Do you use a sales funnel?
Do you even know what a sales funnel is? Perhaps you have heard the term ‘sales pipeline’ – well they are pretty much the same thing.
In my view, they are one of the most effective tools you can use to help you win more sales and the good news is that you don’t need a complicated system – a piece of paper, pen and some post-its are really all you require. So let’s have a look at what a sales funnel is and how to use it:
Look at the diagram below. The top of the funnel is wide and, a bit like a sausage machine, this is where you feed in all your potential customers. As you go down through the funnel, your potential customers drop out the side (not interested, no money, something changes) and eventually you are left with a smaller number at the bottom who convert into actual paying customers.
Let’s look at the stages, starting at the top:
This can be pretty much anyone – at this stage you haven’t had any contact with them and you may only know their name or the name of the company.
This is where you start to interact with your potential customers. Perhaps they have visited your website, shop, or seen a leaflet. You may have had a conversation with them and know a bit more information. When a potential customer is in the prospect stage, you really want to find out as much as possible about them so that they can move down into the next stage, which is:
These people or companies have a genuine need for your product or service. Perhaps they have asked for a quote, or have indicated that they want to go ahead and buy. They may not be ready to buy now, but within this category you can then subdivide them into ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ leads, depending on how close they are to making a decision.
Customers can be defined as anyone who has either actually paid you or committed to purchase from you. Once you have got someone to convert to a customer, you should ensure you maintain high levels of service as these are far more likely to use you again than anyone else.
Final note. I use post-it notes because they can be instantly moved around the funnel as you lose them or develop them through the stages. The best tools are simple to use and this is a perfect example. Good funnelling!
Janet is based in Enfield, north London and trains small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. She has recently reached the final of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management’s national awards (BESMA 2016) in the category of Sales Trainer of the Year and, in November 2015 won ‘Start up Business of the Year’ at the Enterprise Enfield Business Awards.
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