But, once you have enough experience to be eligible (and are likely itching for a promotion), they start marketing to you. It might be email marketing or an email list-based retargeting campaign, but these graduate programs do their level best to get back on your radar. It’s a long-term play, but it’s one that works incredibly well because the schools know exactly when their students are “ready to buy” again.
No matter what kind of purchase we’re making or how much we intend to spend, all of us follow a relatively similar path when it comes to deciding what to buy. This buying process, or stages, was first introduced by John Dewey in 1910, but even now — more than 100 years later — it’s still the foundation of understanding buyer behavior and marketing funnel creation.

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.
When these would-be buyers become interested enough in her products, they request an online demonstration by filling out the form on her landing pages. These requests are routed directly to her salespeople, who, because they’re dealing with warm leads, close roughly 50% of the customers to whom they demo. Molly’s company closes more sales than Norman’s, with fewer salespeople and no time spent on cold calling.
However, collectively, they do represent the many activities that you should be working on everyday to get your course sales funnel up and running. What that process looks like will depend very much on your existing knowledge of and execution on these components, your financial and personal motivations, time, talent and more.  No matter what, you want to be working on as many of these bits as possible to get those conversions.
If you’re running a consulting business, for instance, your clients already realize that they’re having certain problems around your service area – like disorganized spending (if you’re in accounting) or a high cost per lead (if you’re in marketing). On the other hand, if you’re running a software development business, your client could be having problems with absolutely anything right from the hours being consumed to other factors that affect deliveries.
Traffic sources. As you’ve probably noticed throughout this article, different traffic sources work better for different stages in the marketing funnel. Sometimes, however, a traffic source can surprise you, so it is a good idea to track how many people are entering your marketing funnel from each source and stage so that you can give your top sources more budget and attention.
First, a common language needs to be set up to ensure marketing knows when a lead should be moved from marketing’s control, and placed in the sales funnel. There are two terms, "marketing-qualified lead" (MQL) and "sales-qualified lead" (SQL) or “sales-accepted-lead,” which all sales funnels must embrace to keep both teams aligned. When marketing has a lead ready to talk to sales, the lead should be marked as an MQL, meaning marketing has gotten it to the point where they believe sales should take over. If sales agree the lead is sales-ready, they accept the lead and move it from MQL to SQL (or SAL), and the handoff is complete. If not, the lead goes back to marketing.
However, video conferencing and other apps offer an opportunity to engage prospects at a time and place that suits them. In fact, 60% of sales reps say they spend more time selling virtually than they did in 2015, according to the third edition of Salesforce’s global “State of Sales” study. Meanwhile, 52% of sales reps say they spend the same amount of time or less meeting with customers in person.
Exits from stage. The exits from stage metric is very similar to your time in stage metric, but it allows you to see how many potential customers you are completely losing in a particular stage. For example, if your potential clients spend a year on your email list before they buy (but most of them do eventually buy), that’s a time in stage problem. If people spend 5 days on your email list before they buy, but 98% of them unsubscribe within 5 days, that’s an exits from stage problem.

For instance, if you’re selling marketing automation software to a startup, showcase a startup that 10X-ed their leads.  If you’re selling the enterprise version of that marketing software, share a case study from another enterprise company.  The enterprise case study is too aspirational for the startup, and the startup case study doesn’t work in front of a huge global marketing team.
We’ve written a bit about defining your target audience, but suffice to say that if you still haven’t done this, then don’t bother moving on to the next steps in the sales funnel. You must have some idea of what people are interested in your topic, where they are hanging out online and what motivates them in order to begin creating awareness of your course at the top of the funnel.  If you just start sending out emails and tweets willy nilly with no real plan, your efforts (and you will read later on that it is a lot of effort) will be wasted.  You need to know that you are creating the right content for the right people.
According to Pardot, 70% of buyers turn to Google at least 2-3 times during their search to find out more about their problems, potential solutions, relevant businesses, etc. Many people also turn to social media and forums for recommendations. At this point, they aren’t looking for promotional content; they’re looking to learn more about potential solutions for their need.
1. Fuel – This is where fresh and unqualified leads first enter into your funnel. They’re typically attracted by an appealing offer, a tempting and free lead magnet, or simply the promise that you’ll be delivering them quality content chock full of valuable information. Many of the funnels we’ve built for our clients are fueled by Google PPC ads or ads through Facebook. 

On the contrary, if your new customers are welcomed by a thoughtful onboarding process, personal attention and are educated about all the resources they are going to be needing to use your product successfully, they’re more likely to confirm to themselves that they made the right choice. And when they’re confident, they’re more likely to pass on their satisfaction to others in the form of product endorsements and recommendations. This further leads to increased brand advocacy.

However, video conferencing and other apps offer an opportunity to engage prospects at a time and place that suits them. In fact, 60% of sales reps say they spend more time selling virtually than they did in 2015, according to the third edition of Salesforce’s global “State of Sales” study. Meanwhile, 52% of sales reps say they spend the same amount of time or less meeting with customers in person.

For example, let’s say your business has a blog and social media accounts it uses to get on a potential customer’s radar. From there, you encourage people to download an eBook in exchange for their email and drop them into an email drip that promotes an upcoming webinar. At the webinar, you sell people on your product or service, which convinces them to submit a lead form, work with your sales team and ultimately make a purchase.

Following their information search — or sometimes running concurrently with this process — potential customers start comparing the alternatives that your article has discussed. Again, the time spent in this stage will vary based on the type of purchase being contemplated. Choosing a restaurant might be as simple as deciding, “Well, I feel like Chinese food, not Mexican, tonight.”

Advocacy metrics: Track your advocacy efforts by measuring the percentage of customers who come through your referral program. Also gauge sentiment by what customers are saying on social media. Small businesses that don’t have the time or resources to devote to social media can use software tools, such as Hootsuite, to streamline the monitoring and management of various social media outlets.
The sales funnel metaphor is somewhat misleading; in real life, the process never goes as smoothly as liquid down a funnel. In the last decade, digital marketing, artificial intelligence (AI), and CRM have drastically changed the process of converting new leads into customers. Given this, it’s increasingly important that business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing teams are aligned in their views on a sales funnel strategy and lead generation as a whole.
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.

Matt Ackerson founded AutoGrow (Petovera Inc.) in 2010 as a conversion-focused web design agency. The company has since worked one-on-one with over 500 customers and clients to create their sales funnels. Matt is a graduate of Cornell University. He and AutoGrow have been featured in Techcrunch, Forbes, Inc, Venture Beat, Mashable, and Popular Science among others. He and the team write in-depth articles on digital marketing, sales funnel design, and also offer an advanced funnel training course here on AutoGrow.co


The questions have intensified with two recent announcements. UnitedHealth Group CEO David Wichmann said that Optum plans to grow from $16 billion to $100 billion annual revenue by 2028, and will do that without building any hospitals. A few days later, CVS announced that it would expand its three-store HealthHUB pilot into 1,500 locations by 2021. HealthHUB is CVS’s in-store health and primary-care experience.

Force moves the sales process forward. Areas of force include accurate and timely information, a good understanding of the problem, your ability to listen and overall responsiveness. Friction slows down the sales process. Essentially, when your prospect has to jump through too many hoops or faces obstacles or inconveniences throughout the sales process, this creates friction which makes your job more difficult.


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Much of this is steeped in buyer psychology. The best marketers in the world know that there is a psychological process that must occur for prospects to whip out those credit cards and turn into buyers or even hyper-active buyers. One such person whose perfected this process is Russell Brunson, an "underground entrepreneur" who founded a company called ClickFunnels, a sales funnel SaaS business that empowers marketers from around the world to build marketing automation without all the hassle. 
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