When your vacuum cleaner stops working what do you do? Unclog the blockages. While simplistic, this is the same approach successful business owners take when sales get stuck or slow down. To be effective, your vacuum cleaner needs to have air flow through it. Likewise, to draw in more customers and increase sales, your sales funnel needs to flow smoothly. The good news is that there are a variety of techniques you can use to identify and overcome blockages in your sales funnel.
What Is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is a common marketing strategy used to help understand your customers and how to sell to them. It helps to visualize the sales process from a customer’s perspective. This makes it easier to identify problem areas in your sales cycle.
Let’s say "A" is when your customer finds the product, and "B" is when your customer buys it. Your sales funnel tracks how your customers move from A to B. It’s called a funnel because it’s generally wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. You start out with a wide group of potential customers, and that group narrows to a small group of committed customers. This is the general sales funnel process. Successful business owners know how to make the most of this process by widening the base. The best way to widen the base of your sales funnel is to make it easier for your customers to buy your product.
With this in mind, anything that makes the process of going from A to B easier for your customers can widen the funnel. You can also look at this from another angle. Anything that makes going from A to B difficult is considered a blockage. There are several techniques small-business owners can use to identify common blockages.
How to Identify Blockages in Your Sales Funnel
Making the purchase process faster and easier starts with designing a process from the point of view of the customer. Do your customers tend to stop at a certain point in the sales cycle? If you can pinpoint what those pain points are, you can identify your blockages. If you don’t know, map out the process your customers take from one end of the sales funnel to the other. Study the concerns and motivations of your customers at each stage in the sales cycle. Identify places where your customers get stuck in the process.
For example, limited delivery or payment options can cause some customers to lose interest at checkout. So adding additional options can decrease blockages. It may be that your sales process is too long. For example, studies show that fewer clicks create happier customers. In other words, you can increase sales by making the purchase process faster.
One way to identify blockages is to track sales metrics in relation to your marketing channel. For example, you can monitor and track sales by social media, webinars, sales demos or referrals. Each marketing channel generates its own sales funnel. If sales decline, it helps to know which marketing channel contributed the most to the decline. Then you can focus in on the blockages in that specific sales funnel.
Identifying the blocks is the easy part. The harder and more rewarding part is unblocking them.
How to Overcome Different Types of Blockages
The primary reason for blockages is lack of customer motivation. Unblocking is anything that can re-motivate your customers.
There are two steps in the process. First, you want to keep your customers in your sales funnel. You don’t want them to leave. Then, you want to make it easier or faster for your customers to make a purchase. This is why exceptional customer service is such a great business strategy.
Another common strategy is the automation of follow-up messages. Automating your messaging process allows you to respond to your customers with the same high quality 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you follow up with customers. Instead, set up email to go to your customers based on their lack (or level) of activity. For example, you can schedule a follow-up email for all abandoned carts. You can send coupons to customers on birthdays or holidays. Developing a good follow-up strategy for each sales funnel is a great way to keep customers interested in your products. Automating your follow-up strategy is how you can do it without having to invest much time.
According to one study, online retailers lose billions in potential sales due to frustration. The frustration is created from obstacles in the shopping experience. These obstacles are due to blockages in the sales funnel. It doesn’t matter how good your marketing is if your checkout process is flawed. It doesn’t matter how good your webinar is if you don’t accept your customer’s favorite payment method. Whether the sales funnel is through social media or a webinar, customer frustration can hurt sales. The more you can do to reduce blockages, the more you reduce customer frustration and grow sales, and if you really want to take your business to the next level, look for ways to take advantage of the blockages in your competitor’s sales funnel.