Every successful business person will agree that you NEED systems to grow a business. And there are few systems better than a “funnel”. Btw, “funnel” is merely a fancy marketing term for “process”; no need to be afraid of the word.
Most entrepreneurs already have the funnel in their head. However, this is not distinct in the real world; it only exists in their brain. Business owners without documented processes are no better than gambling hustlers that throw things against the wall to see what sticks – it’s not good for the business, the customers, or the team.
Consistency is one of the most important ingredients to create sustainable growth. Systems and processes can provide a framework to stay consistent. We have to be able to repeat the critical parts of our business processes over and over and over again, without fail. This way, you ensure every new lead and customer gets the same outstanding experience.
Makes sense, right?
The first step towards repeatable excellence is to identify each key process, then document each one. Every business should be creating checklists and procedures. As soon as you write down your key processes AND implement them with your team or with software (execution is critical), you’ve got a funnel. Yes, parts of your funnel can be automated with software BUT it doesn’t have to be. Being repeatable is what makes something a funnel, not the technology.
Sure, funnels can be a pain in the butt. You must come up with a strategy, then you have to write it out, THEN spend the time and money building everything. This can take days, weeks, or months even… but when it’s done, your business is ready to grow and scale.
The slow moving, resource intensive investment in a funnel is why most businesses never bother. This might work for them in the short term. For serious long-term growth though, there is no way around it: you MUST have some kind of funnel built to generate leads, guide them through your sales process, and deliver a world-class product/service.
Funnels obviously vary from business to business. The funnel Starbucks uses to sell coffee will not work for a mortgage banker to sell houses. There are some core funnel elements though, that nearly any business can use.
5 Core Funnel Elements That 99% Of Businesses Can Leverage
Core Funnel Element #1 – Lead Magnet
Anything that your business does to directly attract a new person you haven’t met can be considered a “lead magnet’. Literally a “magnet” for your target audience. This can take a variety of forms. A free consultation is a lead magnet. So is a free ebook. Or a coupon. Or educational video. Or a checklist. Or a template. Or…
The most successful lead magnets genuinely help your target audience, for free, without them needing to make a purchase. While a coupon is a decent lead magnet, to receive the value someone has to actually make a purchase. A better idea might be to offer a free idea guide that includes a coupon. This way, you can ensure they get real value even if they never buy!
Core Funnel Element #2 – Intro Offer
A business-consumer relationship transforms once money has exchanged hands. Which is why the purpose of an intro offer is to turn someone into a paying customer sooner than later. This is not your main offer, but rather a smaller purchase that is still valuable. In some communities, they sometimes refer to this as a “tripwire” offer.
Be aware that not every kind of business can develop a meaningful intro offer. Typically, this is hard to do with very cheap or very expensive items. If you sell donuts, having a cheaper “intro donut” doesn’t make a lot of sense. Conversely, if your main business is home mortgages, finding a cheaper intro offer can be a challenge.
Core Funnel Element #3 – Sales Process
Once a business has captured a lead, there needs to be a distinct process that sells your main offer(s). If the purchase is completely unassisted (someone can buy on their own), this is where ground level tactics like sales letters and checkout pages come into play.
However, if the sale is assisted (someone must talk to a person to buy), you may need sales scripts and/or a proper pipeline tool. The live interactions should be intentionally designed, and there needs to be a sales manager function to ensure governance of the chosen sales process.
Core Funnel Element #4 – Customer Fulfillment
The delivery of your main offer, after the sale is made, needs to be given as much consideration as your marketing and sales elements. In fact, if you design your fulfillment first, you can work backwards and ensure that your marketing/sales is congruent with your new customer experience. Again, depending on the business this will look different. A restaurant’s fulfillment of your meal looks different than a lawn service cutting your grass. No matter what you are selling, nothing should be left to chance.
You also want to consider how often someone may purchase. This will help determine your post-purchase follow up. Starbucks has their own app which has gamified coffee and encourages people to come back for another drink. A restaurant may have an email list for patrons. A mortgage broker may only be able to follow up for referrals after the mortgage has closed.
Core Funnel Element #5 – Upsell Process
Depending on the business, this process may happen immediately or some time after the purchase. “You want fries with that?” is an upsell that happens immediately with the purchase. Sometimes, this is referred to as a “cross sell”. The point is you are trying to sell more on top of the existing offer at the time of purchase.
For other types of businesses, you may need to wait a period of time before doing an upsell. Dentists do this all the time. You come in for a cavity, and then a few months later you get a postcard to come back in for cleaning.
In general, these funnel elements are basic things any business should have. These days, they are the business equivalent of wearing pants. Anyone who says otherwise merely wants you to be out there as naked as they are. What do you think, did I miss anything?
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