How to Double Your Business with Sales Funnels
No matter what it is you’re trying to sell on the web, a sales funnel is the
number one way to do it. This is the most systematic way to build trust, to
build a relationship and to encourage people to want your brand before
making a sale – and it is incredibly powerful when done well.
Take a look around the web and chances are that you’ll have come across
a large number of sales funnels without even realizing it. So what exactly is
a sales funnel? How does it work? And how can you tap into its power for
Those are the questions we’re going to be asking and answering in this
post. By the end, you’ll know exactly what a sales funnel is and why it’s so
important. Moreover, you’ll be able to build your own sales funnel from
scratch and use it to capture leads and convert them into paying
Once you understand the science behind this, you’ll see why it’s the most
effective way to build profits and you’ll be able to turn any product or
service into a massive success.
What is a Sales Funnel?
Before we go any further, it would perhaps be useful to explain exactly
what a sales funnel is and what you’ll be using it for.
In essence, a sales funnel can be imagined like a funnel for customers.
You start out with a broad opening to capture as many leads as possible
and then you gradually narrow those leads down to only the most engaged
and interested customers so that you can sell to them. All the while, you’ll
be building trust, building engagement and priming them ready to make a
You can also think about this as a ladder, which each rung taking your
customers closer to the top where you’ll eventually try to sell to them.
In practice, what this means is a series of different marketing strategies,
each arranged in such a way as to build more and more targeted leads for
your business. So you might start with a simple advert, or a blog post and
then move on to an email list, then a ‘free report’, then a seminar, then a
small product sales and then a big sale.
Each of these marketing stages is a rung on a ladder, it’s a little further
down the funnel. And each time a customer clicks on the next link or
follows you to the next step, they are becoming more and more likely to buy
As mentioned, there’s a good chance you’ll have encountered different
sales funnels in your travel around the web: and you may even have
bought products from others through this method. You might have come
across a blog and signed up to the mailing list for instance, and then been
told to click on the link therein in order to see a free seminar.
And then maybe the free seminar asked you to sign up for the next seminar which
would cost a little money.
Or you may have come across it on YouTube too. For example, a businessman who is using youtube
videos to capture new leads and sales. The guy shows you his house and cars and then
goes on to talk about his life struggles, how he was in debt a few years ago, living in a room in a basement
and this makes you want to watch – even if only because it annoys you.
At the end of the video, he offers to show you how to get his three most
important tips for making money. And because it’s free, why wouldn’t you
click it? Only at this point, you’re becoming more and more involved with
his brand and more and more likely to become a paying customer.
When you watch this ‘free’ video, which is on his site or channel, you’ll then be
told you can get even more information by signing up for a free report. In
fact, this report is key to understanding the video. If you do this, then
The businessman now has your details and the confirmation that you ’re interested
in what he as to sell!
You’ve gone from a ‘cold lead’ (someone on YouTube, targeted based on
your video watching choices), to a ‘warm lead’ (someone who has
demonstrated an interest) to eventually a ‘qualified lead’.
The way he does this is a little transparent and a little cynical – but it’s how
all the big names operate including the likes of Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss,
and Pat Flynn. And it’s exactly what you should be doing if you want to
make sales. Note that this doesn’t mean you have to con people.
Just that you need to think about your marketing strategy in steps and
stages and understand the psychology of the way you’re dealing with
Understanding Sales Funnels
Imagine if someone came up to you in the street and asked you if you’d like
to buy a $4,000 watch. 99.9999% of the time, you would say no to that offer.
Why? Well, apart from the fact that you might not want a watch (you are a
‘cold lead’ in that respect), there’s also the small issue of trust, recognition
and authority. You don’t know who this person is, you’ve been given no
reason to trust them and you’re probably not going to want to hand over
That’s why companies don’t do this. Instead, they give you fliers. Fliers are
things you can choose to accept or throw away – but either way, they don’t
cost you anything and you won’t feel that you’re being pressured into
Other stores do something different: they give away freebies. Walk past
Starbucks and you’ll often find them giving away free samples of their new
drinks and cakes for you to try. Again, you can easily walk away if you’re
not interested and you won’t feel you’re being strong-armed. If you like the
free sample though, then you can come in and try whatever else they’re
If you try and sell to people right away on your website though, then you’re
the equivalent of someone trying to sell thousand dollar watches in the
street. And if that’s the only thing you’re offering and the only way that your
visitors can engage with you, then they’re just going to say ‘no thanks’ and
leave, giving you no way to contact them again and no way to get them
back. As you might have guessed, this is a poor strategy!
Try to imagine it from their perspective: they have typed ‘fitness tips’ into
Google, found your page essentially by accident and now you’re trying to
sell them your training program for $600. People do not make decisions on
that basis unless they’re loaded with cash. They’ll see you’re trying to sell
them, write you off as spam and then leave.
The Sales Funnels
Now imagine the alternative: the sales funnel technique.
They do the same thing: they type in ‘fitness tips’ and they land on your site
where they get some great information right away. That information is
unique, interesting and useful but at the bottom, it tells the audience that if
they want more great tips – your ‘5 Most Powerful Tips’ – then all they have
to do is to enter their details to receive your free report.
There’s very little reason for them not to do this: you have demonstrated
that you’re able to provide value and you’re offering something for free.
the only price they pay is to allow you to contact them in future – but as you
will point out, they can always just unsubscribe if they don’t want to hear
anything more from you.
They get their free report and once again, they find it is really good. At the
same time though, they’re now getting emails from you – emails with highly
engaging and interesting subject lines. The people who click those emails
are now showing very good engagement and you can see that they’re the
kinds of people that might be willing to buy from you.
Those people will receive an email on an automated basis that invites them
to an exciting free webinar where they can hear you talk online about
fitness. This is a great, rare opportunity and if they like what you’ve done so
far, they should definitely get involved.
They do that and because they’ve gone so far out of their way to hear you
and they’ve listened to the whole thing, they’ve now made the full transition
to a fan. They are now engaging with you in a big way and going out of their
way to hear more from you. This makes a massive difference because in
their own mind it will inform them that you are someone they’re interested
in hearing more from.
After your free seminar, the next stage is to sell to them.
This is them taking the next step and transitioning from a visitor or a fan into a paying
customer. This is the point where they become willing to buy from you and
where you can start making money.
BUT it’s not going to be the ‘big ticket’ item yet. Instead, you’re just going to
sell them something very small. This very small thing is going to be
something along the lines of an eBook or a short course. It should cost
anywhere from $5 to $49 but what it’s doing is demonstrating that they can
buy from you and trust you.
Why Your Small Sale is So Important
This ‘small sale’ is a super important point to include in a sales funnel
(and one that not everyone will know to include). The basic idea
behind this is that you’re giving your audience the chance to buy
from you without too much risk.
Because, as we saw with our watch salesman, one of the biggest
‘barriers to sale’ is the risk. People are naturally risk-averse and they hate
the idea that they might hand over their cash, only for you to go
running off into the sunset laughing at their stupidity. They need to
see that they can buy from you and trust you.
And if they don’t know that, then getting them to spend $5,000 is
going to be very hard. But now sell them something for $5 and you
can get them to say ‘why not’? They’ve seen you can offer value from
the other steps in your sales funnel and the risk of losing $5 is not too
serious. So they take their chance. Only now, they know they can
trust you, they know that you’re able to deliver value and their details
will already be saved in your payment system.
That means that to make the big purchase, you only have to
persuade them that your product is worth it and get them to take the
plunge with one click. This is MUCH easier than trying to get them to
take the plunge when they’ve never dealt with you before.
And finally, it’s off the back of that sale that you’re going to then sell your
big-ticket item. They’ve heard all your free content, they’ve read your
ebook… but if they want to get the very most from you and if they want to
see the very best, most powerful tips for their training, then they need to
upgrade to your most expensive offer.
Alternatively, you might make multiple sales of products that increase in
value gradually over time, and that way each increase in cost will seem very
small. This way, you are making ‘incremental’ increases in price and thus
people will gradually increase the value that they’re spending with you and
become increasingly likely to make the transition to the truly ‘big ticket’
items. See the chapter on pricing and ‘moving the free line’ for more on
this. But in short, that is how you sell a $5,000 product.
Hopefully, you now understand how a sales funnel works and why it’s such
an important tool for maximizing your sales. At the same time though, it’s
worth noting that the steps themselves don’t need to look like this. You
might not have a mailing list, you might not have a seminar – but you can
still create a funnel.
What’s important, is simply that you have a series of escalating ‘steps’, with
each one increasing engagement and building your fan base further.
So the question now becomes: how many steps constitutes a ‘funnel’?
While this varies from case to case, the best answer is five. That’s because
research tells us that it takes five touches to sell to someone. This means
they should interact with your business at least five times before you try
and shift your big-ticket item. This is enough to take someone from being
completely unaware of your brand to be familiar enough with you that
they are willing to put their money and their trust in your products.
Targeting Your Audience and Finding Leads
One of the most important considerations when building a sales funnel is
how you’re going to get people to the start of that funnel in the first place.
What’s more, is asking how you’re going to get the right people to the start
of that funnel. This is where something called ‘targeting’ comes in.
Going back to our example of the shady watch salesman, one of the
biggest problems he had (other than the trust issue), was that he doesn’t
know who we are. We have shown no interest in watches and for all he
knows, we might hate wearing things on our wrist. Or perhaps we’ve just
been given a beautiful new watch and don’t feel the need for one. For this
reason alone, our watch guy is not likely to have much luck.
But now imagine that he is using targeting to sell only to people with a high
chance of being interested. One way he could do this is to stand outside
the ‘Watch Lovers’ Convention’. Another option would be to visit people’s
homes who have answered a survey saying they’re in the market for a
Shady watch guy is still doing a lot of stuff wrong but simply by approaching
that right audience, he’s going to see a BIG improvement in his conversion
And that’s what we need to do too – bring the right people to our site, to
begin with. And to do that, we need to first identify who our buyer is. This
means working out who our ‘buyer persona’ is.
A buyer persona is a fictional biography of the ‘ideal customer’ for
your product. This means that they’re the exact sort of person liable
to want to buy from you.
In profiling this person though, you’re not just going to be looking at
the demographics. Demographics means things like the buyer’s age,
sex, location, and marital status. This is important but you want to go
deeper by thinking about their philosophies, their politics, their other
interests, and more. Once you’ve created your imaginary biography,
this will then allow you to market your product in the very places
where this person is most likely to be. That might mean finding
forums that discuss the other subjects they’re interested in, or it might
mean finding blogs with a similar central concept to write guest posts
This will essentially allow you to find a good ‘route to market’, which is
anywhere that your ideal buyer persona is likely to spend time as a captive
audience member. A brilliant example might be a magazine on a particular
If you can find your route to market and you can match that market with the
right product and sales funnel, then you will be almost guaranteed to see
the success of your products.
What’s crucial to consider throughout all of this, is that you are building
trust and playing the long game. Remember, we’re aiming to do the precise
opposite of that guy in the street offering watches. We know that we need
to woo our customers and get them ‘on our side’ before we try and sell them
something worth thousands of dollars. It seems obvious but it’s crazy how
many people will never think of it this way!
But the next question is precisely how you’re going to build that trust. How
do you generate ‘true fans’ and how do you make sure that the experience
at each stage of your funnel is a worthwhile one?
The first tip, of course, is just to make your products good and that goes for
your free ones above the line too.
The concept we need to discuss here is overdelivering. Instead of
creating something that falls sadly short, you need to make sure that
your products and experiences are overdelivering each time. That
means that you are exceeding expectations and going above and
beyond. If you promise an amazing ebook, then throw in extra videos,
extra mind maps, and beautiful big images. Surpass expectations and
you’ll create goodwill that will spur extra sales!
This is why the best sellers on Amazon never promise next day
delivery. They promise delivery in 2-4 days and then make sure it
arrives the next day. Customers are almost always blown away by
this and that means positive reviews and more sales!