The term “sales funnel” has been used by marketing and business gurus ad nauseam. There are multitudes of information on the Internet covering how to structure, optimize and automate sales funnels, all which vary greatly depending on your business model and sales structure.


While it’s imperative to create a sales funnel unique to your business, I’d like to show you WHY it is so important to create one as well as the core components each sales funnel should include.


Let’s start with the basics. What is a sales funnel?


A sales funnel is a system used to convert people who are interested in buying your product or service into paying customers. It’s the buying process you will guide customers through when they are considering purchasing from you.


Why is a sales funnel so important?


Time is a precious commodity for business owners, and business development can take a considerable amount of time. If most of the repetitive work of sales was off your plate, imagine how much more time you’d have. What if tasks such as writing follow-up emails, developing proposals or creating agreements took a few minutes versus several hours?


A streamlined sales funnel reduces the time and energy you need to expend on these functions and eliminates the need to recreate the wheel every time you get a new lead.


What are the core components of a sales funnel?


A) Lead Identification – It’s incredibly important to get to know the person you are selling to. Where do they live? Where do they work? What keeps them up at night? What do they do in their free time? Identify and document your ideal customer profile(s), complete with demographics and psychographics, and know what makes them tic so you can make it EASY for them to buy from you.


B) Lead Qualification – Even though a lead may look perfect on paper, you need to qualify them. In other words, do they exhibit a pain point that can be solved by your product or service? Can they afford to pay for the solution? Are they serious about making a purchase? Implement a standardized way to qualify a potential lead and follow it each and every time.


C) Sales Conversation(s) – After you qualify the lead, you can move on to influencing their decision to buy. Influence does not mean manipulate, cajole, or convince. It simply means you are going to openly share the benefits of your product or service in a way that specifically addresses their pain points. Depending on the price and complexity of your product or service, this process may take anywhere from one meeting/conversation to several months or even years. The key here is consistency and commitment to building a trusted relationship with the qualified lead.


Because this process will most likely include multiple points of contact, consistently using a CRM (customer relationship management) system will be invaluable to you. Read more about why you need a CRM here.


D) Proposal – You’ve qualified your lead and have ample evidence to prove this person is interested in purchasing your product or service. It’s now time to submit a proposal. This document should be standardized, so only minor adjustments are necessary before you send it to your potential customer. If a proposal is not necessary in your industry, skip this step.


E) Agreement — A standardized working agreement will help to protect you as a business owner and ensure both parties are clear on the details of the working relationship. Again, the less time needed to customize this document before sending it to your customer, the sooner you can get to work and get paid! Always have a licensed attorney review your working agreement before implementing it.


F) Onboarding – Think of customer onboarding as the steps following acceptance of the agreement. What do you need from them in order to begin work? What needs to be scheduled or planned to support your working relationship? Who will do what, when?


Finding, qualifying and onboarding the right customers for your business can take an immense amount of energy and effort. Defining the steps of your unique sales funnel and utilizing profiles, checklists, templates and a CRM system will ultimately preserve your energy.


Are you ready to work less and make more with your unique sales funnel? Our clients save an average of 200 hours per year!