Sales Funnels 101: The Mechanics Behind Selling Online

Anyone who’s mildly interested in business needs to understand the concept of the sales funnel. But what are sales funnels and how do they work? In essence, they’re automated sales processes configured to increase sales and conversions. At the end of the day, sales funnels offer the path of least resistance and highest probability to growing and scaling a business fast, no matter the present size, industry or niche it’s in. However, before you get ahead of yourself, you have to understand some of the underlying psychology that drives people to buy.

The Psychology Of Selling

Tony Robbins says that all human desire is based on one foundational principle. That principle states that we will always do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure. The best marketers in the world understand this principle. They work to invoke pain and pleasure in all of their marketing. The best are able to strategically interweave these into their pitches and sales letters and sign-up forms.

This principle of pain versus pleasure can easily be leveraged by positioning your products or services in the right way to help leverage this strategically. When you think about pleasure, you can also think about the benefit. What’s the biggest benefit (pleasure) that a consumer is going to get when they buy what you’re selling. You also have to think about what they’re going to avoid (pain).

The Art & The Science Of A Sales Funnel

When you look at how sales funnels operate, it’s clear that there’s a science to it. It’s a science based on traffic, leads and sales. It means a deep-rooted analysis of conversions and understanding where the customer came from and how far along they got in the funnel before either dropping off or successfully completing the sale. Of course, there’s also the science of configuration in funnels. How well is the landing page (squeeze page) configured? How much does the copy or headline appeal the audience? And so on and so forth.

But there’s also an art to sales funnels. That art invokes an age-old skill that dates back to the beginning of our species–storytelling. Just how well you can pitch a story within the framework of your sales funnel will ultimately guarantee your success or failure.

Urgency And Scarcity?

Two fundamental concepts in persuasion selling are urgency and scarcity. Why? Because, we want what we can’t have or can only have for a brief period. That’s just human nature. Once we know we can easily have something, it becomes less attractive to us. However, when something is very difficult to acquire, it becomes far more valuable in our eyes. Even if, in the real world, it’s not that valuable, to us, it becomes that way when we know it’s extremely difficult to attain.

When it comes to sales funnels, the better you can use urgency and scarcity to combine it with your irresistible offer that appeals to your target audience, the better you can sell. Yes, it’s a science and an art. Because, conveying that urgency and scarcity, and properly configuring the elements of a funnel such as the landing pages and up-sells and down-sells and one-time offers, has a lot to do with both the science and the art of the sale.

Using Persuasion Effectively

Persuading someone to buy something isn’t always that easy. You need to establish things like rapport with the prospect. The better they get to know you, the more likely they’ll be to buy whatever it is that you’re peddling. The better you are at persuasion, the more likely you’ll sell, not just one time, but repeatedly. You do this by creating raving fans and a devote following of hyperactive buyers.

But instilling persuasion in sales funnels isn’t always straightforward. How do you persuade someone to buy something if they just found you? The short answer? You can’t. That’s what follow-up email sequences are for. Now, there are some exceptions to the rule. If you have an irresistible offer or you effectively use the power of ‘free’ to fuel the front-end of your funnels, you could easily break even.

So, when you’re trying to build an effective sales funnel, if you can get a prospect to do 3 things and the 4th is asking for the sale, it will almost always work. In fact, this is likely to increase your conversions the most. If you can do this effectively, and make the tasks very manageable and easy, you’ll be able to close the sales with ease. If you can’t do it, you’ll likely struggle.

What Are Sales Funnels?

Okay, so you understand some of the psychology behind selling. But how can you use this information effectively to build out sales funnels that convert at high rates? That right there is the million-dollar question. However, before diving into that, let’s review what a sales funnel actually is. At the end of the day, a sales funnel is simply a multi-staged and multi-medium based system to automate the sales process.

Sales funnels do this in a number of ways. First and foremost is by using the underlying psychology of selling. Like we discussed, this involves doing the following:

  • Properly using the pain-versus-pleasure paradigm throughout your funnel
  • Creating an irresistible offer that appeals to your audience
  • Using the vehicle of a story to create a relationship with your prospects and leads
  • Reeling them in with a very compelling hook, headline and framework
  • Testing, poking and prodding until you get things just right

Without getting lost in too much detail, sales funnels are effectively where you’ll bring together numerous disciplines. You’ll create an irresistible offer, develop a solid weeks-long email sequences, segment based on user actions, create persuasive sales letters and headlines, and then split-test to oblivion. In fact, if you don’t get it right on the very first go, don’t be discouraged. You need to test to figure out where the funnel is effectively broken.

How Do Funnels Work?

The concept of a sales funnel is simple. It moves a prospect from essentially just coming into contact with you, to actually spending money with you. But the best and most impressive part about sales funnels are that they can literally take your business through an exponential rise almost overnight. Now, no one is guaranteeing you riches here. But this very concept in business can certainly fuel growth at any stage. Understand and leverage a sales funnel, and you’ll understand how you create explosive, almost-overnight results.

The Stages Of A Funnel

Stage 1: Awareness

If you’re setting out to build a sales funnel, ClickFunnels has great pre-built funnels. Yes, you can use those. Or, you can build one from scratch. Now, no matter what type of funnel you’re building (i.e. webinar funnel, high ticket funnel, or coaching funnel, for example), you need to draw people in and make them aware of you. Often, that involves giving them some bait. What’s the right bait for your audience?

If you know the story about Brunson’s business, you know that when he effectively changed up his bait to present his 108 Proven Split-Test Winners, he began getting in his dream customers. In fact, prior to that, he dreaded work because he wasn’t serving the right people. To serve the right people, you need to present them with the right bait to draw them in. That’s where you build awareness.

Really, this has to be strategic. Think about the bait you’ll use to create awareness. That bait might be a podcast, it might be a blog post, it might be a free ebook, a cheatsheet, a checklist, a video, or something else for that matter. It doesn’t matter the format. What matter is the strategic positioning for your audience. That’s where all things sales funnel related starts. That’s where you combine the art with the science to give you a strong foothold.

Stage 2: Interest

Once you’ve got their attention and they’re aware of you, the next stage is interest. This doesn’t happen immediately. You have to form a bond with the prospect. This is where they begin conducting extensive research into the problem. If you can help them solve that problem through say an email sequence, or by delivering valuable nuggets of information, then you’ll definitely have their interest (and not just their awareness).

Stage 3: Decision

The third stage of the funnel is the decision. This is where they become convinced to buy whatever it is that you’re peddling. Ways to help speed this along are things like offering up social proof. That certainly drives the decision. But also by creating a deep bond between yourself and the prospect. You have to become relatable to them. You have to be fallible. Expose your vulnerabilities. It might seem awkward, but that’s how you connect with others.

Stage 4: Action

While this might be the final stage of the sales funnel for most, it’s not for all. When you have a buyer, that’s not the end of the equation. The goal is to turn that buyer into a raving fan. You do that by overdelivering value. If you can do that in every stage of your sales funnel, you’ll ultimately win this game. So don’t skimp on the value. Go out of your way to help. Even if you have to help people in the very beginning more or less for free. Do it anyhow.

For additional practical techniques for building sales funnels to grow your business, access the free download “New Funnel Cookbook”.

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