One of the first questions most people have when they embark on an online business is how to create a sales funnel. There are tons of courses out there on how to develop funnels, but sometimes when you’re just starting out, you don’t have money to invest in, and then there’s always the question of is the person teaching this an expert or a wannabe? Rather than spending a lot of money today, let’s just break it down and start with the basics and start by explaining what a sales funnel is, what it’s used for, and how it helps your business.
A sales funnel is a way of moving a prospect or lead through the sales process until they become a paying customer. It’s that simple. You get a lead and then you need to do something with them to hopefully turn them into a customer someday so that your business can grow.
In a traditional marketing sales funnel we have four steps, they are
An online sales funnel is similar but often explained very different within the online marketing world. In online marketing a sales funnel is often described as the process of getting the lead into your funnel, nurturing them, and then turning them into customers. They are less likely to talk about the stages of the funnel the way we do in traditional marketing. The difference can be for several reasons but I suspect it’s due to the fact a number of the people in online marketing don’t have formal education in Marketing and because of that may not have been exposed to the other funnel.
We use a traditional sales funnel to ensure that we have content that addresses a customer's needs at every step of the process.
Awareness – a person in this stage knows they need something, but they may not yet know that you offer the product. They may not be aware you’re an option for their needs. They’re probably doing research and are not ready to make a decision. Someone at this stage is a long-term prospect, they’re going to need a lot more information before they convert.
Interest – someone at this stage is aware of what they need, and they’re interested in what you offer. The potential customer is wondering if you might be an option to help them solve their issue. At this stage, they want to know a bit more about you and what you offer and how you can help them. They’re still going to take a while to get to decision stage because they’ll have many questions to ask.
Consideration- someone in the consideration stage is close to making a decision to hire someone or buy a product. The potential customer is interested in ratings and reviews, they want to see testimonials and understand how your business operates. They will want to know how one option compares to another. They’re close to making a decision.
Decision – when a prospect gets to the decision stage they’re ready to purchase. The potential customer may move forward today, or they may be waiting for a coupon or special offer to commit. This person is prepared to move forward when the time is right.
People move through the stages of the sales funnel at different paces depending on what they’re looking for, how much it costs, and their own background or decision-making process. Someone can move from awareness to decision in a few days while another prospect may take months or years to turn into a sale.
Having a sales funnel in place helps ensure you’re nurturing your leads so that as they are able to get answers to their questions and move from one stage to the next at their pace. You can have the content on your website, it can be in blog posts, you can use social media to share it, you can email them specific information each week. Whatever you do, you stay in touch with them and address their needs. A sales funnel ties to the know, like, trust factors that many online entrepreneurs teach.
Someone has to know you (Awareness) before they can like you (Interest & Consideration) and ultimately trust you (Decision) enough to take action.
We’ll address how to create a sales funnel in an upcoming post. For now, start thinking about the questions you get asked on a regular basis and break them down into the stages of the funnel. What does someone need to know to decide if you’re an option for them? What will they want to know about your offering vs. the competition? Are there things that set you apart? What questions do people ask you when they’re considering buying your product or hiring you for a service?
I’m working on a Marketing 101 course for small business owners now. If you’d be interested in learning how to market your business within your community (online or offline) join our marketing group for small business owners and entrepreneurs and you’ll be the first to know when it’s ready.
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