We talk all of the time about creating sales funnels. But what if you’ve never done it before? What is a sales funnel and how do you create one? Find the answers in this article.
When JB came to his first Oompf Global intensive, he had a very particular goal in mind.
He wanted to take a fresh approach to running his accounting firm. He explained his key challenge:
“You do the same things day in and day out.”
Now, if those things aren’t working, repeating them over and over won’t get you results. It’ll just leave you in the exact same place that you’re in right now.
JB realised this, which is why he signed up for our intensive. And the fresh approach to marketing and sales that he learned with us helped him to transform his accounting firm.
Part of that fresh approach involved creating a new sales funnel.
At Oompf Global, we often talk about the importance of creating and refining your sales funnel. (In fact, filling your funnel is one of the nine superpowers that will help you position yourself as VITAL to your clients.) But if you’re a new firm owner, you may not even know what a sales funnel is!
After all, you spent your career up to this point working as a technician. You didn’t have to worry about finding clients. You just had to make sure you delivered a quality service once your old firm handed them to you.
That all changes when you start your own firm.
You need to create a sales funnel to ensure that you and your people have enough clients to work with. In this article, we explain what a sales funnel is and the various stages that you need to build into it.
What Is a Sales Funnel?
The sales funnel is a simple marketing concept.
It’s simply a mapped-out representation of the journey you intend to take your client on. The funnel encompasses every stage of that journey, from the moment a prospect learns about you to the time they become a client. More complex funnels may even include stages for achieving several sales from the same client.
The funnel analogy comes from what happens to leads as you move them through the process.
For example, let’s say that your marketing team manages to attract 1,000 leads. As those leads move through the funnel, many of them will drop out. Some may decide that you’re not the right firm to help them. Others may not be right for your firm and fail your qualification process.
The point is that those 1,000 leads will get whittled down until you’re left with the few who come out of the funnel. These are people who have identified your firm as the one that can help them. And better yet, you’ve identified them as an ideal client that you want to work with.
A typical sales funnel has five stages, each one explaining where the prospect is in the process. The stages are:
Let’s look at each of these stages and what they mean for you and your prospects.
Stage #1 – Awareness
As the name suggests, this is the stage where a prospect learns about you and your product. At this point, they may only have a vague understanding of the problems that they face. They do not trust you yet. They simply know that you exist.
For example, somebody who’s seen one of your posts on social media for the first time has entered this stage. That post has told them a little bit about you and what you do.
This is the stage where most people drop out of the funnel. That’s because you’re casting an extremely wide net. Many of the people who become aware of you simply have no need for your services.
And that’s okay.
It’s those who move into the next stage that you will focus on.
But, of course, you need to create awareness before anybody can get to the next stage of a funnel. You can do that using a range of techniques, including:
- Buying Google/Facebook ads
- Posting on social media
- Posting articles or content on other people’s websites
- Entering your details into an online directory
- Creating infographics related to your niche
- Engaging in organic SEO to improve your chances of showing up in web searches
- Employing traditional advertising, such as television and radio
It’s all about getting your brand out there and into the public consciousness.
Stage #2 – Interest
So, a bunch of people dropped off at the awareness stage because they didn’t need your services.
What’s left are all of the people who may be able to use what you do. At the interest stage of the funnel, the prospect has identified a specific problem. They’re also actively searching for a solution to that problem.
For example, they may do a Google search for companies that can help them. Or they may join Facebook groups dedicated to their problem. Simply put, they’re looking for answers and want to listen to anybody who can provide those answers.
Now, this person has already heard of your brand and they know that you work within their problem area. That means this stage acts as a research stage for them. They’ll likely visit your website and read some of your articles. They’ll check out your social media profiles and look for any other information they can find out about you.
At this stage, you can start actively engaging with the prospect to feed their interest. For example, a prospect may sign up to receive emails from you. This gives you a chance to send content to them. You can also target them with ads for articles and services that confront the problem they have.
Stage #3 – Evaluation
You have their interest…
But you don’t have them…yet. The prospect knows who you are and what you do. They’ve identified you as a potential problem solver for them.
Now comes a period of evaluation.
Understand that this prospect is in other funnels besides yours. They likely researched several service providers in your niche while they were learning about you. At the evaluation stage, the prospect uses the knowledge they gained in the previous stage to compare providers.
Your job at this stage is to prove to them that you can do what you say you can.
For example, you can leverage testimonials and case studies from happy clients. This provides social proof, which is third-party evidence that you deliver on your promises. A prospect will trust this proof more than they trust your content, because it comes from people in their situation.
Other tools that can move prospects through the evaluation stage include:
- Demonstrations of your product
- Product comparisons
- Transparent pricing
Stage #4 – Decision
This is where the magic finally starts to happen for you.
The prospect has gone through the evaluation and they’re on the verge of deciding to go with your firm. This means they’re checking out your content regularly and they’re fully engaged with what you do.
This is the stage where you start making offers to the prospect. Don’t go off half-cocked and bombard them with offers before they reach this stage.
Up until this point, you’ve aimed to engage and nurture them on their journey through your funnel. Now, they’re ready to go and just need the right offer to stand up and say “yes” to you.
You just have to make sure the right offer gets in front of them.
This may come in the form of an ad that points them to a service-specific landing page. It may be an offer that you make in a webinar. Whatever it is, it needs to give the prospect a clear next step to take, which leads to…
Stage #5 – Action
The prospect knows what they want and what you offer. They’ve evaluated their options and decided that you’re the best choice.
All that’s left is for them to pull the trigger.
The guidance you provided in the previous stages comes into play here. At the action stage, the prospect signs up for your service, thus becoming a client.
And it’s at this stage that many accounting firms make mistakes.
Your job at this stage is not just to accept payment from the client. You need to provide materials and create a strategy for them. You switch your focus to after-care and retention of the client. All of the stages of the sales funnel have led to the creation of this relationship.
Now, it’s up to you to maintain and build upon that relationship!
What Does Your Sales Funnel Look Like?
These are the five stages of a typical sales funnel. Now, not all funnels look exactly like this. Some companies have extra steps, while others may use different names for the stages.
But if you build your funnel based on what you see above, you’re a step closer to being VITAL. You now have a structure to your sales process. From here, it’s a case of sharing the right materials and information to ensure that your prospects move through the funnel.
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