Why do I need a Sales Funnel? Why can’t I just run a sale and advertise?
This is a common question, because the process of sales seems like it should be so easy (and salespeople often make it sound that way). The truth is that sales is a delicate process of building and nurturing relationships.
Remember when we discussed the three stages of trust building? It starts with familiarity (unknown becomes known / process of the head). Then it moves to affinity (known becomes liked / process of the heart). Finally, it moves to consistency (liked becomes loved / process of the gut). These three stages don’t happen overnight. They require time and effort.
This is the main reason why high-pressure sales techniques and scarcity tactics are a bad idea. Even if they work, they’re usually a one-and-done kind of deal, because they create a lot of buyer’s remorse. Trusted relationships are what lead to repeat business. Pushing and manipulating your customers into buying has nothing to do with nurture and certainly won’t earn anyone’s trust.
Keeping Your Attitude in Check
In my experience, people who view sales as controlling or manipulating their customers’ behavior fall into two camps – those who make money and those who don’t. The ones that make money usually change jobs a lot, because they work each new clientele aggressively and burn it out fast.
Sales is a numbers game,” they’ll tell you. “People will tell you no all the time. You can’t pay any attention to them. Just keep selling and, if you pitch to enough people, sooner or later someone will buy.
People like this are focused on the payday. They often sell multiple products in multiple markets for multiple companies throughout their careers. They simply can’t stay in one place, because they burn so many bridges. In my opinion, this is like fishing with dynamite. You can blow up the pond once and gather enough fish to eat, but once you’ve blown it up, there’s nothing to come back to.
The people who don’t make money using high-pressure techniques usually don’t last in sales or end up spending their entire careers being abused at the hands of aggressive managers.
You just don’t have the stomach for it. You can’t handle rejection. You just can’t close the deal. You give away too much. You’re not quick on your feet. It doesn’t come naturally to you.
People like this are focused on the process. They work hard to “Stick to the script” and say the right thing at the right time. Their instinct tells them to listen to the customer, but their training says to “control the conversation.” To me this seems like a comedy routine about the irrationality of angry parents. They want to know why their children do things, but snap at them for back-talking when they try to answer.
When you take the time to craft a quality sales funnel you naturally think through the process from your customer’s prospective. The great Cavett Robert once said, “Before your customer sees or your customer buys, you have to see your customer’s problem through your customer’s eyes.” I love this quote, because it rhymes and it’s easy to remember. But also because it helps me to stay focused on the customer’s need. I find that, when I do that, my attitude is one of helpfulness. And helpfulness is what builds the relationships that result in personal referrals and repeat business.
Managing Your Expectations
My friend, Tim says that controlling disappointment is all about managing your expectations. I agree. If I go into every sales opportunity expecting to make a sale and a lot of money, I’m going to be disappointed much of the time. This is mainly because I can’t control whether or not the customer buys.
One of the first rules any salesperson should learn is that the customer always reserves the right to say, “No.” And that little word can quickly mark the end of all discussion. Therefore, we have to consider in advance the objections that he or she is likely to have. This is another function of the Sales Funnel. By working through the likely objections, we can be prepared to offer acceptable solutions.
But is considering objections enough when you can’t control the buying process? Well, it certainly helps, but the real key to managing expectations is focusing on what you can control. In this case, you can control whether the customer’s needs are met. You can listen to what he or she wants and move heaven and earth to make it happen. The funny thing about focusing on meeting your customer’s need is that it usually results in a sale and pretty good money.
Preserving Future Opportunities
Finally, crafting a good sales funnel helps you to preserve future opportunities to sell things to people who didn’t buy this time around. Part of a successful funnel is what I call the recycle system. It is designed to catch people who may fall out of the funnel at any stage and maintain a positive relationship with them by offering more free value.
Let’s say that you are part of my sales funnel and you accepted the free gift I’m offering, but chose not to buy any products. That’s OK, because your name and email address will simply go on a list of folks who didn’t buy this time around. Perhaps you didn’t buy because you need to receive more value first. So, after my current offer is over, I may provide you with more free content on the subject over a period of weeks until I offer that product again.
By continually providing value to you even though you didn’t buy, I have shown that there are no hard feelings and that I’m genuinely interested in your problem. As a result you are likely to still enjoy hearing from me and possibly buy this product or another product in the future. You won’t get results like that from a sale and some spray-and-pray advertising. The recycle system is all about preserving the relationship and the future opportunities that come with it.
This is why I believe that every company needs a Sales Funnel. Our culture has shifted from the low-price, get-it-now mindset of Artisans to the high-quality, do-it-right mindset of Idealists. In two weeks, I will be sharing what I call the Leverage Theory. This theory is based on decades of research and it’s how I’ve learned to tell where business and culture is headed ten, twenty, even sixty years into the future. It will change the way you see the world, so stay tuned.
How do you use Sales Funnels? Share a comment and let’s talk about it.