Sales Funnels in Brief
The best definition of a sales funnel (also known as a revenue funnel or sales process) refers to the process that companies or websites lead customers through when buying products. A sales funnel is split into several steps, which differ depending on the particular sales model. 

At it's most basic the sales process is divided into four phases including:
  •  Awareness Phase – Prospecting for leads
  •  Leads - Cultivating a relationship
  • Prospects - Demonstrating value
  •  Sale - Closing a sale
'It’s critical that the sales funnel and lead generation activities are perfectly aligned, this ensures a smooth buying journey for the prospect, maximising conversion and minimising any loss of sales.'
Understanding Sales Funnels
To better understand the concept of a sales funnel and just how you can implement it in your own business, imagine a real-world funnel. At the top of the funnel, something is poured in, which filters down towards one singular destination. 

In an online or sales funnel, something similar occurs. At the top, lots of visitors arrive who may enter your funnel. However, unlike the real-world funnel, not all who enter the sales funnel will reemerge out from the other end. From blogging to social media to paid ads and everything in between, how the visitors arrive to your website has some impact on the success of your funnel. 
The Stages of a Sales Funnels
Stage 1: Awareness
Every stage of your funnel is important, however it is critical to treat those visitor right when they do arrive. After all without input at the top the whole process cannot work. Your sales funnel, through a variety of means, many of which you've already seen, such as email newsletter signups, ebook downloads, online quizzes and more, must entice those prospects enter into your sales funnel. 

The aim of your entire sales funnel and platform is to solve your potential customer's problem. When you know the problem, and you build content to draw them in, then offer them a product or service that solves their problem, your visitor will likely choose to opt-in to the start of your funnel in exchange for more information. However, getting to that stage takes work and you have to gain their awareness first. 

Once the visitor enters into your sales funnel, you've peaked their awareness. That's the first stage of the funnel complete. However, getting a prospect aware of you is no simple feat. Depending upon how they've arrived to your website (organically or through a paid ad), those potential customers might view your funnel differently and your opt-in rates may vary significantly. 

For example, when a customer finds you organically (through a Google search for example), that means you have some element of authority. When you have authority, potential prospects are more likely to enter into your funnel because they know that if they found you relevantly, that whatever it is that you're providing must be of a great value. 

Of course, regardless of how they enter into your funnel, your goal as a business 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. 

The truth? People are smart. They're not simply going to buy anything from anyone unless they feel there's an immense amount of value to be had there. Thus, your funnel needs to build that value and bake it in through a variety of means. But most importantly, you have to create a strong bond with your potential prospect, and that happens by being relatable, honest and transparent in your email warming sequence. 
Stage 2: Leads
One your lead enters into the top of the funnel you must gain their interest usually through an email sequence. You begin to relay stories to them that tie into who you are and how you've arrived to this point in your life. Brunson, in his book, Expert Secrets, calls this the Attractive Character. Are you a leader, an adventurer or an evangelist? Or, are you the reluctant hero whose journey happened almost by mistake, but you feel like you owe it to yourself and the world to convey something of great value? 

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.

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?

Ultimately you need to train your potential leads 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.
Stage 3: Prospects
The next stage is about converting those leads into prospects and asking them to make a decision. Getting prospects to make a decision isn't easy. The best way to get them there? Beyond the mystic arts of story telling, copywriting and building the habit of link-clicking, you need to have lots and lots of testimonials and reviews, the more the better. This is one of the most powerful ways that you can get people to take action.

If you are using paid ads you should also use Facebook and Google re-targeting to keep that awareness and interest high. For example, if you've ever noticed after leaving a website, that you begin to see their ad everywhere, there's a reason for that. Especially if they've already entered your sales funnel, this is a very powerful way to get your prospect to act.

For example, you could show them re-targeting ads that have video testimonials or reviews by other customers. If you have media publications that have written about you, you could take that opportunity to highlight those. When they see this in your sales funnel and you follow them around with re-targeting, it's simply an added element of exposure.

But however you get your prospect to decide, flipping that switch isn't simple. You need to present them with a great opportunity and use Robert Cialdini's 6 principles, outlined in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, in one way or another to move them through this stage: 
  •  Principle of reciprocity - This is achieved by delivering lots of value, either through whatever it is that you provided them as a free offer (lead magnet) in the very beginning, or in an ongoing exchange through your emails. 
  •  Principle of commitment & consistency - When people commit to something, they're far more likely to purchase from you. That's why getting them to agree to something like a free + shipping offer or by agreeing with something you've said in some way. This is a powerful principle in sales and if you pay attention to some of the best marketers in the world, you'll notice that they work fervently to get your commitment to something, even if it's very small in the beginning.  
  •  Principle of liking - When people like you (i.e. they relate to your stories) they are more likely to purchase something from you. How well you craft your story and convey that to your prospects is going to play a big role in whether they decide to act or not.  
  •  Principle of authority - How much authority do your products or services have? Are their respected people in your community that have endorsed it? Scientific studies that are backing it? Are you yourself an authority? All these elements come into play in this process.  
  •  Principle of social proof - Do you have social proof? Are people on social media raving or talking about how great your products or services are? Do you have some other type of social proof? Best-selling books? Something else? It's important that you present this to prospects if you do have them.  
  •  Principle of scarcity - How much scarcity have you baked into your email sequence? Again, people are smart, but when you apply the principle of scarcity, as in there are only a limited amount of some offer or time left before a discount expires or slots available for an online class, it entices people to take action.
Stage 4: Sales
The final stage of the sales funnel is the action that you're intending your prospect to perform. In most cases this is the purchase or sale. How well you move them through the different stages is going to set you up with a specific conversion rate. For example, if 100 people click on your offer and 10 people enter your sales funnel but only 2 people purchase, then you have a 2 percent conversion rate. 

However, the best part about this, is that if you know that sending 100 people to your site costs you $200, for example, but you get two people to convert at $300 each, then you have a $600 return on $200 invested (300 percent). When you know that, the entire game changes and you can infinitely scale your offers.

This how the world's best marketers scale out their businesses. They know the conversion value and they've tweaked and perfected their sales funnels, so they go after this with a vengeance by simply scaling out their offers. If you know that, by investing $1 you're going to get $3 back, you would surely invest $1 repeatedly.

Needless to say, getting to this stage is no simple feat. It takes an enormous amount of work and effort plus tracking. By implementing sales funnel software, such as the platform built by Russell Brunson, you can certainly cut down the headache, but there's still lots of work to be done. Copy needs to be well written, tracking pixels need to be set up and installed, email sequences need to be created and EVERYTHING tested. But that's what it takes if you want to succeed.

This complex and intricate concept can be applied in any business and can literally take you from a complete unknown to a global brand quickly through the art of scaling out a highly-converting offer. If that sounds appealing we can help
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