Do you ever wonder why no one is buying anything even after visiting your website? You take a look at your Google Analytics month after month. People are visiting your website and maybe traffic has even increased, but your bottom line isn’t reflecting that trend.
If you can relate, you’re not alone.
Most experts state that the average time spent on any given website is just 62 seconds. Ouch.
That’s not a lot of time… Can you remember the last time you made a decision to purchase an item, commit to a subscription, or order a service in just 62 seconds? Neither can most people.
This reveals the importance of building a strategic sales funnel that is designed with customer retention and conversion in mind. Just because people visit your website, it doesn’t mean that they will convert into paying customers, especially within 62 seconds.
A sales funnel nurtures these leads until they are ready to make the final decision to purchase. This results in lower conversion costs, happier customers, and ultimately more profit.
Here’s what you need to know.
What Exactly Is a Sales Funnel?
Simply put: a sales funnel is a way to meet potential customers wherever they are in the buyer’s journey.
In many ways, a sales funnel is like dating. It happens in stages and every milestone happens in a specific order.
You don’t propose for marriage on the first date.
You don’t ask about meeting the parents for the holidays after two dinners.
You don’t give someone the keys to your place after the first time they spend the night.
Building a relationship takes trust, communication, and nurturing.
Developing a relationship with customers is no different.
We don’t like making important decisions with strangers. If this were the case, then we would respond to all cold emails and cold emailing would be the number one marketing tactic. But it’s not. Why? Because it is essentially a sales pitch for a product you don’t need from a company you don’t know.
Here’s where most people mess up: the goal of a sales funnel is not to make sales.
Yes, it’s called a “sales funnel,” but today’s consumers are smart and savvy. They can “smell” when you are trying to sell them something. There’s a reason there is a negative connotation surrounding car salesmen.
Instead, a strategic sales funnel focuses on what we discussed above: building trust, providing transparent communication, and nurturing leads until they determine that they are ready for the sale.
It seems counterintuitive, but it is the formula that successful businesses are able to replicate time and time again.
When you follow this formula, you are able to acquire customers, activate them, and keep them as loyal customers who will continue to do business with you and refer friends and family your way.
How a Strategic Sales Funnel Works
The traditional sales funnel has three stages. Each stage gets smaller (similar to the funnel shape) as you nurture potential customers through the funnel.
The three stages are:
Attraction and awareness
Interest and desire
Below, let’s explore the specific tactics you can use to fully flush out each stage of your sales funnel.
Stage One: Attraction and Awareness
This is the “top of funnel” stage. During this stage, you are casting a targeted, but wide, net. Not everyone you reach will turn into a paying customer, but these should be people who are at least likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
In order to create awareness for your brand, product, or service, take a look at what your competitors are doing. If your competitors are all implementing similar strategies, then it is likely because that is what works in your industry. For example, if you notice that your competitors are blogging, running Facebook ads, or investing in SEO, then you will want to jump into the game before your business gets left behind.
In general, there are two ways to build attraction and awareness.
The first is called inbound marketing. This is where customers find you. How? Well, one of the most common ways is through search engines like Google.
How many times have you searched a phrase like:
Restaurants close to me.
Where is the closest movie theatre?
Cheap hotels near me.
Where to find a dry cleaner.
The reality is that no one can force Google to display your business on the first page of search results when someone searches these terms.
However, you can dramatically increase the likelihood of ranking higher on Google by investing in search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO fine-tunes your website, provides value to potential customers through blogging, and makes it clear to Google what your website is about. SEO is a long-term game, but when it is successful, you are able to harness the power of free traffic from Google.
In short, you are building Attraction and Awareness through people searching for your services through google.
The second way to build Attraction and Awareness is through outbound marketing. Instead of customers finding you organically, you find them.
Typically, this is done through paid advertising such as Facebook Ads or Google AdWords. This is an incredibly powerful strategy because digital ads allow you to target users based on their behavior, demographics, and likelihood of purchasing from your business. Of course, the downside of advertising is that it costs money — and the leads stop coming in when you stop running ads.
It is for this reason that most businesses tend to invest in a mix of both strategies.
Stage Two: Interest and Desire
Just because someone is aware about your business, it does not mean that they will do business with you. After all, all of us can likely name dozens of brands that we know by name, but haven’t personally done business with.
So… once you attract potential customers and make them aware of your business, how do you turn them into paying customers?
By building Interest and Desire!
A good analogy for this is when you are in a clothing store. Have you ever noticed that workers encourage you to try on the clothes? They do this because the process of trying on clothes builds interest! And if you look good in the clothes, then you will desire the clothes. The same happens at a car dealership. People are more likely to desire the car after test driving it. Both Interest and Desire make you more likely to purchase the product.
One of the most common ways that businesses nurture potential leads is through email marketing.
Does your business have an email opt-in form on your website? If not, then you will want to implement one ASAP.
Keep in mind that people who willingly give you their email address are already interested in your business. Now, it’s your job to nurture them until they are ready to turn into a paying client.
During this process, consider:
Explaining the benefits of your product or service.
Comparing and contrasting your business with your competitors.
Sharing case studies and testimonials of happy clients.
Show how your brand can be of service to help people solve their problems.
Make your offer irresistible.
Notice how everything here is focused on the customer?
Instead of trying to “sell” to the customer, you are showcasing how your business helps the customer. This means that they will make the decision for themselves without ever feeling pressured into a purchase.
If you ran Facebook ads or Google AdWords in Stage One, then in Stage Two, you would re-target those customers. This means that you would show ads only to people who already interacted with previous ads. Because this is the second or third time they are interacting with your business, the advertising cost will be cheaper and they will become more likely to actually do business with you!
Stage Three: Action
Now, it’s time to finally close the sale!
Instead of attempting to cold sell, you are now making a direct pitch to people who have interacted with your brand multiple times. They’re familiar with your business, with your offerings, and understand your value proposition.
To seal the deal, you have to make your best offer.
Remember the dating analogy we referenced above? If someone proposed to you but you only saw their bad side, would you say “yes?” Probably not.
But if someone showed you all their sides, both good and bad, and was transparent and honest with you, would you say “yes”? If it was a good fit, certainly!
When it comes to business, your best foot forward includes your best offer — an offer that is irresistible to ignore. Maybe it’s a special discount or a special deal. Maybe it’s a free trial. Maybe it’s the buy-one-get-one-free deals that you see all the time in advertisements. It could even be a product demonstration so that people know how valuable your product is. Whatever it is, this is the time to go all out.
The Secret Stage: Keep the Process Going
Most businesses stop after they get the sale.
But the secret to growing your business is to keep the process going.
This means getting customers to become repeat clients or getting them to bring referrals to your business. Restaurants do this through loyalty programs. Ecommerce businesses do this through email newsletters. Clothing stores do this through regular sales throughout the year. Be creative! There are endless ways to keep your customers coming back time and time again.
Need help optimizing your sales funnel?
At Exceptional Services, we specialize in helping businesses identify the areas where they can optimize their processes. But that’s not all. We also help businesses create and implement a strategy to make that optimization a reality!
Ready to learn more? Schedule a free consultation with us today!