Every business large and small has a sales funnel. Whether you’re a freelance hairdresser who gets all your leads from a written sign in the local newsagents, or a 30-person-strong digital marketing agency with a fully automated CRM system, you have a sales funnel. Kate Jones, from Inspiring Interns, explains further.
Small businesses have lots to gain from finding ways to capitalise on their funnel by identifying what’s already working for them and where their weak points are.
What is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel is simply the process of attracting potential customers and converting them into paying customers. Every time we make a purchase decision – in our personal or business lives – we are completing a sales funnel.
Let’s take the example of visiting a restaurant. Say your birthday is coming up, and you want to visit somewhere new. You heard about a place in town from a friend that makes great pizza, your favourite food, and decide you should look into it.
You visit their website to look at the menu and maybe a few photos – the food is priced well, the decor is lovely, and you decide to give it a go. The day of your birthday arrives, and you have a fantastic meal – the best you can remember in ages. It was so good that you decide to visit the restaurant on a regular basis and you tell all your friends how great it is.
By this point, you have been through this restaurant’s entire sales funnel:
- Awareness: Your friend made you aware it existed.
- Consideration: You looked at their website to find out more.
- Trial: You had your birthday meal.
- Loyalty: You loved it so much you returned regularly.
- Advocacy: You also told your friends how great it was.
The restaurant would be over the moon with this outcome – not only have they secured your ongoing business, they have you acting as an unpaid ambassador. To achieve this, they had to offer a great menu and have a good website, and they had to deliver on their promise of a fantastic meal.
What drives your sales funnel?
Now it’s time to think about your own sales funnel.
How do people become aware of your business, and which marketing campaigns have worked well for you in the past? Consider where your past and present customers found out about you – are you spending enough time and money driving these activities?
Once people become aware of your business, how do they find out more? Do you have a great website or Facebook page, or do people need to contact you directly for information? What questions do they tend to ask you – are you answering them on your website? How could you make this process even easier for potential customers?
When people try your service or product out, how good is their experience? How many people do you convert into loyal customers? What feedback have you received that could lead to improvements?
How easy are you making it for your customers to advocate your business to others? Do you have business cards for them to take away? Do you offer a referrals scheme?
You don’t have to answer all of these questions straight away: they are intended to provoke thought and help you sharpen up your sales funnel to maximise your marketing efforts and grow your loyal customer base. A sales funnel is a living thing – it will change over time as your business grows and the needs of your customers diversify. The most important thing is to be aware of its existence and make it work for you rather than against you.