The last step in the sales funnel is to keep your momentum going. Follow up with all the new customers you have acquired and ensure they are happy with their product or service. A great way to accomplish this is to offer a membership-based rewards program. This will allow you to remain in contact with customers, giving you the perfect means for telling them about new deals and services.
You need to understand your audience like you do your very own yourself. You are aware of your dislikes and likes, you know what problems you face and you know the sort of people you will let help with those problems. If you learn to know your audience in the same manner, the chances of you establishing a genuine connection increase vastly. You will also be able to guide more people through your sales funnel and get those coveted ‘closed-wons’.
Exits from stage – Similarly, seeing an excessively high number of people falling out of a particular stage is an indication that you aren’t doing enough to answer their questions or you’re asking them for too much of a commitment too early. Add more content to give them the information they need to move forward or make it easier for people to convert (e.g. don’t ask for a phone number when they’re downloading a certain e-book).
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.
However, say the customer is evaluating marketing automation programs to help improve the sales funnel they created. Because these programs can require investments of $1,500 a month, they’re likely to undergo a much more careful and thorough evaluation process. They might request free trials of the different systems they’re considering, have online demonstrations with each company’s representatives or view training videos to get a feel for how each system will perform.
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In this article, we’ll summarize 10 steps, more or less in order of execution, that you can take to create a sales funnel to drive students to enroll in your course. We’re not going to go into great detail about each one of these steps – we’ll leave it to you to Google the hundreds of resources out there on each of these when you decide you want to execute. But we provide a general overview to guide your thinking about how to execute an online course sales funnel.
Social proof is the psychological idea that people determine what’s correct by finding out what other people think is correct. Customer reviews are 12x more trusted than descriptions that come from manufacturers. Social media is a powerful tool for creating social proof. Let the stories and experiences of your happy customers create converting content for you.
Of course, implementing this isn't easy. You need to first develop your stories, then decide on how you're going to convey those stories and at what drip-rate. For example, your first email or two might go out on the day they first signup, then one email per day might go out afterwards. How much of that will be story-based and how much will be pitches?
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.
Your automated sequence of emails needs to reflect the different stages of the sales funnel process as depicted in the diagram above. Automated emails ideally should guide your prospective students somewhere from the “interest phase”, where they have signed up for a newsletter or downloaded a lead magnet, through to purchase of your course. This requires a good bit of thought to create the right messaging, frequency and content offer.
If these three letters send shivers to your spine, you’re not alone. SEO is a huge topic. You need to know a minimum amount about SEO to make sure your content development efforts are not wasted. There’s just no point in writing a hundred blog posts if your website and blog are not optimized for Google (and Yahoo, Bing, etc.) search traffic that you want to drive into the top of your funnel.
The main thing you need to do is understand what keywords your target audience is searching for. If you’ve done your homework creating course titles and landing pages already, then this should not be a strange concept. If you create your website in WordPress, it provides SEO guidance, so there’s good news. That said, don’t get too hung up on SEO, it takes a good while to understand and get good at it. Just keep working at it.
The idea is to condition your users. Don’t push towards selling only your products, make it a point to create comfortability with users thus allowing a relationship to form. Make contents that are relevant, timely, and tends to help users. Or engage in creating games or mini games so your site or page could be deemed as not only informative but also engaging in a good way.
As each individual deal moves through each phase, the probability of closing the sale will change. The further along the sales funnel, the more information is exchanged and more apparent it becomes using the product will be advantageous to the customer. At this point, there is a higher potential for that deal to be ultimately successful unless the deal is moved to closed-lost in which case, the probability moves to zero.
One quick word of caution, though. With every piece of content you create for every stage of your funnel, you’re generating data. Though all of it is useful to your sales process in some way, it’s easy to get bogged down in data and metrics tracking instead of focusing on the few key performance indicators (KPIs) that will actually give you the information needed to make meaningful improvements.
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.
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.
“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.
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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.
The final stage of the sales funnel is the action that you're intending them to perform. In most cases this is the purchase. Again, how well you move them through the various stages is going to set you up with a specific conversion for this action. For example, if 100 people click on your offer and 10 people enter your sales funnel but only purchase people purchase, then you have a 2 percent conversion.