Every person who comes into contact with your business and who ultimately becomes a customer will go through these five stages:
- Engage & Educate
- Build Interest & Desire
- Take Action & Convert
- Retain (and Refer)
Whether you use automated email sequences, webinars, online summits, in-person events or trainings, live speaking, sales calls, blogging, Facebook ads, podcasting, affiliate marketing, guest posting...whatever, those activities all will correspond with one of the five stages of your funnel.
It’s your job when building out your funnel to make sure you have all five of those stages covered...that you are guiding your future customer through your funnel with care and consideration every step of the way. How exactly you do that will depend on lots of different factors…
- What type of business you have (brick and mortar, online, wholesale, service business, etc)
- What sorts of products you sell
- Who your customer is
- How your customer makes purchasing decisions (HUGE … is it an impulse buy? Are they buying for a team of people? Is it a giant investment? Does it need to be professionally installed? Etc. Etc. Etc.)
- What industry you’re in, and possible regulations or compliance issues that might apply to you
- Your budget
- Your personal preferences for doing business
And any other myriad of considerations I’m not thinking of right now!
Bottom line -- there is no “one size fits all”. There is no “steal my swipe copy and watch the money roll in”. There is no “follow this formula and you, too, will be successful”.
- There is knowing your business and customers inside and out.
- There is experimenting.
- There is measuring.
- There is automating and streamlining when you hit on a formula that works.
That's all hard work, and there's no shortcut or "one-size-fits-all" template someone can give you to copy from. I can teach you the framework, but I don't know your business. YOU do!
To get started, ask yourself these questions:
- How am I attracting NEW customers to my business?
- What do I do to engage with new customers when they express interest in my business?
- How am I educating my future customers about my products and services?
- What am I doing to build my customers’ interest and desire for my products or services?
- What am I doing to instill a sense of urgency to buy with my customers?
- Am I asking for feedback after customers work with me or buy from me?
- Do I have a process in place to make it easy for my customers to refer me to others?
- Am I re-selling or up-selling other products or services to my customers, to earn their repeat business?
^^ This is a LOT of work. It's a lot to think through. These aren't simple questions you'll be able to nail down in just a few minutes. They are meant to invite deeper thought and reflection on how you're running your business.
At each stage in your funnel, you’re moving people along towards becoming happy, paying customers. If you understand what the stages are and what their purpose is, you will have an easier time effectively marketing & selling to your customers. Your messaging will be more focused, your customers will be clear what the next step in the process is, and you will stop driving yourself crazy with shiny object syndrome (I need to do webinars...NO, I need to do Facebook ads...NO, I need to be hosting events...NO, I need to be emailing my list...NO, I need to be guest blogging!)
Approaching your funnel in this systematic way will also help you measure its effectiveness more easily, and make strategic tweaks and changes based on how your marketing and sales efforts are performing with your customer base (i.e., are they buying?!).
Let’s talk through the 5 stages in more detail. I’ll also give you some ideas for practical marketing and sales strategies you can use at each stage.
Stage 1 - Attract
This is the stage where you are getting new eyeballs on your business. There are obviously LOTS of different ways to attract new business, be it through affiliate marketing, guest blogging, optimizing your website or blog to get more organic search traffic, using paid advertising, social media, hosting in-person or virtual events, etc.
Whatever the latest marketing trend is, it will likely fall into one of these four categories:
- SEO (optimizing your content so people find it organically when searching for topics on Google, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc)
- Paid Advertising (self explanatory, I think)
- Affiliate (You’re working with someone to capture traffic from their audience somehow...be it guest blogging, participating in a summit, being a speaker at someone’s event, hosting a viral giveaway, creating an affiliate or referral program of your own, etc)
- Referral (You are well-known enough where people send traffic your way without you needing to do anything...media coverage, getting picked up by a round-up, being featured on someone’s blog or website, being asked to be a guest on someone else’s show/channel/group, etc)
You’ll spend a lot of time working the “Attract” phase to get new eyeballs on your business, and there are plenty of effective ways to do this! Don't let anyone tell you there's only one way or one best way. There's a lot you can (and should) experiment with.
Stage 2 - Engage & Educate
At this stage, you’ve successfully attracted someone to your business. They’ve said “yes” somehow:
- Walked into your store
- Signed up for a workshop
- Opted in to grab a free download
- Joined your Facebook group
- Requested a discovery call
- Liked you on Instagram
- ...whatever else
Now it’s your job to engage with them...make them feel welcome, show them that you understand their problems/pains/desires, and begin to share about what you do and why.
At this stage, you might be hosting events, webinars, using automated email sequences, getting on the phone one-on-one with people, engaging on social media, sharing content on your blog, conducting weekly podcasts, delivering a free ecourse...whatever it is, your job at this stage is to engage & educate your customers, and keep them moving along in your funnel.
Stage 3 - Build Interest & Desire
At this stage, you’re starting to filter down to potential customers who actually are a good fit for your business and for your paid offers. You’re starting to eliminate people you can’t help, or who aren’t ready to buy for whatever reason. You’ve established some level of trust and rapport with the people who are still hanging around in your funnel. Finally...you’re ready to start building interest and desire for your paid products.
You may use some of the same strategies you were using at the “engage & educate” stage, but now your messaging and focus is different. Your audience already knows you...and your relationship with them is deepening.
How do you need to tweak and adjust the marketing and sales strategies you employ at this stage of the funnel to reflect that?
Stage 4 - Take Action & Convert
By this stage, you’re actively asking for the sale. You’re telling people clearly how to buy. There may be sales pages on your website, invoices delivered over email, a sales script you’re using on a phone call, a pitch deck.
What about up-sells, and down-sells? How is the actual money transaction happening? Once they pay...how do they get a receipt, and any other info they’d need to get started?
Finally -- What can you do to make your new customer feel like your only customer?
Stage 5 - Retain & Refer
Often the most forgotten stage of the funnel! You closed the deal...your customer is happy...now what?
What are you doing to either earn their repeat business, or get them to refer you to others? You can automate a lot of this stage using various software and technology. Think: automated follow-up emails, thank-you letters, reminder emails to leave reviews, and referral incentives. Don’t let your customers forget about you. How can you stay top-of-mind?
Two things before I sign off today:
1 - I created a sales funnel roadmap you can use to get started mapping your funnel.
If you got value from this post and you'd like to start implementing for your business, sign up below and I'll send you my sales funnel roadmap . I think you’ll find this to be a valuable resource as you begin to build out a funnel of your own.