4 Factors that Make a Sales Funnel Work

by Joe Fontenot

4 Factors that Make a Sales Funnel Work

A sales funnel is a part of your marketing. It’s a series of steps that finds your ideal clients and moves them to the point of purchasing.

There is a lot of advice about how to build your sales funnel. But the truth is, there’s not one right way. It’s contextual based on your situation.

But that still leaves you with the problem: what element should you include?

A sales funnel looks like this:

At the top, your message is reaching a lot of people–a good number of which are not interested in your product. This is the masses, where your target audience will reside. Next down, you home in on your actual target audience, or potential customers. Eventually these potential customers will take an action. This may be in the form of a click on a digital ad or signing up for an email. But at this stage it doesn’t need to be monetary.

If your product costs a lot of money, the next step is to get those who’ve taken action to take a further action, to make a small buy. This may not make a difference to your bottom line, but it helps you segment: who is really interested in your product, and who is just here for free stuff.

Finally, some will become a customers. And, if you’ve build the right systems, they become a repeat customer. This is the very bottom of the funnel.

But what actually moves people from the top down to the point of purchasing?

4 factors that make a sales funnel work

1. Downward forces

Each step is connected to the one above it. But it’s connected for a reason. What moves someone from the masses into your target market segment? They saw something you offered that mattered to them. What causes a person to give up their hard earned cash to buy your product? Because the value they get in return is worth more dollars than what they’re giving you.

As you build your funnel, think about what specific truth is going to move your audience down each step of the funnel.

2. Having the right target audience

If you’ve built the perfect funnel for moms with preschoolers, but you’re putting it in front of legislators in Washington, then you’re probably not going to see much success. Your product (and thereby your funnel) is not aligned with your target audience.

When you create a Facebook ad or record your podcast, make sure it’s finding its way to your target audience. If you’re expending energy or money toward the wrong audience, then you’re not helping yourself. They’re not interested.

3. Meeting a real need

If you are talking to the right people (congrats), you need to be offering them something they need. And what’s more, it has to be something they feel.

There are two ways to do this. You can tap into a need they already feel. A dad on a business trip in a new city is probably looking to pick up something to bring back to his kids. If you can offer him that, then you’ve got a good shot at a sale.

The second way is by raising a feeling. As a thirty-something, you may not be interested in saving for retirement, but the savvy investment manager will show you how difficult it will be to start saving once you feel the need. And then he’ll show you how affordable (and easy) it can be to start saving today.

4. Communication

Good communication always matters. If your audience is quirky and clever, or reserved and academic, then you should tweak your tone to fit them. But if you’re not communicating clearly, then it doesn’t matter.

If you’re not communicating clearly to your potential customer why they should click your ad, then, mostly likely, they won’t. Or, if you have a nurturing email campaign with helpful information, but no clear link to your services, then what’s going to push them to making that jump?

StoryBrand is a great resource here. They help brands large and small walk through process of clarifying their message to reach more customers. (Full disclosure, I’m one of their certified guides, licensed to walk you through the process. You can learn more about that here.)

BONUS: No skipping

Here’s a bonus factor: you can’t skip steps.

It’s like gravity. Wherever you go, it’s a factor. In space it’s a small factor. On Earth it’s a bigger one. But it’s always around.

Each business model looks a little different. For some companies, one or two of these steps might be combined with another. But the concept behind each will still be there.

Knowing why a sales funnel works is paramount to building a sales funnel that actually does work.

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