Sales is the lifeblood of any business, regardless of the product or service that comes with it – because if you’re not making sales, you’re not making money. So it stands to reason that increasing your sales should be one of, if not the most important of priorities if you want to continue running a successful business.
Small-businesses and Start-ups especially often don’t have the capital (or time) to throw at large scale marketing campaigns or even to hire specific agencies which is why it’s so important for these businesses to set up a defined sales funnel that will make the most out of every opportunity – instead of falling into the all too tempting trap of ‘spraying and praying.’
Setting up a budget sales funnel doesn’t have to be difficult and we’re hoping to prove that with this guide. We’re going to take you through the sales funnel formula used by Moby Siddique, Head of Strategy at RedPandas Digital as an effective example of a sales funnel that is relatively inexpensive to implement and easy to maintain.
Because early stage businesses are unlikely to have two separate teams handling both sales and marketing Moby uses the term “Sales Funnel” as an umbrella term to incorporate both acquisition (marketing) and the end goal (sales) for prospective customers.
The first phase of setting up any sales funnel is recognising the phases a consumer goes through when they buy something. Here’s a handy diagram to get us into the consumer’s shoes:
Step 1 – Keyword Research
While it might seem a bit mundane, it is imperative to do substantial research on what your consumers are searching for, what your competitors are listing for as well as just general keywords associated with your product or service. It is important to keep it simple, (we’re going to use Moby’s example of ‘laser eye surgery’) with this done, you can progress to adding descriptors like ‘guide’, ‘common’, ‘questions’, ‘reviews’ or ‘problems’ to your original topic.
Some tools that will help you do this are: Google Keywords, Answerthepublic.com or Moz (paid).
The purpose of this is to aggregate a list of the most searched for issues or topics, the aim being to find out what consumers think is most important when it comes to your product. Continuing with the laser eye surgery example, do people search more frequently for things like price or risks associated with the product? Are they comparing prices to competitors or are they doing research on potential clinics?
From this very basic data you can quickly create a spreadsheet with all of the dominant themes you are seeing from your research.
Here’s a quick example Moby uses with his Laser Eye Surgery case study:
Step 2 – Forums are your friend
Now it’s time to start getting a bit deeper into the psyche of your consumer. Using the key themes that you have just noted down start searching through online forums for more information, using the themes you’ve found in your initial research as a basis.
What you’re essentially looking for here are the concerns or questions people have regarding your topic. A quick tip to do this efficiently is to using the keyboard shortcut CRTL + F to search for both your keywords plus ‘?’ to get the best results (it will also show you how many times your keyword has been mentioned – which can be a good indicator of how popular it’s usage is).
“The Devil is in the Detail.”
Jot your results down and file away any particularly interesting threads or pages that you find value in. Moby’s tip here was to ‘go wide and deep’ in your search – some particular topics may be buried beneath others which can be easily missed if you’re only skimming the surface.
Popular forums to check out are Reddit, Quora, Whirlpool or Industry Forums. However, if you’re struggling to find useful content here then googling your topic + ‘forum’ can be a great way to find these resources. While a bit time consuming, doing this research will pay dividends for your future sales funnel because the closer you know your product and what people are looking for, the better results you will have. The devil is in the detail.
Step 3 – Using YouTube
Did you know that YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world? Why not use it? And we don’t just mean watching videos, but actually reading the comments. Are there ‘how to’ videos about your topic? If so, the comments in these can be a veritable goldmine of information as often the comment section can become an impromptu discussion board for that topic which is full of insights.
Step 4 – Find it in the Amazon
So, you’ve trawled every online forum imaginable about your topic – where do you go from there? The answer is books. Before you say ‘that’s so 20th century’, consider this: anyone can publish a blog but only a small minority of people can have material worthy enough to be published. So think about the amount of great information you’ll find in books published about your topic – it might be worth the small investment getting it off Amazon or perhaps you might already have some literature lying around. In any case, even if you don’t end up buying a book or two at least have a look at what topics authors are writing about because this can be another key indicator of what people are looking for in regard to your topic.
In any case, even if you don’t end up buying a book or two at least have a look at what topics authors are writing about because this can be another key indicator of what people are looking for in regard to your topic.
A great tip from Moby on using Amazon was that it’s very easy to see what people liked about the content in the books as well as how many people found it helpful – all important information to add to your growing list.
Step 5 – Dominant Themes
From the information you now have, it’s time to start condensing all the information have into easily distinguishable themes (see below for Moby’s example).
With this done, it’s time to mark out which themes stand out the most.
Step 6 – Distribution and Promotion: The Nitty Gritty
Marketers generally find themselves caught between the two camps of Inbound and Outbound marketing. However, a good sales funnel should involve both.
Traditionally, the two main options we have used to advertise our businesses online have been Google’s Adwords and Facebook – a powerful duopoly whose main benefit is the vastness of their audiences and astronomical traffic. If you have ever used these services before, was it as a part of a greater strategy or did you just throw money at it and hope for the best? This seems to be an all too common theme with businesses.
Moby suggests using the Hub and Spoke model, a strategy that revolves around a single, focal piece of content which forms the basis for all the other content you release. This could be an e-book, a video, a website or anything else that features content (and specifically, content that your consumer would want to read).
Once you have this as your ‘hub’, you can then create the ‘spokes’, these being ten or so ancillary pieces of content that can be anything from ads to small videos or even articles. The point is that all of this content features a hook back to your original ‘hub’ where the consumer can get more information about that topic. These ‘spokes’ also start to answer some questions about the product or service that you would have found in your research.
In sales and marketing the three touch-point rule is a maxim to live by:
a prospective consumer will need at least three touch-points with your product/brand before they will even consider using your service.
Here’s Moby’s example of what this model would look like in a real-life situation using an e-book:
Note: That this example features an e-book as the ‘hub’ but yours can be any other medium – as long as it fits your product and it provides value to your consumers.
Step 7 – Time to Automate
So now you have all the tools and ingredients to craft a sales funnel and you know which direction you want to take it – what now?
Marketing automation can provide you with three key benefits:
- Automates marketing activity based on user triggered behavior.
Simple e.g. abandoned cart emails
- Bubbles warmest leads to the top of a sales person’s list (where human contact is required) based on Lead Warmth
- Has integrated tools: email, landing pages, forms, lead pop-up capture
And if you were wondering how a Lead Warmth metric would look like…
There a few main options available when it comes to setting up your automated sales funnel.
Option 1: Hubspot
Pros: Easy to set up and maintain – includes a blogging platform, strong analytics, social media tool and much more.
Cons: Expensive to operate
Price: $1,050 /month
Option 2: Active Campaign
Pros: Relatively cheap to operate
Cons: Requires more configuration than Hubspot, less options to choose from.
Price: $149 /month
Here’s an example of what a successful sales funnel process would look like using Moby’s eye surgery example.
And that’s it! You now have all the tools you need to build your very own effective sales funnel which will no doubt place you well ahead of your competition.
A big thanks to Moby Siddique from RedPandas Digital for lending his expertise to this guide!