Are you clear on the marketing system/sequence you use to generate ideal leads?
I recently saw a report that said 68% of B2B businesses don’t have a clear picture of their sales funnel (or sales pipeline). I haven’t found any similar stats for B2C entities, but I imagine it’d be fairly similar. Seriously, WTF?! No wonder so many of us feel anxiety about how we’ll consistently attract ideal leads!
So what is a sales funnel/sales pipeline? It’s your approach to attracting, sorting, analyzing and engaging with leads. When you map it out, it’s a visual representation of the sales journey your potential clients experience with you.
Think of a physical funnel – it’s wider at the top and smaller at the bottom (btw, a sales funnel or sales pipeline can also be drawn left to right, which always feels more natural for me personally).
(BTW, I define ‘leads’ as our potential clients.)
You see, when you’re not clear on your marketing process for generating leads, the whole thing can feel hugely chaotic, overwhelming and mighty stressful.
Especially if your biz is in it’s first 12 – 24 months, without a consistent stream of fresh ideal leads, growing your (and staying in!) business can be seriously tough.
In fact, my take is that if you offer 1:1 services (or high-end 1 to many services), a flow of ideal prospects nominating themselves as interested in having a Discovery Session with you is CRUCIAL to your biz success.
Sales funnels help us focus our attention on our strongest leads. Done well, funnels can also be extremely useful when it comes to gathering important info to help make biz decision (for example to refine our marketing messages or shape our offers). And, if you track your results over time, funnels can also help us predict likely future results (and let’s get real, that type of predictability is the holy grail for most entrepreneurs).
Planning out your funnel will help you: get clear on your goals for each step, see the relationship between each step/stage, and help you pick the best tactics to use.
There are lots of different types of sales funnels/pipelines, and settling on the right one(s) for you depends entirely on your desired call(s) to action, ideal clients, strengths, biz model brand values, stage in your potential client’s life cycle and marketing budget.
I totally get that (just like split testing, analytics, conversion tracking…) sometimes these types of marketing concepts can feel beyond us. But I promise, your sales funnel/pipeline doesn’t need to be complicated to be outrageously effective.
Here are 3 simple examples to inspire you to map out your own sales funnel:
1. You can include an email (or a number of emails!) inviting your new newsletter subscriber to apply for a Discovery Session as part of a sequence of welcome emails you send.
2. You could create a limited time promotion inviting people on your subscriber list to apply for a Discovery Session.
3. You could include an opportunity to apply for a Discovery Session on the thank you page that people see once they’ve opted in for your lead magnet.
To be clear, these examples represent birds-eye-view snapshots. That means, for example, that each box might, in fact, involve a series of emails or mini-steps over a pre-specified amount of time.
And remember, the right funnel for you will be customized to your ideal clients, strengths, biz model brand values, and marketing budget.
// A couple of other thoughts:
From time to time I see articles from well-known internet marketers claiming “the funnel is dead.”
My take is this: those claims are just sensationalism to get your attention and buy their latest system or sequence.
Sure, specific strategies, tactics, tools and sequencing might change (and market leaders in all industries consistently experiment and innovate to optimize and differentiate themselves as market leaders). But… In the 15+ years I’ve studied professional communication and been in biz, having a series of steps through which you nurture and engage your audience, that over time reveals your most likely higher-end clients has always existed in some form.
Getting clear on your unique lead generation marketing system is relevant whether your biz is entirely online, entirely offline, and everything in between. Funnels have been around for waaay longer than the interwebs (I know, I know, I find it hard to believe anything existed pre-internet too).
If you’re one of the 68%, I really hope this article has inspired you!
YOUR ACTION ITEM :: Map out (and implement!) your sales funnel now.