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What Is A Sales Funnel?

Small business owners often start out because they have expertise and passion in a particular field.  But to survive, they have to be fast learners.  They must be able to learn about all aspects of running a business and put their new knowledge into action quickly.  Being a wonderful craftsperson or expert isn’t enough.  You need to also be a good all-arounder.  For many, sales is the sticking point.  We like to think that just providing an excellent product or service and treating people well should be enough to make our business thrive.  But it isn’t.  We have to know a bit about sales, and one very helpful concept is that of the sales funnel.  Understanding the sales funnel helps you organize an effective and strategic marketing plan that will convert your web visitors into solid leads and then into concrete sales.

We call it a sales funnel for two reasons.  First, the model is very wide at one end and narrow at the other.  This is because the number of people expressing interest in any business is much greater than the number of people who actually make a purchase.  Second, marketing is the process of moving people from the wide end of the funnel where they have a general interest in a type of product or service to the narrow end where they are focused on purchasing from you.

Marketing Tactics for Points along the Sales Funnel

As people move through the sales funnel, different types of communication work best.  You have different mini-goals to reach the end goal of making a sale.  Their focus shifts from general to more and more specific questions as they go through their own decision making process.  An efficient digital marketing plan plots the prospect’s journey through the sales funnel.

At the wide, top of the sales funnel, the goal is to attract potential customers.  Social media is critical here.  It allows you to promote your content to a targeted audience by people sharing it with their friends, who tend to share their interests and values.  Search engine optimized content is another vital tool at this stage.  Your website and blog need to be easily found by people searching for what you offer.

As they become engaged and develop more specific concerns and queries, your blog content becomes even more important and you can also start to offer other ways for them to engage and learn more.  Include calls to action on your blog and site so people can join your email list and request e-books and other downloadable content.

To keep people moving through the sales funnel, you need to keep your focus on their user experience.   What do they want and need?  How do they prefer to receive information?  The more you focus on providing an excellent user experience to every visitor to your online real estate, the more easily they will move through your sales funnel.

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