Of course, regardless of how they enter into your funnel, your goal as a marketer is to move them through the multiple stages that will take them from prospect to buyer. And once they're aware of you, you need to build their interest. To do this, you need to establish a relationship with the customer. You might have enticed them with a great offer (lead magnet) to grab their email address, but actually moving them through the funnel is a far greater challenge. 
In a recent conversation I had with Perry Belcher, co-founder of Native Commerce Media, he told me that you also need to train your prospects to click on links. For example, you could have them click on a link of what interests them or link them to a blog post or eventually to a product or service that you're selling, but you need to train them to build a habit of clicking on those links from the very beginning.
No one has to tell you, of all people, that customers go through stages as they move through the buying process. As a small-business owner, you've been selling your product or service long before your sales and marketing team started casting decisions in terms of “the marketing funnel.” The marketing funnel? If this term is new to your vernacular, don't worry, you're not far behind the curve – or the tactics to help you navigate it.
Remarketing: This is a bit of an advanced paid advertising tactic and it has a learning curve. With remarketing, you target people who have visited your site and send ads to them on other platforms like Google or Facebook. Have you ever noticed that when you check out a shirt on Amazon, that shirt suddenly starts following you around the internet? That’s remarketing at work. With a solid remarketing strategy, you can even target visitors of specific pages on your site—like people who visited the sales page for product A and not product B—and send hyper-targeted ads.  
Next, you need to educate your prospects. In other words, you need to teach people why they need your product/service and how it works. In this stage, you can start promoting sales, but getting too aggressive can be a bit of a turn off. Instead, think about how to become a friend to a potential customers. For example, if you’re a car salesman speaking to someone looking at vehicles on your lot, you might have a common connection in the fact that you both have kids, so you can direct the prospect to vehicles that have a high safety rating or are great for growing families, as you’re talking about your own experiences dealing with a snarky teen or potty-training a toddler.

Both matter. There’s a very well-known coffee brand that has great company policies, friendly staff, and an overall cool attitude, but I just think the products tastes like dirt. So, I don’t purchase from them anymore. At the same time, there’s another coffee brand I’ve tried, with amazing products at a great price, but they have what I consider to be unethical practices…so I don’t purchase from them either. As a consumer, both the product/service and the company matter to me, and this is true of most people, even those who don’t realize it.

As people progress through your funnel, their intent to buy steadily increases. You always lose people with each new commitment you ask for (we refer to these actions “conversions”), but the more people you can get to convert at each step in your funnel, the more sales you will ultimately produce. In marketing, we call this process “widening the funnel.”
Close rate – Your close rate (or “win rate”) refers to the number of these opportunities that turn into eventual sales. If your close rate is lower than you expect, look at some of the other metrics you’re tracking for ideas on improving the success rate of your marketing funnel. You may be sending sales unqualified leads because your content is for a far more technically savvy audience while your ideal customer is a novice.
“Aligning marketing and sales during the sales funnel does more than just align the teams — it creates better business outcomes,” said Mathew Sweezey, Principal of Marketing Insights at Salesforce. His stance is validated by a SiriusDecisions study that found brands with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieve 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth. The three easiest ways to ensure marketing and sales alignment will succeed is a common language, co-created shared programs, and a policy to abide by a service level agreement.
The concept of “creating customers” may at first seem to be an odd one. Don’t you find customers, not make them? Well, yes and no. While it is extremely hard to turn someone into a customer if they have no interest in your product/service or don’t have the money to make the purchase, with a proper sales funnel, can can create fans out of people who never even knew you existed (or at least never realized how much they needed whatever you’re selling). A sales funnel can also turn an “on the fence” customer into a raving fan who refers even more people to you!
Generating revenue is a multi-step process in which you have to progressively nurture people before they are ready to make a purchase. A shoe salesperson is nurturing you when they ask your size, show you lots of options, help you try a few pairs on, and let you know about a deal. It’s giving you the information and support you need to make a decision about buying.  
Revenue per customer or customer lifetime value: Typically, you won’t get the same amount of revenue for every customer that you acquire. Some of them might purchase at a discount, some others might purchase several products. If you offer a subscription plan, not all of your customers will stay subscribed for the same amount of time. A simple way to calculate this is to add up all your revenue for a specific period of time, and divide it by the number of paying customers you acquired during that period. The point here is that you should understand how much money, on average, you are making for every customer that you acquire. This will help you work backwards from a revenue goal and determine how many customers you need to hit your goals. I recommend that you only run this analysis periodically instead of keeping track of it every day because you will probably see a lot of variability. Teachable also collects all the data you need to calculate this value—just download a spreadsheet of all of your transactions from the Transactions tab. 

Content that introduces the company and intrigues potential customers enough to move to the next stage of the buying process. For example, a Facebook post called “Behind the Scenes at Molly Marketer’s Company. This works especially well if you have a company with a corporate citizenship mission, such as selling sustainable, environmentally friendly goods.
Define your end goal. This is the end relationship you want to have with the information you gather, and it differs greatly for online businesses. In some cases, the contact details of a person is your Internet-based goal, because it may funnel leads into a service-based business that calls its customers by phone, and in other cases, it is developing repeat clientele.
Think about that the next time you're building out a sales funnel. This complex and intricate concept in business can literally take you from a complete unknown to a global powerhouse quickly through the art of scaling out a highly-converting offer. Don't try to take shortcuts or implement hacks, and put in the time if you're looking to eventually reap the benefits and results.
Now your marketing automation funnel is giving you a boost at every stage: It responded within five minutes of their first contact, and that helped get you the chance to make your pitch. Now, after the pitch, you're ready to stay in contact and respond to objections in a friendly, targeted way. (And if they love the pitch, automation can help you stay in close touch until closing.)
It all goes back to lead nurturing. Moving people down each level requires the same process: education, evaluation, engagement, commitment, purchase (or “action” – sometimes they aren’t actually making a purchase, but rather taking an action like sending out a tweet). In some cases, that process happens within a single email. Other times, it takes days, weeks, or even months. To make matters even more complicated, every customer is different. While some people might make the decision to buy your $19 within a few hours of downloading and sharing your ebook, other customers might be in “deciding” mode for 6 months.
PR/Press: This tactic consists of getting media coverage for your content, brand, or business. Media outlets and publications have built large audiences over a long time—that’s what their entire business model is about—so if you can tap into that, it can mean a significant boost of traffic to your site. PR is all about having an interesting angle that is newsworthy and presenting it in the right way to journalists and reporters.  
Prospects next need time to figure out if making a purchase is the best option. At this point, it often makes sense to back off a bit. In our car salesman example, an important part of the evaluation process is the test drive. Depending on your industry, you may want to give someone a free sample or demo. If you aren’t selling in-person, videos can be extremely effective here. Often, during the evaluation process, prospects need to talk to others about the potential purchase, so this is where building up a loyal fan base comes in handy.
For example, if you are a florist, a repeat customer might stop at your shop every few months to purchase the same thing–a flower bouquet for his wife. Or if you’re make socks, a repeat customer might purchase more socks from you when the old socks are worn out. On the other hand, if you’re an author selling a book, you probably aren’t going to get someone purchasing the exact same book from you a second time (unless it’s a gift or they lose their first copy). However, they may very well purchase your second novel as soon as you publish it.

In a recent conversation I had with Perry Belcher, co-founder of Native Commerce Media, he told me that you also need to train your prospects to click on links. For example, you could have them click on a link of what interests them or link them to a blog post or eventually to a product or service that you're selling, but you need to train them to build a habit of clicking on those links from the very beginning.
Once your target audience is aware of their needs and your company they move into the “think” stage. This is where it gets tricky—the majority of consumer research happens in this stage, and the research and discovery loop takes them back and forth through different mediums. During this stage, it’s crucial to build your authority and get your target audience onto your website.

Private communities: This is a great way to establish a closer and continuous channel of communication between yourself/your company and your leads, as well as allowing them to interact with each other. You can create private communities to start conversations, gather feedback, or share updates and news. By starting a community, you are committing to being active and monitoring it regularly for the medium/long term, which can be very time consuming in future—so keep that in mind if you decide to go with this tactic.  


Direct email: Direct email works great if you have a list of people interested in your business. For example, people who attended one of your in-person workshops, a list of current customers, or a group/community you are a part of or manage. Important: Notice how we specify that these should be people you previously had contact with. We don’t recommend that you purchase email lists to do direct emailing as that can have a number of negative consequences for you and your business.  
Direct email: Direct email works great if you have a list of people interested in your business. For example, people who attended one of your in-person workshops, a list of current customers, or a group/community you are a part of or manage. Important: Notice how we specify that these should be people you previously had contact with. We don’t recommend that you purchase email lists to do direct emailing as that can have a number of negative consequences for you and your business.  
As noted, the pizza shop funnel example above is really simple; there aren’t many steps. Sometimes this is okay (for example, in our pizza funnel, adding more steps may or may not hinder down the sales process). However, for better results, it is often beneficial to add more levels to your sales funnel. This is especially true if you’re selling high-ticket items.
As a software engineer myself, I can tell you that building funnels from an application standpoint takes massive amounts of work. There's a great deal of coding and integration that's required here. From email systems to landing page implementations to credit card processing APIs, and everything in between, so many platforms need to "talk," that it takes the bar too high for the average marketer. 

An event scheduling tool allows you to schedule events like conference calls, lunches, and so on right from the CRM. These events become part of your calendar and serve as another way to help you move your prospects and customers down your sales funnel. You can associate contacts and deals to your events. You can also update information like dates and times from the calendar view.
Congrats! Someone has committed to buying your product! Some people combine this with the next step, “purchase,” but depending on your industry, this could be a different step entirely. Sometime people make a verbal commitment to buy, but then walk away and never come back to make a purchase. Once someone leaves, there’s a very good change that they’ll never be back. So, if someone says they intend to buy, it is your job to get that money right away. Don’t let them go talk to a spouse. Don’t let them come back next week. Do what you can to make the sale now.

About The Author: Blue Corona's Editorial Staff is determined to help you increase your leads and sales, optimize your marketing costs, and differentiate your brand by passing on our tribal knowledge. The team vigilantly stays on top of the latest in digital marketing, bringing you the top insights with expert commentary. Want to see something on our blog you haven't seen yet? Shoot us an email and our marketing team will get to work.


In a recent conversation I had with Perry Belcher, co-founder of Native Commerce Media, he told me that you also need to train your prospects to click on links. For example, you could have them click on a link of what interests them or link them to a blog post or eventually to a product or service that you're selling, but you need to train them to build a habit of clicking on those links from the very beginning.
Or, are you a leader, an adventurer or an evangelist? How you position yourself is entirely up to you, but your message must be consistent throughout your entire "pitch" and it needs to be steeped in the truth. Your backstory, and just how you convey that through parables, character flaws and polarity, has much to do with just how well you can "hook" in your prospects to create a mass movement.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re trying to sell someone a coaching program that costs $1000. A lead comes to your blog, likes a post, and signs up for your mailing list. If your first email is a sales pitch for your coaching program, how many people will buy it? A small percentage, to be sure, especially if your blog posts are directly related to coaching program. However, by adding a few more steps, you can more easily encourage a sale. Your sales funnel might instead look like this:
As you can probably imagine, this sort of thing is particularly frustrating if you’re selling an expensive product or service, but you can even see it happen with something as simple as deciding where to go for lunch. For example, if you’re hungry and in a hurry, you might pick the closest restaurant. But, if a friend asks where you’re going and says, “Oh, that’s where I got food poisoning last week”, there’s a good chance you’ll end up going somewhere else.
As a side note, while getting negative feedback rarely feels good, I want to encourage you to view feedback the way I do: as a priceless opportunity to improve and grow your business. Complaints and criticisms give you important signals that you need to make changes or else risk losing business from frustrated customers. Read this article to learn more: What Should You Do When People Complain About Your Product or Service?
×