, and trust you enough to do business with you.
There are three stages of the customer purchasing journey:
- Cold prospect: People who have vaguely shown interest in your business.
- Customer: People who have already decided to buy from you.
- Raving fan: These are your repeat customers. Also known as brand ambassadors, these people rave about your product to anyone who will listen and post about your services on social media. Apple fans spring to mind; they’ll stand in queues for hours to get the latest Apple product.
Now one thing to keep in mind is that not all leads will eventually turn into customers, which is why you need a sales funnel.
Why Do You Need a Sales Funnel?
This is a question I get asked a lot. So my clients will say, why can’t I just invite people to check my website, send a contact form, or whatever, and get leads?
Look, this is not how you successfully approach your target market. Let’s put it this way.
- 3% of your target market is ready to make a decision right now. And this is what all marketers are fighting for. You’ll see Google ads, landing pages, and other sales campaigns targeting them.
- 7% are really interested in buying but they might need a bit of a nudge. For example, they have questions that need to be answered before they’re ready to buy.
- 30% are also interested, but they can’t buy right now. They either don’t have the money now or it’s not the right time.
- 60% of your target market are just not interested at all. They wouldn’t even buy your product if it was free.
So this is why you should build a sales funnel. You want to know how many of your leads are ready to buy, who wants to buy in the future, and those who aren’t interested. Once you figure this out, you can redefine your strategy and focus on leads who will convert to sales.
How to Set Up a Sales Funnel
So now that you’ve got a handful of leads, what’s next? You have to set up your sales funnel. Ideally you want to do this before you start generating leads, but let’s say you’ve got a few already.
And I understand if you find this confusing. There are a lot of sales funnels that you can see online. But I’m not going to make it complicated for you. You can start with these three steps:
Step 1: Qualify
So let’s start with qualifying your leads. This is really important since you want to focus on leads that fit your buyer profile. You’ll want to know which leads to move through your sales funnel.
Here are five ways to qualify a lead.
- Look at your past data. To qualify leads, you need a basis. And this is why you should start digging into your past data. Which leads have historically been the best fit for making sales? Although your target market can change, or you might add more segments, this is a great start. Instead of relying on guesswork, you can take a look at past records and draw something from them. Best of all, you can use your CRM to get this information easily and effectively.
- Know your buyer profile. You have to know them well. So, start with the basics. You can extract demographic data—age, gender, income levels, and so on. These factors/variables can really help define your buyer profile. Aside from past records, you can do your own market research to make sure that your data is up-to-date and relevant.
- Do your own research. So once you get a lead’s contact information, do your own research. Google them. Does this lead match your buyer profile?
- Check for Hopium. Is there real interest or are you chasing hopium? For those of you who have no idea, I talk about this in The 1-Page Marketing Plan. Hopium is that false hope that maybe, this prospect can turn into a buyer soon. And don’t get me wrong, some of us might dream about the same thing, but it can be a waste of time.
Going back to the diagram about the target market, a combined 60% of your leads are either uninterested or wouldn’t even accept your product for free. So think twice. Be realistic. Don’t expect all leads to become customers.
- Ask further qualifying questions. Before prompting your sales team, you can ask a few questions to further qualify the lead. You can shoot an email or schedule a quick preliminary call to learn more about the prospect’s budget, annual revenue, or even the industry they belong to.
Step 2: Follow-up
This is where many businesses come unstuck. They follow-up once or twice and if they don’t get a favorable response, they give up.
I actually built a 12-step lead nurturing model on my 1PMP and this involves emails, calls, or a combination of both. You want to get your leads to give you their contact information so you can follow-up and build relationships.
This is an effective way to build trust and authority with your target market.
And it all starts with your messaging strategy. It’s very important to:
- Educate your prospects as an expert authority in your niche.
- Offer value.
- Understand pain points.
- Deliver the offer.
- Provide a clear call-to-action.
So how often should you follow-up with your prospects?
The best time to start is once they’ve sent you their contact details. And then, reach out everyday or every other day. Don’t overwhelm your prospects with five or six emails a day. Once or twice a week is perfect, and this is something that you can automate using your CRM.
Step 3: Close
We’re now at the final step in a sales funnel. So you’ve built trust. You’ve nurtured them through the buyer’s journey and you’re ready to close a sale.
Closing sales differ depending on what you’re offering and the resources you have. But it all boils down to these two things:
- What is your desired outcome? As you nurture your leads, what’s next? What’s your goal? This has to do with what actions you want your prospects to take. Do you want them to call you? Set up a meeting? Buy your product left in their shopping cart?
- What will inspire them to take action? This specifically indicates your offered product or service that prospects will buy. It can be a special offer, a limited time period, or a product trial.
How is a CRM Used in a Sales Funnel?
Let’s say you’ve followed all of these stages in your sales funnel, and you’re getting 500 leads in a week. I think that it’s impossible to track them one-by-one, figure out which ones are qualified leads, and do everything manually. So don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system can help you with that.
A smart CRM can automatically track your leads and their journey on every step of the buying process. You can also customize it to nurture leads and engage with your prospects until they make a purchase from you.
Think of Tony Stark, Iron Man. Technology doesn’t replace him. It augments his ability. So marketing automation will make things faster and easier. Once you’ve chosen a really great CRM system, you’ve got your evergreen funnel set up. It frees you up to focus on other important matters.
The Top CRM Systems to Use
Ontraport is an all-in-one, integrated platform that includes a powerful CRM system, marketing automation, affiliate management, and advanced business automation suite. This is my preferred CRM, especially if your email list exceeds 10,000 subscribers.
ActiveCampaign is a great place to find hundreds of pre-built automations that combine email marketing, marketing automation, CRM, and machine learning. It ensures powerful segmentation and personalization across social, email, messaging, chat, and text. I’ve used ActiveCampaign and it was great for my smaller list. But once you exceed 5,000 subscribers you might want to look at something else.
If you want to focus more on email marketing, I suggest you use ConvertKit. It’s a marketing automation tool that delivers drip email campaigns and builds easy forms to quickly send them to new subscribers.
PipeDrive is a great CRM tool for businesses wanting to build out different sales processes. It’s intuitive and easy to use. You can also integrate it with other software like Google Apps, MailChimp, and more. My team uses PipeDrive for all communications with clients, and I know they love it.
Clickfunnels is another awesome CRM tool for building sales pages that can drive conversions. No need to start from scratch since you have hundreds of templates to choose from.
Tips for Setting Up a Sales Funnel
1. Avoid setting things up manually.
Most businesses like to do things on their own manually. I get it. You can save a few dollars. But they make the mistake of saying, “Fill out this form,” or “Call our office and give me your credit card details,” or whatever.
In a sales funnel, you don’t want to create confusing situations where people are unsure of what to do next or friction where prospects spend more time than they need to before moving to the next step You can lose sales because of this.
To avoid this, make use of technologies to make everything go as smoothly as possible. For example, you can use Calendly, a personal favorite of mine. It allows you to schedule meetings on-the-go instead of manually confirming a schedule through a call. If you have clients across different time zones this is a lifesaver.
2. Keep the conversion flow simple and seamless.
One of the reasons why I like email replies is it’s very easy for my readers to hit the reply button, and I get something back quickly.
While for others, they send them out to third-party landing pages and forms and all of that. I’m not saying these things are wrong. But, in my view, you’re adding unnecessary friction.
With email, you can skip all of this, hit reply, and say whatever you want. That’s less friction. Your prospects don’t have to leave their email. So it’s a very powerful way of staying in touch with your subscribers.
Remember, conversations lead to conversions. Make it simple, easy, and effortless for your prospects to do business with you.
3. Personalize your responses.
Something that I recently started doing that’s having great results is sending personal video responses to my list. So if you simply say, “Hey, I’m interested in your course, and I’d like to ask a question,” someone from my team will send a personalized Loom video that covers everything you want to know.
It’s a much nicer, more effective way to get back to your prospects—far better than putting up a help desk. While standardized responses can answer someone’s question or concern, it can’t build trust.
So keep it personalized. You can say, alright, let’s have a look. Drive them to your sales page, and tell them why the course is awesome and how it will help them. Then, they can decide whether to buy and get started.
4. Don't take a shortcut.
It’s important to always think about the next step.
In my book, I didn’t force people to buy my course. All I do is say, “Hey, opt in on my email list and you’re going to get more resources and access to some of my premium content.”
And once they subscribe to my emails, I reply to them and ask about their business or whatever it is.
So at every stage in the funnel, I’m only selling the next step. I’m not skipping to the last step, which is the purchase. When you skip steps in the buyer’s journey you lose sales. You drive away your prospects. Don’t rush. Follow your sales funnel.
A sales funnel is a tool. Its ability to track all of your leads will help you refine your strategy. Use a good CRM and you can eventually focus on qualified leads you can convert into sales.
But a key point here: It’s good to use your sales funnel for mapping out some processes—particularly with guiding your leads and prospects in a buyer’s journey—but you can’t replace a marketing plan with it. A solid marketing plan is your blueprint for getting and retaining customers.