I’m sure we’re all familiar with the idea of a marketing or sales funnel. It’s a common metaphor for the journey we want people to take with our businesses – leads get poured in at the top like water, then pass through the focused piping of our sales process, before running out the bottom as satisfied customers. Then we recycle them by repeating this process with new offers!
Sounds wonderfully simple, doesn’t it? In practice, however, things rarely go so smoothly. Let’s say that your business is spending thousands making sure that you’ve got plenty of leads coming in at the top of your funnel, only to find a sad little trickle of sales dribbling out at the other end. Somewhere along the way you must have sprung a leak. But where?
It only takes a tiny crack in your sales pipeline for good prospects to start draining away. Unless you know exactly where to look, you’re likely to waste precious time and resources trying to find it – and meanwhile a drought’s setting in, and your business is starting to feel parched…
Everyone’s sales funnel is unique to their business, but there are common parts of the process where the risk of losing leads is especially high. In this article, I’m going to help you find those leaky spots in your business and show you how to stop them up, boosting your conversion rates and keeping up a nice steady flow of new customers.
1: Are you capturing the right details?
Let’s start at the top of the funnel, the point where prospects first encounter your business. You’ve spent a lot of time and resources on SEO, social media, blogs, digital ads and other forms of off and online marketing to attract their attention, but it still feels like leads are slipping through your fingers. What’s going wrong?
There’s one simple step you can take to address this problem, though you’ll be amazed by how many businesses overlook it: make sure you’re capturing the details of every lead that enters your sales funnel. I don’t just mean recording their contact details, although that’s a good start. I’m talking about the granular information that will allow you to tailor their customer journey to their specific needs.
For example, let’s say that the first step a lead takes on their journey with your business is to take an online quiz about their consumer preferences. If you set up a Facebook pixel on the relevant page, you’ll be able to see at a glance which of your leads have taken the quiz. Those who haven’t can be sent a reminder, those who have can receive more detailed information about your offering, or be invited to book a discovery call.
This way, you ensure you’re serving content that’s directly relevant to the experience of every lead, boosting engagement and reducing the chances of boring them or wasting their time.
2: Are you following up?
So, you’ve got your leads to the point where they’re showing an initial interest in your offering – but what are you doing to convert that interest into a sale? Are you following up with useful, relevant information, or are you allowing them to go cold? Remember, your potential customers are actively looking for a solution, and if they don’t feel like you’re working to provide it they’ll take their search elsewhere.
Whatever you’re doing to engage your prospects – a questionnaire, a download, a webinar, an email sequence – you should always have a plan for how you’ll follow it up. What this looks like will vary depending on what kind of business you’re running. If you’re a consultant, then your next step may be to get your prospects onto a discovery call; if you’re an appointment-based service, like a dentist, it could be time for a virtual consultation.
Prospects should never be wondering about the next step. Make sure your customer journey is clearly signposted, and that follow-ups are carried out in a timely manner. Automation can be a great help with this!
3: When are you making your offer?
When it comes to making your offer, timing is everything. If you try to close the deal too quickly, your prospects may feel like you’re rushing them towards a sale. This can make it seem like you’re not interested in understanding their needs, or you’re trying to paper over a weakness in your proposal. On the other hand, if you leave it too late then they might start to feel like you’re not really invested in winning their business.
The key to getting this right is to track their engagement with the content you’ve been serving them. How many blogs are they reading? How many lead magnets are they downloading? How many emails are they clicking through on? If you have this data, then you’ll know exactly when they’re ready to listen to a concrete offer.
Remember, though, that the buyer’s cycle will vary wildly from business to business. If you’re providing a high-ticket service, you’ll need to spend longer building up familiarity and trust before it’s time to pop the question!
4: What is your post-sale process?
Having just delivered a great product or service to a satisfied client, your next priority should be to figure out how to get them back into your sales funnel, ready to become a repeat customer and, eventually, a raving fan.
Make time during your sales call to book in a follow-up with your customer, even if this is just an email. This will show you’re serious about forming a long-term relationship and open to receiving feedback, while also giving you the opportunity to direct them towards other products or services that may be of interest.
Your post-sale processes should be as carefully planned and scheduled as any other part of your pipeline. There’s nothing worse than digging around in your “Sent” folder for the last message you sent to an old client, so make sure you’ve got templates and email sequences ready to go, just as you would if you were nurturing a lead.
5: Are you getting reviews and referrals?
So, let’s say you’ve built a really efficient sales funnel that is regularly converting customers into repeat users and raving fans. They love what you do and are ready to shout about it! How do you leverage this enthusiasm to your benefit?
Well, the first step in any advanced referral strategy is deceptively simple – just ask! If your customers truly believe in the quality of the experience you’ve provided, they’ll be happy to recommend you to their network. When you deliver the same great service to their peers, it makes them look good too, so it’s win-win all round!
You should also not be afraid to solicit reviews and testimonies, even if this means receiving negative feedback. Fair criticism should be viewed as an opportunity, not just to fix whatever went wrong for that particular customer, but to transform their opinion about you. There’s no better feeling in business than converting a stubborn naysayer into an advocate for your company!
In a leaky sales funnel, leads are constantly being lost through inefficiencies, putting more and more pressure on your marketing operation. If you’re able to plug those gaps, however, you can create a virtuous cycle, where each sale generates new business in the form of repeat customers and referrals.
Remember, leads are like water – they follow the path of least resistance! If you aren’t providing a smooth channel for them to flow down, they can easily be redirected into someone else’s bucket. If you don’t want this to happen to your business, then book a discovery call with us today! Together, we’ll pinpoint the cracks in your pipeline and figure out the best way to keep the new business flowing.