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.
How many people could be inside the Amazon funnel? Basically anyone. Not only does Amazon offer a mind-boggling number of products, but it also offers a broad array of highly desirable personal and business services, including cloud hosting and fulfillment. In addition, Amazon’s platform that is so technologically advanced that it allows almost an infinite number of people to be in the platform at any given time.
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.
Molly might conclude that anybody who fills out her online demonstration request form is an MQL.  Another company might set the bar to MQL qualification at something involving a combination of viewing specific pages, interacting with certain forms, and opening a certain number of email messages. For that kind of analysis, we recommend marketing automation software.
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.

We’ve all received automated emails (like the one that provided a link to this blog post!), multiple times a day when we forgot to uncheck the box. You’ll need to join the ranks of these knowing marketers by adopting an automated email system to build your list of subscribers and people you wish to market to.  These systems are typically very easy to use and set up and allow you to segment your audience lists and more. Get to know yours intimately.

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?
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.

Steve Jobs was a pioneer of the funnel business model in the early days of the internet. His vision was that almost any person or company with an interest in information, interaction, or media was a potential participant in the Apple funnel. The top of the Apple funnel was very broad, with devices from desktop computers to iPods. Apple attracted people into the funnel with products that were so intuitive and elegant that they became status symbols. And inside the funnel, the compatible and interconnected nature of the devices, along with a sizable content library, created multiple opportunities for further transactions.

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.
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.
As “State of Sales” finds, salespeople believe a combination of human skills and data-driven insights is needed to convert prospects into customers. In fact, the ability to listen is seen by 78% of those surveyed as an important attribute needed for landing deals. But sales reps also have to demonstrate industry knowledge (74%), trustworthiness (74%), and knowledge of prospects’ business needs (73%).
HoneyBook offers business management software for creative entrepreneurs. Their business personality test lead magnet helps business owners identify their strengths, having participants provide their email addresses to receive their results. Based on the results of their quiz, they are then added to an email nurturing campaign that provides tailored business advice for their personality type, with the option to begin a trial using HoneyBook.
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.”
The strategies used to gather information tend to vary based on the size and scope of the purchase. Recognizing that you’re hungry, for example, might result in a quick Yelp search for restaurants in your area. Deciding which provider to use to install a new inground pool at your home, on the other hand, will involve calling around, reading company reviews, visiting showrooms, and talking with salespeople.

As “State of Sales” finds, salespeople believe a combination of human skills and data-driven insights is needed to convert prospects into customers. In fact, the ability to listen is seen by 78% of those surveyed as an important attribute needed for landing deals. But sales reps also have to demonstrate industry knowledge (74%), trustworthiness (74%), and knowledge of prospects’ business needs (73%).

Steve Jobs was a pioneer of the funnel business model in the early days of the internet. His vision was that almost any person or company with an interest in information, interaction, or media was a potential participant in the Apple funnel. The top of the Apple funnel was very broad, with devices from desktop computers to iPods. Apple attracted people into the funnel with products that were so intuitive and elegant that they became status symbols. And inside the funnel, the compatible and interconnected nature of the devices, along with a sizable content library, created multiple opportunities for further transactions.
This model lets your customers show the value that they have experienced to your prospects. Rather than having your sales team explain your product/service, it provides a credible third party with actual user experience to explain the value. A flywheel allows you to reduce SG&A costs, focus on the customer experience, and find better good fit customers.
Disclaimer: Individual results will vary. No results are guaranteed with the help of our training and business systems. All the products and services we provide are for education and information purposes only. Are there testimonials on this page where people have created results using our products and services, you can't assume you will get the same results. There are those who will not get any results at all with our products and services. Individual results will vary greatly according to effort, determination, hard work and ability to follow directions. Disclosure: I am an independent ClickFunnels Affiliate, not an employee. I receive referral payments from ClickFunnels. The opinions expressed here are my own and are not official statements of ClickFunnels or its parent company, Etison LLC.
Eric Siu is the CEO of digital marketing agency Single Grain, which has helped companies such as Amazon, Uber and Salesforce acquire more customers, and co-founder of ClickFlow, an SEO experimentation tool that helps you increase your Google ranking. He also hosts two podcasts: Marketing School with Neil Patel and Growth Everywhere, an entrepreneurial podcast where he dissects growth levers that help businesses scale. Follow him on Twitter @ericosiu 

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.
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.
Time in stage – In an ideal world, your marketing content would be so compelling that people move from the top stage to the bottom stage in a single day. But since that’s rarely the case, it’s worthwhile to know if your prospects are getting hung up in one of your stages. If so, you’ll want to add more content to your site that answers the questions that are unique to this stage of the funnel.
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.
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.
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.

Data insights are again the key to funnel optimization. Three other data-driven technologies follow analytics and sales reporting as the most popular sales tools: account and contact management (65%), sales forecasting tools (56%), and customer relationship management (CRM) systems (58%). The latter is a particularly crucial tool for optimization, enabling your business to organize all customer-related data in a central location.
Eric Siu is the CEO of digital marketing agency Single Grain, which has helped companies such as Amazon, Uber and Salesforce acquire more customers, and co-founder of ClickFlow, an SEO experimentation tool that helps you increase your Google ranking. He also hosts two podcasts: Marketing School with Neil Patel and Growth Everywhere, an entrepreneurial podcast where he dissects growth levers that help businesses scale. Follow him on Twitter @ericosiu
If your new customers are greeted by a thoughtful onboarding process, personal attention and all the resources they need 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 recommendations and product endorsements.

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.
OK, so really there are 11 steps to creating your sales funnel, but 10 just sounded more “precise”!  Lastly, your email system should tell you how successful your emails are. Use this information to tweak and improve them over time.  You should also track your blog posts, Twitter followers and Twitter activity, Facebook ad success, etc. Hubspot is a great tool for this kind of thing.
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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.
Eric Siu is the CEO of digital marketing agency Single Grain, which has helped companies such as Amazon, Uber and Salesforce acquire more customers, and co-founder of ClickFlow, an SEO experimentation tool that helps you increase your Google ranking. He also hosts two podcasts: Marketing School with Neil Patel and Growth Everywhere, an entrepreneurial podcast where he dissects growth levers that help businesses scale. Follow him on Twitter @ericosiu
But once you acquire enough initial customers and you ensure their success and happiness, they become a force for your flywheel. This is because either they buy from you again or they bring in new customers by promoting you to their network. This is the key to keeping your flywheel spinning without continuing to invest all your resources in acquiring new customers.
No matter what kind of purchase customers are making or how much they plan on spending, all of them follow a fairly identical path when it comes to deciding what to buy. This process, or the different stages it is composed of, was first introduced by John Dewey in 1910, but even now — more than an entire century later — it still is the ultimate basis of comprehending buyer behavior and marketing funnel creation.
Of course, if you're going the paid ad route, you could also use Facebook and Google re-targeting to keep that awareness and interest level high. For example, if you've ever noticed after leaving a particular website, that you begin to see their ad everywhere, there's a particular reason for that. Especially if they've already entered your sales funnel, this is a very powerful way to get them to act.
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