What Is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is a process that businesses use to turn strangers into customers, and customers into brand advocates. To create a successful sales funnel, it’s often broken down into four steps:
- Attract: Use marketing and advertising methods to attract potential customers.
- Convert: Incentivize potential customers to share their contact information so that you can nurture the relationship.
- Close: Motivate potential customers to take action and become paying customers.
- Delight: Overdeliver and delight customers in order to retain their business and turn them into brand advocates.
The Sales Funnel Meaning
A proper sales funnel can also be explained by the stages a customer must go through before purchasing. This is often referred to as “AIDA”:
- Awareness: The potential customer must become aware of your product or service.
- Interest: Their awareness must develop into interest so that they want to learn more about your product or service.
- Desire: Their interest must then transform into a desire for your product or service.
- Action: Their desire must be strong enough to compel them to take action and become a paying customer.
The 7 Steps To Create A Successful Sales Funnel
Before you can start leading people through your sales funnel, you need to get their attention. This may start with an advertisement or a content article or even a press release. Your ads should remind people of the problems they face or the desires they have, and position your brand as the solution to those problems or desires.
Okay, now remember AIDA. At this point, you’ve created awareness. However, to move a potential customer onto the next stage of the buyer’s journey, you must turn awareness into interest.
Once you have created awareness of your brand and generated real interest, the next action step to create a successful sales funnel is discovery. This is the point where a potential customer becomes interested in learning more about your brand as well as your products and services. At this stage, it’s very important to educate the potential customer.
You also need to nurture your relationship with the customer, build trust, and position yourself as the perfect solution to their problem or desire. The content on your website or blog will help you develop your credibility and establish your business as a leader in the industry you’re in.
Once a potential customer understands their problems or desires and that you can provide them with the solutions they want and need, you then proceed to convert them into a sales lead.
A lead is someone who has expressed interest in what you’re selling. They may have shared their contact information with you, or maybe they have simply interacted with your website or social channels.
Whether you received an email address or your Facebook pixel tagged someone who stopped by your website, you can target leads with marketing messages designed to further the relationship. There are many different ways to do this. Marketers will often use something called a lead magnet. The lead magnet is a compelling offer given to website visitors who provide their email address and sign up to your mailing list.
Once you’ve converted a potential customer into a lead, you need to entice them to seriously consider purchasing your product or service. This is when you turn their interest into desire.
During this stage, the lead might look at your products or explore what deals or packages are on offer. Ideally, you’ll have developed so much trust and brand value that they won’t even consider checking out your competitors.
By this action step, your lead should have a solid understanding of their problem or desire, and the solution you provide to it.
5: Close the Sale
Now’s the time to close the sale. During this action step, the focus is on increasing your prospect’s desire for your products or services. You can do this by drawing their attention to a great product page, positive customer reviews, as well as a strong call to action. If you’ve successfully nurtured the lead through each stage of your sales funnel, they’ll purchase your product or service.
With that, pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Your sales funnel is working as it should and you’ve just landed a new customer! But your efforts don’t stop there.
6: Relationship and Retention
Now that you have closed the sale and secured a new customer, you need to reaffirm that they’ve made the right decision by following through on your promises. What’s more, you need to continue your marketing communications, because this is when you can start making the real money.
The focus now is customer retention. This is vital because even a 5% increase in customer retention can increase your profits by 25 – 95%. Plus, repeat customers spend 67% more than new customers.
Once you’ve pleased your customer to the best of your ability, you can move them to the final action step in your sales funnel.
7: Brand Advocacy
This is the action step where you turn happy customers into your very own brand advocates.
Once people fall in love with your brand, they’ll happily spread the word every chance they get about how awesome you are. Don’t underestimate this. It’s powerful and very effective. Just think of all the Apple fans who will happily argue with you until they’re blue in the face that iOS is far better than Windows.
To create advocates, you can set up a referral program, or encourage happy customers to leave a review or share their experiences on all social media channels. Ideally, you want your customers’ experiences to be so satisfying that they will go out and spread the word to everyone about how great you and your products are, without even being asked or reminded.
Free Checklist: Create An Effective Sales Funnel
When you create a successful sales funnel it puts your business on autopilot and consistently turns prospects into paying customers if you structure it the right way. To learn more, you can download my free Sales Funnel Checklist which outlines the best practices for your sales funnel strategy and provides free sales funnel templates.