Over the last few days I have been working on Sales and Marketing Funnels not only for my Business both also for my Clients. For those of you not familiar with the term funnel, it is the concept of channeling your Customers through a process so that they will purchase or hire your services.
With a traditional funnel, that you would use to fill a bottle, it is large at the top and narrow at the bottom. The idea is that everything that goes in the top of the funnel eventually ends up in the bottle making it is for you to decant one thing into another. Gravity is our friend naturally pushing the fluid into the new vessel.
When you apply this to a Sales and Marketing application we want as many Customers as possible to enter the top of the funnel. Unfortunately. very few people make it through the funnel as a result of gravity so we encourage them through the process through engagement with adverts, social media, videos, phone calls, and generally what we call touchpoints. The number of touchpoints required to push Customers through the funnel depends on whether they know you, like you, or trust you. As the number of purchases, your Customer has made increases, the shorter the funnel and the number of touchpoints decreases.

Like lots of analogies you can only take them so far before the logic break downs, here is my challenge with the term funnel. As I mentioned earlier the principle of a funnel is that you get everything that went into the top to come out of the bottom.

If your marketing and advertising are incorrectly targeted. it is possible that you are going to fill the funnel with people that are never going to become Customers. Let’s say we want to generate a prospect list of people who we think should be buying high-end cars. If we run a free prize draw to win a free track day in a Ferrari. Every young kid in the locality will enter the draw to win the prize. Now the idea was that we want to a prospect list for people who would be in a position to buy a high-end car, we now have a list of young drivers only a handful of which would be in a position to buy the high-end cars. However running the prize draw for people that had previously made a purchase or were reading certain publications or members of a club then the entries might be lower but more of the list will be in a position to buy the car.

So target who gets into the funnel in the first place is key. But what else?

If you have a big database of suspects or prospects and you are not nurturing them through the sales funnel, then eventually they will disengage and go elsewhere.

If pushing people through the sales funnel takes time, effort, and investment in advertising then should we be wasting our time on people who are not going to make it through the funnel and eventually going to make a purchase?

I have a good friend John, who knows way more about funnels than me. We used to joke that what we need is not a sales funnel but a sales sieve. The ideal funnel would a series of filters that would allow us to separate the wheat from the chaff as they say. At each stage we were refining who was moving to the next step so that in the end we only had the people that we wanted making it through the funnel.

A well-designed sales funnel will either naturally discount or allow people to deselect themselves from the process. Including a survey as a touchpoint in your Sales funnel allows you to divert people through different channels depending on their response. A more subtle and natural way is to capture metrics such as click-through responses allowing you to channel and nurture people through the process. Let me give you an example if we were running a Travel Agency and we have a bank of Customers on our Monthly Newsletter circulation. Over the course of a few weeks we send a series of stories of places you could potentially go on holiday. What is interesting is that Mrs. Jones always clicks on the stories of European City breaks and never skiing in North America. Now we want to run a campaign to promote trips to Prague. Based on Mrs. Jones’s previous viewings there is a good chance she will be interested based on her previous preferences, so sending her the offer would make sense. If it was skiing in Canada what’s the point she was not interested previously.

Another way to establish trust and to test the market is to have a smaller purchase to test the water as part of the funneling process. As an expert Baker could someone buy your cookbook before enrolling on a weekend course to learn how to make the perfect sponge.

So before you rush out spending a fortune on marketing, start thinking of it as a funnel, at each stage filter out the tyre kickers, it will save you time, effort and marketing budget.

If you need help with marketing and sales funnels give us a call and we will be happy to help you through the process.