A Guide To Creating An Automated Salesperson For Your Business
For any small business or entrepreneur, a sales funnel is one of the most important marketing tools for your business. And yet many entrepreneurs – both new and established – don’t have a clear understanding of what a funnel is or how it works. Thankfully, it’s not rocket science and knowing what is and how to use it in your marketing can mean higher sales.
Imagine your basic, plastic funnel…that thing that takes up space in your kitchen and probably doesn’t get used often. At the top, you might pour in a liquid that then filters down and trickles out the small end.
A sales funnel is similar and maps out your customer’s journey from awareness to making a purchase. Unlike your kitchen funnel above, not all of the potential customers that enter at the top end of your sales process will come out the end and make a purchase.
A Simple Sales Funnel
At its most basic, a sales funnel consists of free content, which typically requires nothing of your readers. Many sales funnels begin with blog posts, YouTube videos, Facebook content, and other information readers can access at no cost. The top of your funnel is the awareness phase where potential customers get to know you.
Next, you’ll need an attractive offer that requires a very small “payment” of sorts – typically an email address. You’ve seen this type of offer on websites all over the internet, and probably even signed up for some. This is the free ebook or guide, video series, checklist, workbook, or other valuable content that is available in exchange for “opting in” to your email list. This is the Interest phase or the “I like what I’ve learned so far and want more”.
Once on your mailing list, you’ll then present your readers with a series of low-cost offers. Perhaps you have a low-priced ebook or a trial membership. Giving your potential customers a chance to try your services before committing to a higher-priced offer. This is the decision phase.
Customers who purchase your low-priced product move further down the funnel, and are presented with more, higher-priced offerings. This is the action phase. As they continue to buy, they move closer and closer to your top-end offers, which make up the bottom of your funnel.
How Your Funnel Works
Let’s go back to thinking about that kitchen funnel. If you imagine your sales funnel looks like, well, a funnel, it’s easy to see that your free content—at the top—is consumed by the largest number of readers. Below that, your extreme low-cost item (available only for the cost of an email address) attracts a smaller subset of the true freebie seekers. Next, your low-priced offering brings in yet a smaller group.
Finally, as you near the tip of the funnel, only the most loyal of fans and customers will purchase your highest priced offers.
Your job, as a business owner, is to ensure that your funnel leads buyers naturally from the top, free offers all the way to the bottom. The more buyers you can keep in your funnel, the more money you will make.
Most new—and even established—business owners can easily envision the top of the funnel, but if you truly want your business to grow, you must master the entire process, and that starts with understanding what a funnel really is and how it works.
Tools for Building Your Sales Funnels
Ready to start building out your sales funnels? There are just a few things you need before you can get started. Here are some of the most popular options when it comes to putting together both free and paid funnels.
- Lead Pages—when it comes to building opt-in pages, LeadPages.net is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal. They’ve tracked and tested a variety of page styles to determine which ones convert best, and they make it easy for you to build similar pages for your funnel.It does come with a monthly fee, though, so before investing, you’ll want to be sure you can recoup your investment.
- FREE! Instabuilder—similar to LeadPages, but without the monthly investment. Instabuilder is a plugin for WordPress that allows you to create your own funnels. It includes several funnel templates and a drag-and-drop page builder that makes it easy to get just the look you want.
- AWeber—Probably the easiest email manager on the market today, AWeber is the choice for many small business owners, not only because it’s simple to use, but because it’s also economical. Starting at less than $20 per month for up to 500 subscribers, AWeber offers both autoresponders and broadcast emails, list automation, and segmenting, so you can send emails exactly when—and to whom—you want.
- AW Pro Tools—an add-on to AWeber, AW Pro Tools gives you added control over your list management by automatically removing unsubscribes, moving subscribers from one list to another based on the link they click, and other useful automation.
- PayPal—The simplest of all payment processors, PayPal allows you to take payments online for a very reasonable fee. It will also act as a simple shopping cart.
- Infusionsoft—Probably the top tool for any business model, Infusionsoft is an all-in-one solution for customer management, funnel setup, mailing list, and even membership sites. It’s priced at the high end, but if you can (and will) use all its power, then Infusionsoft is well worth the investment.
You can see that you have a lot of options when it comes to building out your sales funnels, but what are the must-have items?
At the most basic level, you must have:
✓ A way to create web pages. A simple WordPress website will fill this need, with a little bit of work. LeadPages or Instabuilder are nice to have, but not essential, especially if you’re just getting started.
✓ A way to capture email addresses. AWeber is definitely a top choice here, but others include MailChimp (they have a FREE! plan depending on your # of subscribers and feature needs), Constant Contact, iContact, or ConvertKit.
✓ A shopping cart. PayPal is as easy as it gets when it comes to shopping carts, but other options include WP Easy Cart, WooCommerce, Infusionsoft, or Shopify.
I recommend you start small. Build the funnel framework as simply as you can, using tools that don’t cost a fortune. Once you have a few funnels up and running, you will be able to see where they can use improvement, and how the tools available to you can help make your funnels convert better and work more efficiently.
What has worked best for you to attract clients and get them moving through your funnel? Or, still a bit confused about your sales funnel. Let me know in the comments below.