How do you build a sales funnel that delivers results?

Start with your sales goal.
It’s common knowledge that most sales funnels fall way short of expectation. So the question is how can we deliver excellent results? To answer that question let’s go back a few decades.

About 30 or so years ago most sales were closed via phone calls and face to face meetings and most appointments were set up through the phone. There were no cell phones, no internet, no email, and no affordable real CRM software to track sales. Sales funnels were really just an extension of advertising.

For example, an ad in Yellow Pages (that’s what they were called in the 1980s) led to a phone call that led to a potential opportunity.

The ad in Yellow pages was basically the 1980s version of a “landing page” that relied on the phone to connect consumers to businesses. It was pretty effective until it was disrupted by the internet.

Fast forward to now and every business wants to tap into the power of the internet to sell more products and services. Sales funnels generate leads 24/7, and are designed to engage and nurture prospects automagically.

A sales or marketing funnel is basically a set of steps you build to attract, engage, qualify, and sell. If you know your customer journey from their first interaction with your business to the point they become customers, you can build a funnel.

However, there’s a misconception that sales funnels are driven by technology. Do a Google search for the term “sales funnels” and most of the results end up going to CRM software companies.

Here’s the shocker: Sales funnels and CRMs are not the same. CRM companies want you to think they are so you buy their products.

Sales funnels have existed for a VERY long time! The very first sales funnel was probably when a caveman decided to “sell” a bowl of corn in exchange for a bow and arrow so he could go hunting.

A finely tuned funnel is like a performance race engine. Every moving part and mechanism is designed for optimum performance. Similarly, a hyper converting sales funnel is built to win more sales in less time. Every part of the funnel is designed to deliver results. If a step is not performing, it’s either improved or removed.

A funnel can be long and complex or short and simple depending on your business, niche, and offer.

Low ticket products and online businesses often have simpler decision making steps. On the other hand, high ticket products have more steps and longer sales cycles. For example, when I’m selling a $100K product, I spend a fair amount of time building relationships with my prospects and moving them through decision steps that could take weeks to complete.

If I’m selling a $50 product online, I may spend most of my effort near the top of the funnel to generate a large number of leads and opportunities. The sale itself is relatively quick and easy with e-commerce.

To build a funnel, start with your sales goal first.

This may sound counterintuitive because we tend to focus at the top of the funnel first. In practice, you want to start at the bottom where you make sales. In other words, start with the end in mind.

Light at the end of the funnel

Your funnel’s purpose is to help you generate opportunities, engage prospects, and sell more in less time. As a salesperson, time is your most precious asset. Your funnel needs to help you scale your sales without multiplying your work.

To reach $1MM in sales selling a $100 product requires 10,000 sales. Your funnel should make it easier for you to engage a large audience without needing to hire an army of support staff. How many people do you need to engage with to sell 10,000 products?

Write down that number. Then think about where are the most likely places where your target audience hangs out. When you figure out the answer to these 2 questions, it’s a matter of identifying the decision steps your prospects go through to purchase. Those decision steps form the basis of your sales roadmap.

Congratulations, you now have the basic framework for your sales funnels.

The outcome of your sales funnel

To sell you need qualified leads. Qualified leads are people that have a need, want it now, and they have money to purchase.

Your conversion determines how many qualified leads you need to reach your sales goal. It also determines how many leads you need to generate at the top of the funnel. Without knowing your numbers your sales funnel becomes unpredictable and inconsistent. In hyper funnels, we teach our clients to get down and dirty and work out the numbers.

Whether you sell a $100 product through e-commerce or a $100K product through direct sales, your conversion determines if you have sufficient opportunities in your funnel to reach your sales goal.

When selling through e-commerce, your funnel can generate leads and initiate sales transaction in real time, there’s no negotiation step. In the case of a $100K product, your face-to-face selling and negotiating skills play as important a part as your funnel. 

The middle of the funnel: Attract, engage, qualify

This is where you’ll probably spend 80% of your time. In digital marketing land, we use lead magnets, landing pages, blog posts, email campaigns, etc. to attract, engage and qualify. But trade shows, conferences, channel partners and referrals can be great tactics too.

The challenges we often see here has to do with poor engagement and lack of timely follow-ups. Poor engagement includes things like weak value proposition and messaging that doesn’t stand out from the noise. Often this is because that the funnel is not fine-tuned. We address this and similar challenges in hyper funnel framework.

TOP OF THE FUNNEL

This is where the majority of your leads are generated. People enter your funnel through opt-in forms, landing pages, email campaigns, PPC ads, trade shows, conferences, lunch meetings, etc. Since these folks typically are not ready to buy yet, your strategy should be to build trust and authority and nurture them towards purchase.

Common problems that we see at the top of the funnel include inconsistent lead generation and too broad a target market.  

In hyper funnels framework, we focus on 4 key elements:

  1.  Sales roadmap with turn-by-turn directions
  2. Positioning relative to your nearest competitors
  3. Identifying and engaging with your top sources of opportunities
  4. Building and running a hyper converting sales funnel

The combination of these 4 elements can minimize inconsistent lead generation and maximize sales.

Earlier we mentioned several tactics you can use to generate top of the funnel leads. The most scalable and cost-effective way is through digital means. Trade shows, conferences, coffee meetings are not scalable. Yes, they can be excellent ways to start building your business but they can quickly suck up a lot of time and resources.

A practical strategy is to broaden your portfolio of lead gen tactics to include both digital an traditional tactics.

One of the common challenges I see with B2B businesses is the lack of skills in building scalable, predictable sales funnels. This gap was one of the main reasons that I created the hyper funnel framework. I use hyper funnels to help businesses multiply sales and find new opportunities. 

Great, I’ve mapped out my funnel, how do I turn it on?

Once you have determined the main sections of your sales funnel, chose your attraction and engagement strategy, it’s time to wire it up.

In the digital marketing world, the most basic funnel has 3 building blocks

Landing page

This is where a prospect lands from your traffic sources. The landing page’s purpose is to either serve as a point of sales or an intermediate stage to collect prospect information in exchange for something of value.

Lead capture block

Often known as an opt-in form, lead capture block’s sole purpose is to collect lead information. The most common type of capture is a name and email address.

You can design lead capture blocks to qualify leads based on your needs. An example is a “request for quote” or RFQ page. The lead capture block here can have many fields so by the time you pick up the phone to call the prospect, they’re already partially qualified.

The lead magnet

A lead magnet is like fuel that runs the engine of your micro funnel. Your prospects are willing to give you their contact information in exchange for getting the lead magnet.

However, lead magnets are not limited to the top of the funnel activity. Any valuable information or asset can potentially be used as a lead magnet.

Thank you page

This may seem an afterthought to many but it serves a very important function. It serves the purpose of presenting a confirmation message to your prospect and optionally as a way to further engage them. For example, you can use the thank you page to invite people to join your FREE private coaching group immediately after they opt-in for your newsletter.

These 3 basic building blocks can be wired in different ways depending on the tools you’re familiar with or have access to. For example, there are dozens of ways to construct landing pages and lead capture blocks including:

  • WordPress pages
  • Leadpages
  • Thrive Architect
  • Unbouce

Leadpagess gives you the ability to create all 3 blocks with their software. An email autoresponder is a common mechanism for handling automation once your prospect submits his contact information. There are many email service providers with built-in autoresponders including:

  • MailChimp
  • Aweber
  • ConvertKit
  • Drip

Most of these email service providers are easy to use especially if you’re a DIY fan and have the time to put aside to learn their tools.

This basic 3 step funnel is not a complete working funnel until you identify how you’re going to convert your prospects into customers.

Your lead capture opt-in form and thank you pages need to map additional sales and marketing steps. For example, how do you intend to qualify leads? After you qualify, how will you sell? Do you have a compelling value proposition so people buy from you instead of your competitors?

You’re starting to get the picture. A sales funnel is not just a mechanical set of steps that get checked off a spreadsheet. It’s not a TO DO LIST!

It’s not just an opt-in form that’s connected to a thank you page. There’s strategy, a game plan that makes everything work together to crush your sales.

We cover these and many more topics in hyper funnels to build a comprehensive sales funnel from scratch.

I encourage my clients to focus on the big picture first. Don’t worry about the tech until you have a roadmap for your sale funnel. A roadmap should show you how to get from point A to Point B. It gives you confidence that you’re on the right track. It gives you the vision for what needs to happen to win more sales. Once you have a roadmap, then use whatever tech that best meets your needs to wire up your funnel.