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Get Your Sales Funnel Flowing

What steers your sales funnel toward success? Let’s take it from the top. As in the top of your sales funnel, where the buyer’s journey begins. Here are some handy do’s and don’ts that can help get new leads flowing into your funnel.

Do: Focus on Awareness. Don’t: Get Ahead of Yourself.

Top of the sales funnel is all about establishing awareness. So the logical place to begin is by demonstrating that you understand your customer. According to Matt Ackerson from Petovera, by doing that, you will understand their needs and frustrations – and how well (or not) your offer helps to solve their problem. And by all means, don’t rush the process by filling the top of your funnel with product or service features. That happens further down the funnel.

Do: Blog. Don’t: Brag.

Blogs are an inviting way to begin a new relationship. Be sure your blog clearly shows that you appreciate what your customers are going through. But remember, a blog isn’t the place to show off. Instead, it’s the perfect opportunity to reveal how your solution helps consumers get what they want and need.

Do: Consider tip sheets and e-books. Don’t: Turn them into sales brochures.

Offering interesting, relevant information can attract prospects into your world. The trick here is to put your customer first. What problem(s) can your product or service solve? What can you say that will help your prospect see that you might offer a solution to their dilemma? Translation: Make sure your tip sheet is more than a laundry list of product features and benefits. And that your e-book doesn’t read like an autobiography.

Do: Work on building traffic. Don’t: Think free traffic is really free.

While most SMBs work with limited budgets, it sometimes makes sense to dig into your pocket and invest some money in paid search. The upside to paid traffic is that you can have answers in short order. Of course, you can build traffic without paying for it. Just keep in mind that so-called free traffic still costs you precious time — and, in the case of SEO, the money you spend on an outside SEO firm needs to be figured into your return on investment.

Do: Create pre-produced or live video. Don’t: Create an image problem.

Video is all the rage the days. If you haven’t hopped aboard the video train yet, take a little time to develop a video strategy. Do you want the more professional appearance of a pre-produced clip? Or the personal impact and immediacy of live video? Whatever you do, don’t forget that the quality of your video can say as much about your company as the message itself.

Do: Take the time to write effective headlines. Don’t: Try to do it yourself if it’s not in your wheelhouse.

Your headline is very often the most critical aspect of any marketing effort. That means the wrong headline will shut down your sales process before it starts. So budget enough time to give your headline its due. And if headline writing is not at the top of your skill set, either learn how to write them — or set some marketing dollars aside and hire a professional.

Do: Get social. Don’t: Get impatient.

Social media is a natural way to attract prospects to your sales process. Just remember the key word here is “social.” With this approach, you are investing in developing relationships by creating a dialogue with people who may not know you. Unlike paid approaches, social typically takes more time to create the necessary trust to have someone clicking over to your landing page. So be patient and take a long-term view.

Do: Go offline. Don’t: Break the bank.

Direct mail, networking events and trade shows are three proven ways to connect with prospects in the off-line world and lead them to your sales funnel in the process. Just make sure to think about return on investment when putting marketing dollars into potentially costly off-line activities. (On the other hand, the shrewd use of traditional approaches might be the thing that separates you from the herd.)

Do: Team up with corporate partners. Don’t: Form a partnership that doesn’t make sense.

A wise way to multiply your efforts is by creating synergistic partnerships with other firms. These powerful partnerships can multiply your efforts, helping spread the word in fresh new directions. But heed one caution: Don’t get together with a corporate partner unless they are aligned with you — and you with them.

Do: Remember the four levels of a sales funnel. Don’t: Forget they are interconnected.

The top of the funnel, which we’ve covered here, is all about awareness. Next, you’ll need to generate consumer interest. The third step is for the customer to make a buying decision. And based on that decision, the bottom of the funnel is where the consumer takes action — and becomes your customer. Every step is necessary, and worthy of attention. Why not make it a business goal to maximize sales funnel effectiveness?

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