WTF is a sales funnel?

If you’ve looked at pretty much any marketing webinar, workshop or how-to guide you’ll likely have come across these terms, like sales funnel, pipeline, audience acquisition, prospects, conversion.

They sound like the kind of things used in factories, or by companies with 45 staff and a Christmas party at the golf club. Ugh!

They do not sound like the kind of things used by small businesses run from a laptop in the spare bedroom. But they absolutely are. We just don’t need to call them that.

Imagine I asked you these 2 questions. Which of them can you more easily answer?

1) Tell me about your sales funnel.
2) What are you doing to get people to know that your business exists, and to encourage them to buy from you?

Plot Twist! It’s the same question, worded in different ways. With/without marketing industry jargon. Without/with an explanation.

So, Lesson No 1 for today.

If you don’t understand industry jargon – it’s not your failure to understand, it’s their failure to explain appropriately.

I expect a scientist on the news to explain things in a way the news-viewing audience can understand. I appreciate that, back in the lab, they’d talk to their fellow scientists using more, er… scientific language.

Ask people to explain what they mean. It’s not you being stupid, it’s them not being a great trainer and not using language appropriate for their audience.

And I totally expect you to call me out if I use industry jargon. I really try not to, but nobody’s perfect, eh?

OK, back to the stupid sales funnel. Sorry, I mean – ‘what you are doing to get people to know that your business exists, and to encourage them to buy from you’.

That’s what ALL marketing is – getting people to know you exist and encouraging them to buy from you. What makes it seem complicated is that there’s loads of different ways to do it and there’s loads of steps you can take people through from ‘hello’ to ‘thanks for your purchase’.

And I do encourage you to have steps that you take people through. Here’s why…

How not to do it, aka don’t be the LinkedIn guy

A couple of days ago I got a LinkedIn connection request. Fair enough. We had a few connections in common, no-one I’m particularly close to, but I’m not guarded about who I connect with so I went ahead.

Approximately 24 hours later, I get a message from my new connection, which basically said ‘Hi, I have a new service, would you like to check it out and sign up and tell your friends?’

Woah. Wow. Er, what?

If you got that message, how would it make you feel? Would you feel like a valued, potential customer?

Would you feel like they singled you out to make a connection because you have something in common, because they wanted to talk with you because they thought they could help you or you could help them?

Or would you feel like you were the recipient of cheap, lazy marketing action to try and get a quick sale? If you’d purchased their service, would you feel like you’d have a great experience with them?

If we think of ‘what you are doing to get people to know that your business exists, and to encourage them to buy from you’, my new LinkedIn connection had no steps between those 2!

And now we introduce, Clair talking about pasties…

‘I exist, now buy my thing’ kinda works if you’re a pasty shop. And you’re the only pasty shop in town.

But if there’s 3 pasty shops in town, potential customers need to know more about you to decide to choose you over the others.

And if the offer is ‘how to make your own pasty’, people will want to know more before deciding to buy, like how long it will take, if they need specialist equipment, how many it makes…

So, Lesson No 2 for today.

Think about everything you do from getting people to know you exist, to them buying from you. Write a list. Now put that list in order, that shows how your relationship with them grows and deepens as time goes on.

If your list is pretty much ‘I exist, now buy my thing’, please add some other steps in between.

Unless you’re the only pasty shop in town…

Here’s an example.

1: Where are your people?

2: How are you getting their attention?
posting things people like to share

3: How are you keeping their attention?
inviting them into my FB group to get free advice

4: How are you bringing them closer?
inviting them to join my email list to get my most special offers

5: How are you demonstrating what you do?
a free workshop with a step-by-step guide to something they need

6: What are you offering them? (make sure the above all ties in)
more stuff like the workshop, with bespoke advice

7: When are you offering that?
after they’ve been through the above steps

8: If they don’t purchase, what are you doing to keep them interested in you?
more free advice in the FB group, more webinars offered by email


Head swimming? Here’s a quick summary:

If you don’t understand the jargon someone uses, ask them to explain. It’s them, not you.

Think about how you communicate with potential customers from ‘here I am’ to ‘I have this for sale’ – what are the steps in between?

How would you feel if someone treated you the way you’re treating your potential customers?

Questions? Head over to my Small Business Support FB group for advice and ideas.

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