Get ready, I’m about to reveal what I really think of sales and marketing funnels – no holds barred. I break down the biggest misconceptions and benefits of sales funnels. Wondering if you really need a sales funnel? This is the post for you!
Have you ever seen a conversation happen online that made you stop everything you’re doing just to say “What the eff!?”
Yep, me too. In fact, it happened to me recently… and it’s the whole reason I sat down to write you this blog post.
Here’s what happened:
I’m a part of a private Facebook group that’s packed to the gills with awesome women business owners from around the world. It’s a great spot to chit chat, get advice, and swap war stories.
But on this particular day, a thread about sales funnels — i.e. a series of offerings and emails ultimately designed to lead your ideal client to an end result, like a sale, or booking a discovery session call, etc. — went in a totally unexpected direction. (Unexpected to me, at least.)
One woman was sharing a story about her struggles with funnels, and a number of women were commenting about how relieved they were to have pared back their business by removing the sales funnels that they’d been using.
There were a bunch of comments, with people saying stuff like, “Yeah, I hate funnels too.”
All I could think was: Wait. Hang on a minute. WTF?!?
It really confused me for a bit.
Why are all these women so down on sales funnels?!
Did funnels spit in their green juice or something?!
How exactly was a strategy that’s created so much cash flow for so many entrepreneurs currently zapping the energy and morale of so many women coaches, creatives and solopreneurs?
Surely the whole point of having a funnel is to have them be set-it-and-forget-it money-making systems, right?
So I sat and mulled it over. And mulled some more.
Funnels have been a hot marketing topic of the past few years, and I’m getting the sense we all have a bit of “funnel fatigue”.
Maybe you’ve just heard too much about them, or tried to set one up and got overwhelmed, or didn’t see results from the funnel you did manage to put together.
Whatever might be causing funnel aversion – I want to take a second to stand up and say: funnels are STILL awesome.
But this thread signalled to me that there are a few huge misconceptions about funnels making the rounds, and I want to break ‘em down right here, right now.
Because in my experience? Marketing and sales funnels can be really game-changing for your business, and take things to another level.
Misconception #1: “Funnels = a sleazy marketing tactic”
Many entrepreneurs I meet who are really down about funnels and relieved to not have anything to do with them, seem to have been steamrolled by sleazy, smarmy, marketing “gurus” who’ve been telling us that funnels need to be a particular way.
These types of digital teachers also have a tendency to share photos of themselves next to really expensive cars and talk about their work and their clients in a very disparaging way, which implies they’re taking advantage of vulnerable people.
If people like that have made you hate funnels… I really don’t blame you.
The maths checks out: Smarmy marketing guy + Marketing tactic = Smarmy marketing guy marketing tactic.
But here’s the thing: I don’t think that marketing funnels, or sales funnels, have to be sleazy or smarmy AT ALL. In fact, they can be massively powerful, positive, genuine and nourishing for your readers.
I’ll dive more into why in a second.
BTW this month I’m hosting a free, live training where I’m spilling the beans on My Biggest Launch Mistakes And How To Avoid Them. Launches are the ultimate funnel, and super intimidating for so many of us… but when you get them right they can be absolutely game-changing. If you’ve been toying with the idea of launching something (your coaching program!, your ecourse!, a book!) this year, you will love LOVE this special training! Click the button below to come along. We’re gonna have so much fun!! PS It’s totally free!
Misconception #2: “Funnels are soulless, robotic sales machines that lack the human element.”
Let’s hark back to those sleazy marketing dudes who take photos with private jets and Bentley’s, laughing about how rich they are, and how much money they’ve made, pitching funnels.
That may be the first thing you think of when you think “sales funnels”. And yep, that’s definitely not very soulful… nor is it very respectful or compassionate. When people talk about their funnel strategy in a way that emphasises how much money they make for so little work? It’s icky because it sounds like they’re only in it for themselves.
However! There’s a different way to do things.
In fact, I found that when you do them right, the best funnels can actually help you build incredible relationships with your potential clients. It’s a great way to help you take those relationships to another level, and have people in your community feeling incredibly valued and understood. It’s a wonderful way to give your peeps a taste of working with you, and decide that you’d be an awesome person to work with.
And when you’ve got that going on? Your funnels can actually bump up the soul of your business, instead of making you feel like a robot.
I promise: Done right your funnel could make the Internet a better place!
Misconception #3: “I don’t have a sales funnel yet, and I don’t have time to build one.”
Here’s the thing: It’s very likely that you have a sales funnel in your business right now.
A sales funnel does not need to be online. In fact, the idea of sales and marketing funnels has existed since looong before digital marketing.
In fact, for my entire career in private enterprise and consulting, we’ve always spoken about “the funnel”.
A sales funnel is, at its core, just the sequence of steps, or the journey, that your potential clients go through. As people move through your funnel, they can move from unaware, to interested, to ready to buy, if they’re the perfect fit. (Or they might also decide, as they move through your funnel, that it isn’t a good fit, and working together isn’t for them right now. Which is also a-OK!)
So think of it like this:
- If you personally invite people to discovery calls and close the sale on the call? That’s a sales funnel.
- If you’re at an event and give people your card, send them a personal email, and invite them to work with you? That’s a sales funnel.
And I bet it doesn’t feel gross or robotic, does it.
“Well that’s cool, Kate”, you might be thinking. “But does my business actually need a funnel?”
As you’re a member of this here Betty Means Business community, I suspect your #1 focus is on helping people, and your business may be fairly personality driven. For example, you may be a coach, creative, blogger, consultant, freelancer, etc.
And for brands like that? Funnels have some huge benefits. Let me explain:
Benefit #1: Great sales funnels actively help you build relationships (with leads, people in your community and potential clients).
Why? Because sales funnels, when you do them right, can be a way to genuinely help people before they even work with you. Not just in terms of deciding whether or not you’re a good fit together, but also in terms of sharing gold and providing free value for people.
Benefit #2: Funnels help you share value with your audience for free.
That gives me all the warm fuzzies. This ability to share the right kind of content, with the right people, at the right time, can really make a huge impact.
… And that’s something really great sales funnels can do.
Benefit #3: Funnels work for you 24/7.
That means you don’t need to be clutching your laptop 40+ hours a week, responding to emails, or timing when to send out different things, or creating special content for people over, and over, and over again.
An automated sales funnel, and particularly an online one, helps you leverage your content by delivering it to anyone who puts their hand up, so you can be helping people all the time. How awesome is that?
Benefit #4: Over time, funnels let you benchmark your results so you can predict sales, income, list growth, and more.
You guys, this is a very big deal.
For example, let’s say you have a free ebook that you offer. Maybe you create a landing page to catch sign-ups.
Once you’ve put that out there, and enough traffic has gone through, you will have a benchmark of what the conversion rate is on that little funnel that you’ve set up.
What does that mean? That you’ll actually be able to predict future results based on past results. And predictability in your business is the Holy Grail for so many entrepreneurs.
While this was an example of a very simple marketing strategy, the same thing applies with a more complex launch or sales funnels, where the conversion item is a sale (as in, money coming into your business, and money coming into your bank account!). The longer you have the funnel set up, and the more people are rolling through it? The better off you’ll be, and the more you can predict.
And there’s nothing in this world quite as awesome as having predictable income as a business owner.
Benefit #5: Funnels are scalable.
So once you create one, and you benchmark the results and feel able to confidently predict future results, you can start scaling it — meaning, for example, directing more traffic through to your funnel, which in turn would generate more conversions.
Once you have a funnel in place, don’t just let it sit there. Give it some love! Every quarter – or even more frequently – review what’s going well/not well so you can optimise your funnel and scale up.
When you’ve got a sales funnel in place that’s going really well? That can change everything. More subscribers, more sales, more of whatever you wish can come to you just by increasing traffic to that funnel. (Notice I didn’t say by working more!)
The bottom line is this, babe: Every business can benefit from funnels.
But they have to be the right kind of funnels. Not soulless, not cookie cutter, and not cash-grabby. Instead focus on creating funnels that genuinely help people, and build awesome relationships with your community and potential clients.
Building out your funnel is a really killer opportunity to let your personality shine through, and to be able to share your unique story and message, and help people (while also growing and scaling your business).
If you don’t have one built right now — this is definitely something to get onto.
To help you do just that, I’ll be sharing a heap more information about different funnels this month. And I’m also hosting a brand new no-cost training all about the Biggest Launch Mistakes I’ve Made And How To Avoid Them.
Click the button below to join me – we’ll have a blast together!
PS I’ve got you, girl, it’s totally free!