Imagine if someone came up to you in the street and asked you if you’d like to buy a $5,000 watch. What would you say?
99.9999% of the time, you would say no to that offer, right?
Well, apart from the fact that you might not want a watch (you are a ‘cold lead’ in that respect), there’s also the small issue of trust, recognition and authority.
You don’t know who this person is, you’ve been given no reason to trust them and you’re probably not going to want to hand over any cash.
That’s why companies don’t do this.
Instead, they give you fliers. Fliers are things you can choose to accept or throw away – but either way, they don’t cost you anything and you won’t feel that you’re being pressured into anything.
Other stores do something different: they give away freebies. Walk past Starbucks and you’ll often find them giving away free samples of their new drinks and cakes for you to try.
Again, you can easily walk away if you’re not interested and you won’t feel you’re being strong-armed. If you like the free sample though, then you can come in and try whatever else they’re offering.
If you try and sell to people right away on your website though, then you’re the equivalent of someone trying to sell thousand dollar watches in the street.
And if that’s the only thing you’re offering and the only way that your visitors can engage with you, then they’re just going to say ‘no thanks’ and leave, giving you no way to contact them again and no way to get them back.
As you might have guessed, this is a poor strategy!
Try to imagine it from their perspective: they have typed ‘fitness tips’ into Google, found your page essentially by accident and now you’re trying to sell them your training program for $500.
People do not make decisions on that basis unless they’re loaded with cash. They’ll see you’re trying to sell them, write you off as spam and then leave.
What exactly is a sales funnel?
In essence, a sales funnel can be imagined like a funnel for customers. You start out with a broad opening to capture as many leads as possible and then you gradually narrow those leads down to only the most engaged and interested customers so that you can sell to them.
So you might start with a simple advert, or a blog post, and then move on to an email list, then a ‘free report’, then a seminar, then a small product sale and then a big sale. Each of these marketing stages is a rung on a ladder, it’s a little further down the funnel.
And each time a customer clicks on the next link, or follows you to the next step, they are becoming more and more likely to buy from you. All the while, you’ll be building trust, building engagement and priming them ready to make a sale.
Why do you need one?
The objective of a sales funnel can be understood by looking at it in the context of lead generation.
Essentially this means that you’re reaching out to people that are in your target demographic and then slowly introducing them to your brand.
These people are your cold leads – the people who have shown no interest in your brand and who never asked you to contact them but who nonetheless fit into your target demographic.
You’re not trying to force your product down their throats right away but instead you are collecting their details so that you can build a relationship and then sell to them.
Perhaps they subscribed to your mailing list, or maybe they liked you on Facebook. They are warm leads. Now they are potentially ready to be marketed to.
Finally, you have your ‘qualified lead’. This is someone who has shown an interest in buying from you – perhaps by requesting a quote or clicking to get more information about a product.
In terms of your sales funnel, the qualified lead is the person who is now ready to cross the ‘free line’ and become a paying customer.
This is a crucial concept to understand when constructing a sales funnel because it shows you how you’re going to reach out to new leads and then develop them into paying customers.
You start with your cold lead and you end with someone who loves your brand and is committed to buying.
A sales funnel is the most systematic way to build trust, to build a relationship and to encourage people to want your brand before making a sale.