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Posted by Sarah Brown on 10 Sept '14

Do you know how you get sales?

Every business needs a sales funnel and needs to understand how it works. Modern technology can help but only if you have a clear strategy and method.

To get sales, you need to provide ways for people to buy from you, and that is called a sales funnel. At the top, you pour in leads from the marketplace, and gradually, people find out more, and as it goes on, there are fewer people left until they come out the bottom of the funnel as sales and customers.

At the first stage, people have a problem or a desire but won't know they need to search for your service or problem. For example, I want to feel more confident when I go to business meetings could be an issue someone faces. If they search on the internet, which is now the natural way most people find information, then what tends to come up is how to enter a room, how to talk, confidence coaching, and counselling. If you are a business selling quality clothes and accessories or even in marketing, then an article addressing this vague issue could help you get potential leads into the top of your funnel(the link is to a blog, " How to Stop People Turning Off," for example). They don't know they want the service but might realise you can help, and you can get their name to provide ongoing useful information if they are interested in looking better, etc.

At each stage, how you communicate and what you say will vary. Most businesses also have different types of potential buyers, and each type will need a different set of steps to get them through the sales funnel. In the past, much more of the selling was done face to face, but now most people will have done a lot of research before they ever talk to you. That is why it is critical to provide information as the first stage of your sales funnel when you just want to attract the right kind of potential customers and begin building a relationship.

Get them to your website or meet them at a networking event, and you can move them to the inquiring stage. Initially, you may have an email address but no idea what they are interested in.

After that stage, people start to ask more detailed questions - is this particular item or service right for me? They become a prospect - maybe they download some specific information. Next, they ask if you are the right supplier, and they become a lead for a specific service. Once you have given a quote or proposal, they become an opportunity, which you can put a monetary value against, and finally, when they have assessed if you have the right credentials and credibility, they become a customer. On-going, they may re-enter the sales funnel again for other services or repeat services.

The stages vary from business to business and in complexity and timescale, but once you have mapped them you can begin to create some logic which will tell you how many prospects you need to get leads and opportunities and finally customers. These conversion rates allow you to identify areas where you can improve and also how much promotion you need to do. For example, let's say for every 1,000 email addresses you have on your database, 250 open your e-newsletter, and if you have an offer on a specific service, generally 25 will click through to investigate the offer, and 10 will then buy. If you can increase the email addresses to 2,000, keeping the same quality, and nothing else changes, you will get 20 customers. If you can improve your newsletter so just 5% more open it and you change nothing else ie you still have the original 1,000 email addresses you will get another 2-3 customers. Test and improve your offers so the conversion of readers increases and again you get more customers.

If you have a sales funnel and keep on inputting leads you will keep on getting sales or you will be able to identify at which stage you lose people and so identify what to do about it. It really is that simple. If you have a CRM this can be used to manage the process if not we have a simple tool which can help, the sales multiplier(c).

However, the sales funnel will only work if you make it easy to buy and we have also developed a much more detailed Relationship Builder(c) and Income Builder(c) which match what you have to sell with each stage of building a relationship from free resources and information, through to premium and regular income. We can take you through it in a single Action Marketing Plan session.

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Tags: entrepreneur marketing tools sales