If you are like most business leaders, you’ve probably heard the term “sales funnel” more times than you can remember, even if you don’t have a sense of the exact meaning, or how it applies to Internet marketing.
The term itself originates with actual direct sales departments, where producers would make phone calls, office visits, etc., to identify new opportunities and place them into a broad “funnel.”
At the top of the funnel was anyone who seemed to have an interest in a product, or could be persuaded to listen to a presentation in the future. With each successive step (like a live demo of the product, negotiation of the price, or other action), a potential buyer would move further into the funnel, with the entire process designed to generate a finished order at the end.
The first thing that’s important about the sales funnel concept is the recognition that, for most people and with most products or services, an immediate sale just isn’t very likely.
A lot of people won’t simply walk into an office and buy a large life insurance policy, for example, or purchase an entirely new network system for their office. But, what they will do is take one piece of information and then another, becoming more interested at each step.
That leads us to the second important point about the sales funnel: It recognizes that generating accounts and orders is a process, and that persuading people to buy means moving them from one phase to the next, not randomly giving them pieces of information that may or may not influence their decision.
Without understanding those two details, it can be difficult (or outright impossible) to move potential customers closer to a sale through the Internet. That’s because they aren’t likely to be ready to buy when they first come across your company or website, and need a little time and nurturing before they take the next step, meet with a rep, etc.
By using a sales funnel approach, though – and especially one that focuses on attraction with great content and website automation – you can let buyers become comfortable with your company and products at their own pace. That’s because you don’t bombard them with sales messages, but stay in touch with more customer-specific pieces of information that help pique their interest.
When you let selling become a process in this way, a few great things tend to happen:
You often win new accounts because you are “there at the right time.”
Of course, because you are automatically following up with them at regular time intervals, you’re almost always there at just the right time, but it doesn’t necessarily feel that way to potential customers.
Sales and marketing become more cost-effective, and more time-efficient, than they were in the past.
Getting bigger results from a smaller input of time and money is the name of the game in most organizations. With an online sales funnel approach, you truly can accomplish just that.
Your approach to following up with prospects changes over time.
The more you learn and work with prospects, the better you get at sending the messages that get them to take action. In other words, you learn to work smarter and get better results at the same time.
No sales opportunity is ever truly lost.
The real beauty of the sales funnel is that potential customers can fail to move forward, but they rarely ever fall out – when you keep providing great information at regular intervals, they’ll signal when they are ready to take the next step.
Sometimes, the best way to move forward with Internet marketing is by taking a cue from the time-tested lessons of the past. If you’d like to see more results from your business website, especially in the form of new leads and sales opportunities, then start using a consistent sales funnel to draw more buyers in.
Kayak has helped dozens of companies to create inbound marketing and lead-generation systems on the Internet. Why not call us today and become our next success story?