Your Sales Funnel, or Prospecting Sales Funnel, is the model by which you find customers.
All businesses use a Sales Funnel. The question is whether you are using it effectively, or simply ignoring it’s power.
Your Sales Funnel simply describes a predictable sales cycle: you find leads, you qualify (“make a sales pitch”) those leads, then you convert the leads who qualify.
So, at the top of the funnel are where all the leads are, as you make contact and predispose them to a sale you qualify them, and then as they become interested you convert them. At the same time your marketing messages need to be appropriate to the stage of the funnel in which your leads sit. At the top where you are attracting leads you “broadcast” messages to them; then as you start to have conversations you provide “screening” messages, and finally when they are near conversion you give “targeting” messages.
The Broadcast Level is at the top of the funnel. The members of the Target Market who are still in the Broadcast level need marketing activities with broad messages – mostly one-way messages from you – to a large group of potential customers. These activities and messages are aimed at prospective customers who may not be aware of your product, you or your credibility. You need to create awareness and increase your credibility.
The Screening Level is at the middle of the funnel. The people from your Target Market who are at this level need marketing activities that are much narrower in scope and focus. They are aimed at customers in the qualification stage of buying, that is, they are in the phase of “looking around”. These marketing activities are therefore aimed at a smaller group of people who are already aware of you and your product but are looking to see if you “qualify” as a supplier. The marketing activities at this level need to carry a tailored message and are best if interactive.
The Target Level is at the bottom, narrow end of the funnel. The people here need marketing activities that are directed at customers in the selection phase. Target Level marketing activities need to be highly focused at driving them to your door, at making the selection and buying. They must convey almost individualised messages and may even be on the one to one level.
Watch this video, extracted from my SMART Marketing online workshop course, and then read up about the types of marketing activities you can employ to send out the right messages.
As I said at the beginning, every business has a Sales Funnel, but the question is whether or not you actively use it. If you merely wait for people to call you to enquire about your goods and services, you are not actively broadcasting and prospecting. If, when they call you, all you do is merely give them a standard brochure, make no enquiries about their needs, and don’t follow up – you are not screening and qualifying your leads. If after that, by some persistence they decide they might want to buy from you and you still give them a standard approach focused on you and your product rather than them, you are really not targeting them towards conversion.
A successful business employs an active Sales Funnel where each stage is actively analysed and leads are found, feted, personalised and driven down towards conversion.
Here are the types of marketing activities you can use to do this:
This is the most obvious activity, taking out an advertisement in the media. You will need to think about design and what to say to stay on message, as well as the most appropriate media outlet for your product to reach your Target Market. Advertising can create awareness as well as drive traffic, however it is a fairly static form of marketing.
- Special offers
This can be any form of offer where the customer receives extra perceived value – buy one get one free; buy to be in a competition; etc. Special offers are a great way to drive traffic towards your product and keep existing customers happy, but they are unsustainable if used all the time. They need to be special offers.
- Loyalty cards
The ol’ Frequent Flyer trick – the customer buys to accumulate points to get something, a free gift or points exchange. This marketing activity is great for rewarding your loyal customers and making sure they stay with you once they know you and your product. The existence of a loyalty program can also drive traffic to you.
- Customer relationship management
Customer relationship management is about creating a schedule of contact with your customer, where you create a sense of value about your relationship with them. This is particularly effective for services like professional services. It involves meeting minimum service standards (time, cost etc), after service contact to see they are happy, regular contact “just to see how you are going”, Christmas cards, invitations to lunch, etc. Customer relationship management or CRM can keep existing customers and show new ones the value of your product.
Sponsorship can range from multi-million dollar sponsorship of sports teams to your name on the prize at the local school. What you sponsor has to be appropriate for your product – if you sell alcohol, it’s probably not a good idea to sponsor the local school prize day. Sponsorship does not directly increase your sales but it does increase awareness and can reinforce your message and brand.
- Blogging and video-blogging
If you look around the internet these days there are hundreds of blogging websites from WordPress to Tumblr. Would it surprise you to know that this is becoming the leading way for businesses to communicate with their customers? Blogs allow you to provide value to your customer by giving instruction, advice about how to use your product, and “teasers” about the services you provide. It is an excellent way to create awareness and credibility.
- Social media announcements or messages
This is a similar media to blogs but social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are better used for creating awareness of your product or of any specific marketing activities such as special offers, sales, or the launch of new products. They can also be used to provide links to blogs and your website thus creating a loop of messages.
- Seminars and presentations
You can organise your own seminar or speak at an event. You can speak at industry events, demonstrate products at trade shows, hold a workshop. This is an excellent way of creating awareness and displaying your knowledge or the value of your product.
Masterclasses are events where a group of people join to share ideas and problems they face in their businesses. The concept involves either people from the same industry learning from each other, or individuals who represent different industries. At the Masterclass, each gets a chance to talk about their business or problem and the others, who have different perspectives can discuss or help solve problems. This is a great way to meet people who might serve your business, but also for them to meet you and see what you can do for their business.
- Websites and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
If you do not have a website today, you are a fool. Sorry, no other word for it. With the world wide web the way it is today, and the increasing use of mobile devices, if potential customers can’t Google you, it is more and more likely you will be left behind. Websites, whether you actually sell product on them or simply communicate your message and value, do actually drive customers to your door.
- Brochures, catalogues and flyers
These can be a great way to “show off your wares” to people who have not visited your business, or who have not returned for some time. They are also a great way to create awareness of new products. Brochures can be distributed by mail (see cold-calling), neighbourhood letter-box drop, via your website, or distributed through nearby (non-competing) businesses.
Periodic sales are a great idea (once you have achieved customer awareness of your product) of creating a bigger volume of sales. If the value is perceived, sales events can drive a lot of traffic to your door. However they need to be applied by reference to your brand (should a luxury brand be on sale that many times a month?) and your market (do I really want to get legal advice “on sale”?).
Except for true-born sales people, cold-calling sends chills down people. It takes a different personality to just pick up the telephone and call someone out of the cold to try to communicate your message to this stranger. However, depending on the extent your product is known, cold-calling, or cold-mailing can drive customers directly to your door because you get a chance to probe for needs, provide benefits and remove objections.
- Press releases
If your product or what you have to say is of timely interest and you can persuade your local press or radio to include your press release in their news, this is an excellent way to create awareness, deliver the message, create credibility, and announce new initiatives. For some reason a news article quoting you has more credibility in the eyes of the public than the same quote in your own material – take advantage of it.
- Media interviews
Media interviews are similar to press releases. They are a great way of raising your profile and credibility especially if you are being interviewed to show your expertise and skill. Depending on the subject, this is not likely to drive traffic to your door, but the next time somebody hears your name they will likely remember it as “the expert”.
- Collaborative marketing
Collaborative marketing is about sharing resources with related but non-competing businesses. Collaborative marketing can range from 3 or 4 businesses sharing resources to advertise a sales event on the street, to special offers where if a customer buys your product they receive a discount voucher for the next door business. The advantage of collaborative marketing is that a campaign becomes affordable because you share costs. It also drives people directly to your door.
So, after this mini-training extracted from my SMART Marketing online workshop course, why don’t you get into action:
- Identify what messages you need to give your prospects;
- Decide on the marketing activities that can broadcast that message to your target market;
- Capture the details of people who respond;
- Identify the messages you want to qualify those interested;
- Decide on the marketing activities that you can give that message to those interested;
- Identify the messages to target people for conversion
- Follow up with marketing activities to convert.
If you want to know more about your marketing activities, it’s part of my 7-Step SMART Marketing program that will help you use your own knowledge and create a focused marketing plan. Check out this link and get three free marketing training modules that you can implement in your business within the week.
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The training modules are worth $900 but is yours for free, to follow and implement in your business within the week, so that you can learn about the effectiveness of my SMART Marketing Program.
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