When sales and marketing people talk about the sales funnel, they are really talking about the number of prospects they have that MAY convert to sales. This is a pretty common term in these circles and there is a fairly well defined process of qualification that moves suspects to prospects to qualified buyers to lifelong customers. It's important for all business owners to understand this process - even if they aren't involved in the sales process directly - as they will be able to better support their sales professionals in acquiring new business.
Using The Sales Funnel To Turn Suspects into Lifelong customers
The first thing to consider is just who your target market is and to recognize that not everyone will become your customer. This is important as you can spend a lot of time, energy and money trying to convert the 'wrong' person.....
Understanding exactly who your ideal client is will make the conversion process easier and far more cost effective.
The second thing to understand is that people tend to only buy from people (or businesses) that they know, like and trust. Therefore, you need to help your client develop a level of trust so that they are comfortable in spending money with you.
Developing that level of trust may take time to achieve, however during the process your suspect may become a qualified buyer and provide a reasonable level of income for your business. If they don't - then they are not your target market.
A suspect may touch your business by walking in the door of your bricks and mortar store, phoning you or visiting your website. When a suspect 'touches' your business you have the opportunity to determine whether they are a prospect or not.
In an online business, when someone visits your website, they'll take a quick look at what you're doing and generally move on. They may be interested in what you have and consider revisiting the site later - if they remember. In a large number of cases, they forget about your site and buy from the most convenient site at the time. The 'trick' for businesses here is to encourage your suspects to revisit and remind them that your site is around...
A proven method to achieve this is to create a mailing list - of your website visitors - where you trickle feed information to your site visitors and encourage them to visit again. By providing information to your mailing list prospects, you should also be taking the opportunity to allow your prospect to get to Know You, Like You and Trust You. Yes, it can be a slow process - but well worth the effort in the long run.
To encourage site visitors to join your mailing list - you need to offer something of value to them in exchange for their details. People are very savvy - they know that if they are going to give you their contact details, they will receive promotional material from you. Therefore, you need to make it 'worth their while' to give you their details. It is also an great opportunity for you to start allowing your 'prospects' to Know You, Like You and Trust You. Something of value to your suspects differs with each niche - as a marketer, you need to determine what that is. A simple 'newsletter with free advice' is not likely to do the trick however, a free 5 page report that offers advice that can be acted upon immediately may....