How to create an amazing sales funnel for your service businessBlog, 02/02/18
Go to any successful marketing or business blog today and you will come across a few things:
- A free e-book
- A free checklist
- A newsletter pop-up
- A free consultation
These are just some of the lead magnets that are widely used by businesses worldwide.
Because traditional marketing and sales no longer work for modern consumers.
People no longer become customers thanks to one single ad (although it still works from time to time); you will have to be patient and lead them through a few stages or cycles to convert them into customers.
How exactly do you do that?
By using a sales funnel.
Don’t know what a sales funnel is?
Don’t worry; we’ll cover everything that you need to know about it in today’s post.
What is a sales funnel?
Imagine the shape of a funnel.
The top is wide and the bottom is narrow.
Next, pour water into the funnel.
Due to the funnel’s narrow end, the large amounts of water that you poured before is now flowing out more finely – more focussed.
That is exactly how sales funnels work.
You bring in readers through blog posts, case studies, and what not; then you nurture your readers through lead magnets such as e-books or whitepapers.
Finally, you convert your leads into potential customers by offering them things like a free demo or trial.
Think of it as like a fine dining restaurant; you start off with an appetiser, then an entree, and finally, dessert.
Sales funnels are a natural way to convert leads into paying customers without bothering or forcing them too much.
In fact, leads who are qualified through proper sales funnels are 3x more likely to convert compared to traditional sales processes.
You can even have a sales funnel that increases a customer’s lifetime value through upsells or cross sales – it’s that effective.
Why do you need a sales funnel?
As we’ve mentioned earlier, traditional marketing and sales is not going to cut it in today’s generation.
With skepticism at an all time high, you’re going to have earn trust from your customers to make a sale.
And no, “trust” is not earned by saying that your products are the best in the world or your product has made this guy and that guy a multi-millionaire.
Those days are long gone.
Now, you’ll have to actually give something of value to your target audience to earn their trust.
Here are some reasons why you need a sales funnel now:
Funnels are the best way to convert cold traffic into warm leads.
Walk up to a stranger and try to sell him your amazing $799 course that you know is crazy valuable.
I can guarantee you this; you’ll sell one or two out of 100 tries.
There’s no way you are going to make money off people who don’t know a single thing about you and your business.
You need to “warm” up your target audience and nurture them along the way with valuable information and great offers.
The best (and easiest) way to do that is by using a sales funnel; you’re going to get way more conversions and revenue this way.
You’ll be able to earn more revenue and profits
Customers who are acquired through sales funnels are customers who are engaged with your products and services.
That is good.
A customer who is engaged throughout your sales funnel is also likely to be a customer with a high lifetime value.
This means that you’ll be able to upsell and cross-sell even more of your products with a higher margin.
Because the cost of acquiring a customer is no longer there. You’ve got to understand that retaining a customer is much, MUCH cheaper than getting a new customer – more profits for you.
There’s also another important concept to understand; 20% of your existing customers make up for 80% of your profits.
You may know this as the Pareto principle.
By using sales funnels, you’ll be able to generate more profit from your top clients.
You are literally leaving money on the table by not having a sales funnel to upsell to your current customers
You’ll acquire the best leads more efficiently and save a lot of time along the way
Let’s be honest here.
How many times have you chased a lead only to get turned down at the end?
Those are called bad leads and they will ruin your business if you don’t act now.
Time IS money; stop wasting your time and resources chasing after leads who won’t become valuable customers.
You don’t have time to sit around persuading people – let an automated sales funnel do that for you. And no, chasing after bad leads is not “hustling”.
There is a fine line between hustling and a complete waste of time – be wise.
With a good sales funnel, you’ll be able to qualify leads who will become customers. You’ll be able to tell the difference between leads who are serious about your product vs. the ones who are not interested.
That way, you’ll have more time to work on the growth side of your business.
You’ll have a better sales organisation and customer management
Having a sales funnel allows you to be more efficient and organised in your customer’s journey.
You don’t have to keep calling and e-mailing every single customer in your database; you’ll have a set of steps that do that efficiently.
If the funnel doesn’t work? Scrap it and use a new one – it’s that easy.
Unlike traditional sales, you have a better insight of your customers along the funnel. If they don’t come back after the lead magnet stage, then you know that there is something wrong with the offer.
All of these information makes your customer relationship management so much easier. There’s no need for tens and thousands of dollars just to figure out the insights of your target audience.
TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU
What the heck is that?
They stand for the top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU), and bottom of the funnel (BOFU).
These are the stages that you’ll have to qualify your target audience through to get highly-qualified leads.
We’ll explain the stages in detail later.
You can also apply the same steps and techniques in this guide to the standard Awareness -> Interest -> Decision -> Action sales funnel and its variations.
Will this work for service businesses?
The funnel is made for service businesses. Consulting businesses, gyms, wedding planners – you can use an automated sales funnel to streamline your business.
Before we move on, creating an automated sales funnel would obviously require some sort of automation.
Tools to help improve your sales funnel
Since we are talking about automation here, you are going to need some tools and applications to help you out.
Landing page builders
99% of the time, you are going to need a landing page for your business. If you are a web developer or you have access to one, you can set up a beautiful landing page on your website easily.
If not, ClickFunnels is your savior. ClickFunnels allows you to set up a landing page easily in no time. You don’t have to worry about not having technical skills either – everything can be done through a drag and drop interface.
ClickFunnels also integrates sales funnels in its application. So you’ll have a streamlined funnel that leads users from the landing page to your purchase page which saves a lot of time.
Unbounce is another great tool for landing pages if ClickFunnels is not for you. You can also check out LeadPages and InstaPage if you would like to compare the features between each landing page builder.
E-mail marketing and automation
E-mail is one of the best tools to bring in revenue and leads to your business. Where else do you think you’re going to send offers and information to your leads?
ConvertKit is a great tool to automate e-mails for small businesses. You’re able to automate your marketing e-mails from the TOFU stage to the final stages of your sales funnel.
Content marketing and social promotion tools
If you have great content, you’re going have to put in work to promote that content. With tools like Buffer, doing that is easy.
Buffer allows you to schedule and automate your social media posts (Twitter, Facebook etc.) ahead of time. This means that you don’t have to waste time logging in each and every social media account to share your latest blog post.
IFTTT is another amazing tool to help with automation of content. Think of IFTTT as a switch; when one action is performed, something else happens.
For instance, you can set up IFTTT to automatically share your post on other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram when you publish a post on Facebook.
Customer relationship management (CRM) and sales funnel tools
Understanding your customer’s insights and habits is important in creating an effective. A CRM allows you to do just that.
With CRM’s you have a ton of advantages such as being able to sort between leads who are more likely to become a paying customer than the ones who are not – a great time saver.
Most CRM’s also come with marketing automation tools. This means your sales funnel can be automated right from the sign-up stage up to up-selling your products to current customers.
If you want a complete automated solution to your sales funnel, consider investing in CRM’s.
Now that you’ve got a good understanding of the tools to help you with your funnel, let’s get on to actually building a funnel.
Top of the funnel (TOFU)
The top of the funnel is the stage where the first visitors to your website or business lies. This is the part where your target demographic are introduced to your business.
At this stage, what you offer to your target audience must be valuable and most of the times, free.
This means that you should never, ever sell your products or services to individuals who are at the TOFU stage; you’re going to waste your time and resources that way.
The easiest and most common way to do this is by content e.g blog posts, articles, or info pages. Your job here is to educate and help your target audience.
How to create valuable content
This part is easy; find your target audience’s pain points and problems. If you have done your market research, you can extract the information from your buyer persona to create great content.
Let’s say that you’re running a coaching business for small business owners. You can write a blog post with the headline “5 things that are slowing down the growth of your business” for example.
Of course, don’t write nonsense and fluff in your content. Write down things that are actually helpful to your target audience.
Don’t worry about giving away too much information; the more knowledgeable and valuable your content is, the more authority and trust you will build in your business.
Here are some article ideas to help you get off the ground:
- 5 tips to (insert your target audience’s goals here e.g grow your business)
- 7 mistakes that are causing (insert your target audience’s problems here)
- How to’s and guide posts (like this article that you are reading right now)
You can also do roundups from other articles and experts in your niche if you are struggling with article ideas.
Here’s how to do it:
Gather 6-10 articles on one of your target topics. So, if you want to write a roundup article on the key to success for small businesses, all you have to do is find 6-10 articles that talk about that and do a short review for each article.
You don’t have to write articles all the time for your content; you can do some of these too:
- Infographics and images
How to generate awareness and traffic to your content
As we’ve mentioned earlier, writing great content is useless without promotion. Even if you write the best blog post in the world, it’s worthless if no one knows about it.
So, how do you generate traffic to your content?
The fastest and most simple way to do that is by running Facebook ads for your content. Instead of running ads for a product, you should try to run ads for your content instead.
You can also post your content in places where your audience hangs out e.g Reddit, Facebook groups and communities, LinkedIn groups.
Your niche’s forums and websites such as Quora are also a great way to generate traffic; help your target audience by giving thoughtful and valuable answers to their questions and problems.
Then, plug in your content or website for them to learn more from your content.
You can also do SEO for your website to generate organic traffic. Coincidentally, the tactics that we’ve mentioned are also the tactics that you can use for your site’s SEO efforts to improve your rankings.
Middle of the funnel (MOFU)
The MOFU stage involves two stages:
- Lead generation
- Lead nurturing
Once you are done with your content, the next thing do is to include a call-to-action in your article or post. Even if you have a great post, your target audience won’t take action if you don’t ask them to.
The point of a CTA is to generate leads for your business. You can either collect more information from them or lead them directly to your offer, although we recommend that you nurture your leads slowly instead of selling your services upfront.
An effective CTA must be:
- Valuable and helpful to your readers
- Simple and quick
- Free if possible
Here are some call-to-actions to include in your content.
A direct CTA persuades your readers to take action on one of your offers.
For instance, if you are writing articles for a business blog, your direct call-to-action is a link at the bottom of the post that leads visitors to your contact page.
You can also include things like “Call us now for a free consultation” at the bottom of your post. Other examples are including links to your product pages or landing page.
Free e-book or checklist
Include a free e-book or checklist at the bottom of your post to generate leads. You can have an e-book like “A guide to getting your first 10 clients or “A free 10 step checklist for small business owners”.
You can get creative with what you’re offering in your e-books or checklists; guides to growing a business have been done to death. The more creative you are, the more you’ll set apart yourself from the crowd.
You have to decide the information you want to extract from your audience with this method. We recommend asking for an e-mail to download the resources; you can ask for names too but remember: keep it simple.
Tools and widgets
One of the most effective CTA’s is to include a free tool for your readers. Example, if you are running a consulting business, offer your readers a tool that calculates their profits and revenue at different price points.
A tool is more likely to attract leads as they are interactive and hands-on. People want to feel like they are doing something, so give them something to do; which is why things like checklists and tools are so powerful.
This tactic, made popular by Brian Dean, is an incredibly powerful to generate leads.
The tactic revolves around adding bonus content in exchange for information (signups, e-mails, etc.)
For instance, if you have an article with the headline “10 tips for to bring more traffic to your website”, you can include a call-to-action for your readers to download a PDF form of the article.
The PDF form, however, includes 3 additional tips in addition to the 10 initial tips. Everybody loves free information which is why this lead bait is so effective.
The next time you write an article with lists, remove a few of them from the original article and include it in your content upgrade.
You may have some readers who’ve encountered your TOFU content but did not take action on your CTA’s.
You can utilise Facebook pixels and Google’s AdWords platform to retarget your ads to readers to revitalise awareness.
This guy below does it right:
Your call-to-actions are not limited to these options, be creative.
Now that you’ve captured a healthy amount of leads for your business, it’s time for lead nurturing.
You want to achieve a few goals during the lead nurturing process:
- Tell your leads why your solution is better than everyone else’s
- Move your leads from the awareness stage (cold) to the ready-to-convert stage (warm)
- Position your business as a solution to your leads’ problems and pain points
This is where e-mail marketing shines. You’re going to warm up your leads by offering them even more information.
The 3 goals that we’ve mentioned can be achieved through various methods. Here are some tried and tested ones that have been used successfully by businesses worldwide.
Case studies are proof that what you are offering is effective; there is nothing that can build trust in your business as easily as case studies.
If you have had a successful client before, write down what you did to help that person achieve success in an easy to read manner.
The most important thing to include in your case studies is the results. Potential clients love seeing what you have achieved for your previous clients; they want to know that you can do the same too to themselves.
In a nutshell, your case study should have:
- Who was your client?
- What was his/her problem?
- What did you do to solve that problem?
- What were the results of your solution?
Seminars and webinars are a great way to prepare your leads for the buying stage.
If you are a natural speaker, you can convey your business’ advantages and solutions to your target audience more effectively than text.
These are some points to include in your webinar:
- What are your target audience’s pain points and issues?
- Why are the effects of those pain points?
- Why should your target audience solve them?
- What is your solution?
- How can your solution help them with their issues?
- Why is your solution the best one in the market?
Webinars are not far off from traditional copywriting. You identify your audience’s pain points, understand their problems, and offer them a solution – it’s not rocket science.
One thing that separates the two however, is that you need to tell your audience why your business is a solution to their problems.
Just like copywriting, don’t talk about your advantages; talk about what your business can do for them.
Don’t say things like “Our marketing team is made up of experts from company A” or “We have the best analytics technology in Australia” – they don’t mean a damn thing to your audience.
Say things like “Our services will grow your revenue by 50% in 3 months”, “We will bring in 20 more clients for you in 90 days”. That’s what your leads want to hear – a solution to their problems.
You see businesses doing this a lot; it works.
Remember, the goal of the MOFU stage is to convince leads that you are the best solution to their problems.
One of the ways to do that is by comparing your offers to previous solutions. Don’t get us wrong – comparing is NOT attacking.
Don’t attack your competitors by saying that their business model sucks, they are taking all your money, etc. Attacking is a sign of weakness and you don’t want to have that reputation within your business.
Instead, focus on your advantages and leverage that to get more clients.
For instance, you know that competitor A is doing great in the business consulting niche but they don’t work with small businesses; well, now you have your selling point.
However, don’t compete on price. Offering lower prices is not a sustainable business model nor is it an “advantage”. You want to compete on value in service businesses, not prices.
There are plenty of things that can be done in the MOFU stage but these 3 are the most effective and practical ones.
Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)
Once you’ve qualified your leads to the BOFU stage, there are only outcomes:
They either buy from you or they don’t.
With all of the qualifying that you’ve done earlier, you’ll be able to spot the leads to turn into clients.
At this stage, your leads have known all about you and your strong points; it’s time to be direct.
Your offers at this stage should be:
- Extremely targeted and relevant to your target audience’s problems
- An incentive for them to take action
- A branch of your core offer (which we’ve covered in an earlier post)
There a few ways to do that.
Getting on the phone or meeting your leads face-to-face are crazy effective ways to gain a client.
If you are a natural sales merchant, consultations are the best choice for you.
Leads who are skeptical even after they’ve gone through the sales funnel can be converted easily by talking to them. Of course, you have to be charismatic and influential; we’ll teach you how to do that in a later post.
Audit and assessments
Unlike consultations, you can perform an audit for your clients to help them figure out what’s wrong with their business.
Often times, you can spot gaps or holes in their businesses which helps in two things: a) building trust and authority and b) give your leads something of value
Assessments are also a great way to showcase your skills and experience to your leads; you can convince them that you are the real deal and they’re going to benefit a lot by working with you.
We’ve covered this in a previous blog post but essentially, you are offering your leads a portion of your core offer.
For example, if your core offer is a $2,000 3-month course, take a small portion out of that offer something like a 2-week $299 offer for your leads – make it small yet valuable.
This technique works with any service businesses. If you can’t come up with an irresistible offer, here’s a tip to help you.
Break down your core offer or your business model into smaller parts. Then, remove the parts that take up a lot of time.
Finally, ditch the parts that bring you the majority of your revenue. The part(s) that you have left is your irresistible offer.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, it’s very difficult to sell a high-ticket offer to your leads. A better way to sell your core offer is by upselling to existing customers, not new ones.
Now that you’ve got a good grasp of your sales funnel, it’s time to put it in action.
An effective sales funnel template for you to use for your business
We’ve come up with a template for you to adapt and adjust to your business’ niche.
This template provides a base for you to generate more leads and clients for your service business. It is important to perform split tests and make adjustments every now and then to maximise your results.
For this template, we’re going to assume that we are running a marketing consultancy business.
Step 1: Write (or film) great content
Everything starts with valuable content.
Think of one pain point that is relevant for all of your target demographics. In our case, we have a few of them:
- Problems in getting more customers or clients to the business
- Problems with managing cashflow
- Problems with utilising digital marketing (FB ads, Google ads, etc.)
Ideally, you’d want to create valuable content for each of the pain points but for this template, we’ll go with the 1st problem: problems in getting customers or clients to the business.
If you are an expert in the topic, writing content should not be an issue. If you can’t, no worries; we have a template for you.
Writing is not your only option. You can make videos (like Travis), podcasts, and infographics too.
Your headline determines if someone is going to read your article or not. Go for something powerful – a hook that will make your target feel like they have to read it.
Here are some formulas for you.
- (pain point) + (number) + (noun) e.g “Struggling with getting more sales? 5 things that are stopping you”
- (pain point) + (urgent action) e.g “Want to have customers? Do this one thing NOW”
- (call out your target audience) + (pain point) e.g “Small business owners: Here’s why you don’t have a million dollars in sales”
Feel free to experiment with your headlines; we suggest reading blogs like Copyblogger and other copywriting websites to learn more about effective headlines.
Start off with a question or statement that draws attention to your content. Example:
- Are you still struggling with getting more customers even after reading countless business blogs and books?
- Is your business struggling to get more sales in the past few months?
- Your business is stagnating and your cold calls are failing.
Your intro has to achieve two things: make it resonate with your target audience and make the topic that you are talking about feel important.
Next, your intro has to have a promise. Promise your readers something that will help them solve their problems. Samples:
- We know that getting more sales is the #1 goal for your business but it’s hard…. its freaking hard. But, what if – what if you can do 5 things right now that will make the process 10x easier AND faster?
- Here’s the thing; 9 out 10 businesses fail because the owners don’t know how to market effectively – they blow their budget on useless things. We want to help you avoid that in today’s article, and we’ll do it in 5 simple steps.
Here’s a thing to keep in mind: don’t overpromise. If you promise your readers 5 steps, then make sure that 5 of those steps are valuable enough for your readers to spend their time on – no nonsense, please.
This step is simple. Write damn good content. We’ve written the word “valuable” for 13 times already so far; it’s that important.
These are some good things to include in your content.
- Tips and techniques that are actionable which can solve your reader’s problems
- Examples of where the techniques mentioned in the article have brought success to someone
- Detailed guides and how-to’s
- Infographics and helpful images
- Quotes and insights from industry experts
The word actionable is bolded because the amount of content with useless tips and techniques in them are insanely high.
Giving readers tips that they can actually do right now e.g an in-depth guied on setting up FB ads is good; generic advice like “Advertise on social media” is pure nonsense.
Include something for your readers to take action. We’ve gone through this in detail earlier, but we’ll include the call-to-actions that you can put in your content.
- Direct CTA
- Content upgrade
- Free e-book or PDF
- Free checklist
- Free tools or widgets
Step 2: Marketing and promoting your content
There’s a reason why it’s called content marketing; you have to market and promote it just like you would with a product or service.
Great content + poor promotion = no one knows about your business
Poor content + great promotion = useless traffic; no leads and no clients
Poor content + poor promotion = waste of time and resources
Great content + great promotion = more leads and clients
There are many ways to promote your content but it’s important to not do too many things at once.
If you have content sharing automation apps like Buffer, then great; you save a lot of time that way but if you don’t, focus on one platform only.
In our case, we’ll go with Facebook.
Run Facebook ads for your content
Instead of running ads for your service, try doing it with your article as the hook.
You’ll be surprised at the results; people are more receptive to articles rather than straight up offers. Valuable articles seem more “friendly” and knowledge is always sought after in the business niche.
We have a great Facebook ads tutorial over at our blog, check that out.
Post your article on local business groups on Facebook
Facebook groups are a treasure trove for posting good content. Be careful though, spam has been a major issue in many Facebook groups especially the ones without proper admins.
With niche-based Facebook groups, you’ll be able to deliver your content to people who are relevant to your target audience. Posting valuable content on Facebook groups is also a great way to establish authority in your brand.
Help people with their problems
We’re still talking about Facebook groups here, maybe some of your friends; you will come across people who ask for help.
In the small business niche, it is common to see owners posting on Facebook to ask for help and advice on growing the business.
Do what you’re supposed to do as a great person – offer them grade A tips that will help them solve their problems. You can pitch your content only and only if you’ve provided a valuable comment.
Step 3: E-mail marketing and generating leads
Now, it’s time for you to follow up with your TOFU visitors.
Collect their e-mails through more offers (e-books, webinars, content upgrade) and send them e-mails to increase the awareness of your business.
For us, we’d like to send them 4 emails over 4 weeks to let them know about these things:
- Case studies
- How can we provide a solution to our target audience’s problems
- Why our solution is the best in the market
- What is our solution and how can our target audience get them
The flow is logical yet simple; you pump up the awareness of your services by gradually sending your leads e-mails about your business.
Some people make the mistake of being too subtle as they are worried about coming off as too strong and salesy in their e-mail marketing; don’t be too subtle.
As much as you’d like to provide valuable content, you have to make sure that your target audience understands what your intentions are.
Step 4: Send your leads to the landing page of your offer
After step 3 is done, it’s time to convert your leads into customers.
Make sure that your landing page is set up well. Send your leads an e-mail to let them know about the offer.
Your offer can come in the form of:
- Audits and assessments
- Irresistible offers
If you’ve managed to bring your leads to this stage, your conversion rates will be great.
If you’ve lost some leads along the way or doesn’t convert at the landing page; don’t worry.
You’ll have to run retargeting ads to bring them back to your offer. Facebook has a guide on how to set up remarketing ads over here.Google also has a page dedicated to setting up retargeting ads over at their info page.
That covers the basic template for an automated sales funnel. The tools that we’ve mentioned above is going to help you a lot in making the funnel more effective.
We hope that you’ve learned a lot from this post. Sales funnels are a great way to drive in more clients and conversions for your service business; don’t neglect them.
As we’ve promised earlier, we have a special offer for business owners like you today….
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