Transcript: What the heck is a Sales Funnel? 

Susanne Rieker: If you don’t really know what a sales funnel is, maybe you have an idea but you’re not sure what it entails, you’re not alone.

I’ve been working in digital marketing for a really long time and didn’t really know what a sales funnel is until I got into all things online business.

In this week’s episode of the podcast I’m going to clear it all up AND teach you how to set up your own sales funnel.

Exciting stuff! Right?

Let’s get started

Okay, so what is a sales funnel… what does it mean.

Simply said, a sales funnel refers to the path customers follow on their way to becoming a customer.

For example in ecommerce. You have a certain amount of people visiting your shop homepage. Then you have less people visiting the product page. Then you have even less people adding the product to their cart. And even less people entering their payment information. And even less people actually clicking buy.

Each of these steps is a phase in a sales funnel. And it’s called a funnel, because, you start with a lot of people, and then you lose some, or a lot, at each step. You filter them out.

Now, in marketing, you look at every step in this funnel and try to improve it. For example, when you lose a lot of people on your sales page, you can test different things to optimize it, like improving the copy, and then see if that actually makes a difference and get more people to click on the add to cart button.

So, this is one way at looking at sales funnels. Looking at every single step and trying to optimize it so you get more people to buy.

Another way to look at sales funnel is to use them to automatically carry your potential customers through each stage with the help of tools.

This means that you don’t have to watch their progress every minute of the day. The dependability of a sales funnel means that leads don’t slip through the cracks.

I mean, just imagine for a moment that you have a blog post or Instagram post that goes viral and suddenly you have thousands of visitors on your website! But you don’t have any sales funnel set up, so all those visitors could simply disappear without ever learning about your offers and how you can help them. You left it to them to find out about this, you didn’t lead them and guide them. You actually did them a disservice, right?

When you have a working sales funnel, it doesn’t mean that you go all salesy and push your products, it means that you have a process to guide your people to the help they need. That’s really all it is.

And if you’re selling something online, for example yoga retreats or private yoga classes or online courses, an automated sales funnel can mean that you earn money in your sleep, or while you’re taking a yoga class or going for a walk at the beach.

I mean, we all would love that, right?

That’s why you need a sales funnel!

And the best news, a sales funnel does not have to be complicated and can be very easy to set up, or you can go more complex. But you don’t have to start out that way.

If this is all way to theoretical for you, fret not my friend, I have some examples coming up.

My first example is for a sales funnel to sell your yoga retreats.

Here’s what you could do.

To help you sell your yoga retreats, you set up an automated email sales funnel.

Step #1: Instead of only adding a “book now” button on your retreat page, give people the option to request a flyer with all the details.

You then deliver the flyer as a downloadable PDF, all automated with your email marketing provider.

They can download it, print it out or share it with a friend. You probably already have all the information that you provide in the flyer on your website, but that doesn’t matter.

And now you have their email address and can follow up, which is step #2 in your sales funnel.

After your first email with the flyer, you follow up with 3-4 emails where you share more information about the retreat, for example your story and testimonials or a video.

This will help to build trust and also, so they don’t forget about your retreat.

And then, if they haven’t signed up yet after let’s say 2 weeks, you follow with step #3 and offer them a special deal that’s only available for a short time, for example a special discount when they sign up in the next 48 hours.

What you’re doing here is taking control of the customer journey. You don’t leave it to chance, you don’t leave your potential customers alone after they’ve seen your retreat. They might like it but decide to think about it and then they forget about your page or don’t have the link anymore.

I mean, who would book a vacation right after seeing it for the first time? You consider it, you compare it, you research flight costs, you share it with a friend or your partner…

By giving them another option beside the book now button, you give them something that feels easier, they don’t have to commit right away, and they have something to look at, print out, and share with their partner or friend.

And you can then stay in touch and gently guide them by providing additional information that might help them come to a purchasing decision, and make sure they don’t forget about you and your offer.

If they don’t sign up, that’s fine, they also can opt out any time.

This isn’t sleazy or salesy, it’s actually making their life easier.

Here’s another example, a sales funnel to sell private yoga classes.

Step #1 in your funnel: you create a landing page where you describe your offer and give people the chance to book a call with you through a form.

In your call you find out what they want and uncover what may be stopping them. You address their objections and line out the possible results, before finally making an offer.

You follow up your offer with an email where you outline the details and a link to a payment form so they can take the next step.

What you can also do, to help you sell more, is to communicate scarcity if it’s real, for example you only have space for two more clients that month. So, you shouldn’t lie here, this is not what this is about, but if it’s real use it to help your potential customers to make a decision and stop them from procrastinating.

This is similar to what I do to sell my website design services. I’m not an expert yet in sales calls, but what I’ve learned is that it’s important to listen more than you speak, especially in the beginning. This is something I’m still working on; I definitely need to improve here myself. I get so excited about a potential project that I can’t stop interrupting and talking myself, and that’s the worst thing you can do. People want to be heard, so let them talk.

I use Calendly for people to book a free discovery call directly in my calendar. I set up my availability in Calendly, mostly on two days of the week, and then people can book a slot that works for them and it’s automatically added to my calendar.

I love this because it makes it really easy for me. Before I set this up it was a lot of emails being sent back and forth before a meeting was set up, a lot of work on my end, and a few people falling through the cracks and not getting back at me. Now they have to make an appointment as the first step, and that means they are already more invested and more liked to show up.

I really love Calendly and I add a link in the shownotes. If you want people to be able to make appointments with you, definitely check it out.

I hope these examples made it more understandable, how sales funnel can work.

Now, the goal is to get as many people as possible into your funnel. Because you lose people at every step of your funnel, which is unavoidable, you need to get more people into it.

Actually, you don’t need as many people as possible, that’s the wrong way to say it, you need the right people. People who would maybe buy your product. And of those people you want as many as possible.

This is an important distinction to make.

Let’s say you’re offering a freebie on your website, something free that people get when they sign up for your email list. Your freebie is so amazing and full of value, it’s a no brainer. For example it’s ten 60-minute long yoga videos, and a workbook, and a meditation class.

So many, many people are signing up for that freebie.

But then you’re offering a paid course and actually no one from those subscribers want to buy your paid product. Why? Because they already got so much value for free from you, why should they pay?

This is just an example, it doesn’t have to be free videos, it could also be something that’s totally unrelated to what you’re offering, for example a recipe book that’s amazing but if you’re trying to sell a meditation course later on this isn’t going to help.

So, if you’re thinking about sales funnels, you want every step to work together. And step #1, which very often is a freebie to get people on your email list, should be related to what you plan to offer later on so you get the right people into your funnel.

To get more people into your funnel, you want to promote your offer as much as possible. On social media, in your email newsletters, maybe even in Facebook ads.

For example, if you want to sell private yoga classes, as in my example I talked about earlier, there are a few different ways to get people into your funnel:

#1 They find you on Google when they search for private yoga in your area. So, you want to optimize your website so that is shows up in search results for this key word.

If you want to learn more about how to do this, listen to episode 9 where I share tips how to get found on Google. It’s episode 9, 5 Proven Strategies to Get Found on Google. Definitely listen to this episode if you haven’t done so yet.

#2 You share your offer in social media posts, and in your newsletter. You should actually do this repeatedly. Don’t just share your offer once and call it a day. Schedule it at least once per week.

I mean, your social media feed shouldn’t be only buy, buy, buy, you want to have some inspirational and helpful content as well, maybe 20% or 25% should be promotional.

But don’t shy away from telling your followers about your offers.

And, #3, is paid advertising, for example Facebook ads. When you’re offering private yoga, you could run targeted ads to people interested in yoga in your town. Or, what also works well if you have a bit off traffic to your website, it to target people who visited your private yoga landing page but didn’t get in touch. So you can set it up that ads get shown to only them, maybe with a 10% discount for your first class offer.

For many sales funnels’ ads are a great way to get people into your funnel, but I recommend starting with organic traffic and making sure that your funnel converts, meaning that people actually buy, before investing into paid advertising.

Because if no one from your social media followers or from your email list buys, why would someone from an ad?

You want to make sure your sales funnel works before spending money on ads.

Which brings me to sales and marketing techniques that you can use in your funnel that will help make your sales funnel more successful.

#1 Connection

When you take the time to connect with someone before you share your offer, you have a much higher chance of converting them into a customer.

And one way to do that is by sharing inspirational stories and building a trust-based relationship before ever considering trying to sell something. This is one of the reasons why I recommend having a blog, or anything else you do where you provide free content and value on a consistent basis.

#2 Time-Limitness

How often have you seen an offer and thought “Oh, that looks interesting”, and then forgot about it?

The thing is, it’s how we humans are wired. We all procrastinate. Even with things that we KNOW would be good for us.

Your job as a marketeer is to help your potential clients stop procrastinating and instead take action.

That’s why you should use sales or unique offers that expire by a certain date.

So when you offer something in your sales funnel, limit its availability and restrict it to a certain timeframe, for example 48 hours.

This is creating urgency and it’ll help people get off the fence and buy now.

I use Deadlinefunnel for this, a tool that allows you to create those countdown timers that show up on sales pages and in emails, and it even does that for every person that comes into my funnel, so everyone gets their own timer depending on when they signed up.

It’s a super cool tool and I’ll share the link in the show notes!

It’s a bit complicated to set up though, so if you don’t feel like figuring this all out by yourself, you can save yourself some time and sign up to my membership program the Blissful Biz Hive. I have a brand-new training on sales funnel in there where I talk you step-by-step through setting up your sales funnel, with copy swipe files for your emails and everything, and you also get tech trainings on how to set up Deadlinefunnel. Go to susannerieker.com/blissfulbizhive to learn more and of course I’ll also add the link to the show notes.

Okay, moving on, strategy #3 is scarcity

Scarcity is when there’s a limited or diminishing quantity of a thing. The scarcer something is, the higher the demand.

If something expires or goes away on a certain firm date, let your audience know. That is authentic urgency and it’ll help people get off the fence and overcome this, “Eh, you know what? Let me wait and think about it,” thing that we all do.

So if you sell private yoga classes and you only have two more spots open, let people know.

#4 Social Proof

Have you ever asked a woman you met in a yoga class or a fellow teacher, “Hey, where did you buy those cute yoga pants?” or “What’s your favorite place for lunch around here?”

And then, based on what they say, you follow their recommendations. Not one hundred percent of the time, of course. But pretty often, right?

We humans are wired to respond to so called “social proof”, or word of mouth recommendation. If someone that you know, like and trust says, “This is awesome! You gotta try it!” then you are way more likely to give it a whirl.

When your visitors read praise from other people – and the praise feels real and genuine – then they are likely to feel more confident about purchasing a workshop or retreat from you.

That’s why you always, always should add testimonials and feedback from your clients on your website and in use them in your sales funnel. Put them on your landing page, in your emails and on your check out page.

Social proof is one of the most powerful marketing tools that you have and it’s all in your control.

#5 Always Have a CTA

What happens quite often is that we mistakenly assume that our potential customers know what we want them to do and we forget to add a CTA or a call-to-action.

The worst case would be having a sales page without a buy now button.

Okay, this is an extreme case, but it happens!

Make sure that you add a call-to-action on every piece of marketing that you put out there.

For example, when you send an email – tell your potential customers what you want them to do. Make it super simple for them and they’re going to love purchasing from you.

Here are some examples:

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What you want to do is to stay focused and use only ONE call-to-action in each piece of communication and use it repeatedly.

Don’t ask them to do different things at the same time, like download a flyer and book now and sign up for a free call with you. This is just going to confuse your potential customers with too many options. Keep it simple.

And there you have it – five marketing strategies to improve your sales funnel!

And as I mentioned before, if you want to learn how to set up your first automated sales funnel, I have a brand-new training on sales funnels in the Blissful Biz Hive where I teach you step-by-step how to set up your sales funnel, with copy swipe files for your emails and everything, and you also get tech trainings on how to set up Deadlinefunnel, set up a welcome email sequence in ConvertKit and more.

Go to susannerieker.com/blissfulbizhive to learn more and to sign up, I’d love to see you inside and support you with this.

You’ll also find the link in the show notes.

Alright, thanks for being here. Have a wonderful day and I’ll talk to you next week. Bye for now.