Imagine if someone came up to you in the street and asked you if you’d like to buy a $5,000 watch.
99.9999% of the time, you would say no to that offer.
Why? Well, apart from the fact that you might not want a watch (you are a ‘cold lead’ in that respect), there’s also the small issue of trust, recognition and authority. You don’t know who this person is, you’ve been given no reason to trust them and you’re probably not going to want to hand over any cash.
That’s why companies don’t do this. Instead, they give you fliers. Fliers are things you can choose to accept or throw away – but either way, they don’t cost you anything and you won’t feel that you’re being pressured into anything.
Other stores do something different: they give away freebies. Walk past Starbucks and you’ll often find them giving away free samples of their new drinks and cakes for you to try. Again, you can easily walk away if you’re not interested and you won’t feel you’re being strong-armed. If you like the free sample though, then you can come in and try whatever else they’re offering.
If you try and sell to people right away on your website though, then you’re the equivalent of someone trying to sell thousand dollar watches in the street. And if that’s the only thing you’re offering and the only way that your visitors can engage with you, then they’re just going to say ‘no thanks’ and leave, giving you no way to contact them again and no way to get them back. As you might have guessed, this is a poor strategy!
Try to imagine it from their perspective: they have typed ‘fitness tips’ into Google, found your page essentially by accident and now you’re trying to sell them your training program for $500. People do not make decisions on that basis unless they’re loaded with cash. They’ll see you’re trying to sell them, write you off as spam and then leave.
Now imagine the alternative: the sales funnel technique.
They do the same thing: they type in ‘fitness tips’ and they land on your site where they get some great information right away. That information is unique, interesting and useful but at the bottom, it tells the audience that if they want more great tips – your ‘5 Most Powerful Tips’ – then all they have to do is to enter their details to receive your free report.
There’s very little reason for them not to do this: you have demonstrated that you’re able to provide value and you’re offering something for free. The only price they pay, is to allow you to contact them in future – but as you will point out, they can always just unsubscribe if they don’t want to hear anything more from you.
They get their free report and once again, they find it is really good. At the same time though, they’re now getting emails from you – emails with highly engaging and interesting subject lines. The people who click those emails are now showing very good engagement and you can see that they’re the kinds of people that might be willing to buy from you.
Those people will receive an email on an automated basis that invites them to an exciting free conference where they can here you talk online about fitness. This is a great, rare opportunity and if they like what you’ve done so far, they should definitely get involved.
They do that and because they’ve gone so far out of their way to hear you and they’ve listened to the whole thing, they’ve now made the full transition to fan. They are now engaging with you in a big way and going out of their way to hear more from you. This makes a massive difference because in their own mind it will inform them that you are someone they’re interested in hearing more from.
Quick Psychology Lesson!
This relates to an interesting aspect of psychology called ‘cognitive dissonance’. Did you know that the best way to make someone like you is to get them to do things for you. Why? Because this creates a state of cognitive dissonance in their mind otherwise. The brain like congruence – it likes to see that your actions are consistent with your beliefs.
If you do something for someone that takes a lot of effort then, the brain assumes that you must really like them to have been willing to go to such lengths.
The same thing works here. If someone engages with your brand – if they rush to your seminar and wait for you to come online – they tell themselves that they must be big fans of your work!
At the same time, when someone has put a lot of effort into something, that then creates a strong motivation to ‘get something from it’. Your audience will want closure and the best way to do that is by buying from you!
After your free seminar, the next stage is to sell to them. This is them taking the next step and transitioning from a visitor or a fan into a paying customer. This is the point where they become willing to buy from you and where you can start making money.
BUT it’s not going to be the ‘big ticket’ item yet. Instead, you’re just going to sell them something very small. This very small thing is going to be something along the lines of an eBook, or a short course. It should cost anywhere from $5 to $50 but what it’s doing is demonstrating that they can buy from you and trust you.
Why Your Small Sale is So Important
This ‘small sale’ is a super important point to include in a sales funnel (and one that not everyone will know to include).
The basic idea behind this, is that you’re giving your audience the chance to buy from you without too much risk.
Because, as we saw with our watch salesman, one of the biggest ‘barriers to sale’ is risk. People are naturally risk averse and they hate the idea that they might hand over their cash, only for you to go running off into the sunset laughing at their stupidity. They need to see that they can buy from you and trust you.
And if they don’t know that, then getting them to spend $5,000 is going to be very hard. But now sell them something for $5 and you can get them to say ‘why not’? They’ve seen you can offer value from the other steps in your sales funnel and the risk of losing $5 is not too serious. So they take their chance. Only now, they know they can trust you, they know that you’re able to deliver value and their details will already be saved in your payment system.
That means that to make the big purchase, you only have to persuade them that your product is worth it and get them to take the plunge with one click. This is MUCH easier than trying to get them to take the plunge when they’ve never dealt with you before.
And finally, it’s off the back of that sale that you’re going to then sell your big ticket item. They’ve heard all your free content, they’ve read your ebook… but if they want to get the very most from you and if they want to see the very best, most powerful tips for their training, then they need to upgrade to your most expensive offer.
Alternatively, you might make multiple sales of products that increase in value gradually over time and that way each increase in cost will seem very small. This way, you are making ‘incremental’ increases in price and thus people will gradually increase the value that they’re spending with you and become increasingly likely to make the transition to the truly ‘big ticket’ items. See the chapter on pricing and ‘moving the free line’ for more on this.
But in short, that is how you sell a $5,000 product.
One More Important Point
One more important point is to understand and utilize the power of social influence and membership. This is one more tool you’re going to use to get people to really want to take the next step down your sales funnel – the idea of belonging to something and being a part of something and the idea of being ‘left out’ unless they take that step.
So you’re going to point out to your audience that buying your big ticket item means being a part of your movement, means getting the full experience and means seeing the VIP content that your ‘regular’ customers don’t get to see.
They’ll be part of an elite community and they’ll get access to top secret information!
The Five Touches
Hopefully you now understand how a sales funnel works and why it’s such an important tool for maximizing your sales.
At the same time though, it’s worth noting that the steps themselves don’t need to look like this. You might not have a mailing list, you might not have a webinar – but you can still create a funnel.
What’s important, is simply that you have a series of escalating ‘steps’, with each one increasing engagement and building your fan base further.
So the question now becomes: how many steps constitutes a ‘funnel’?
While this varies from case to case, the best answer is five. That’s because research tells us that it takes five touches to sell to someone. This means they should interact with your business at least five times before you try and shift your big ticket item. This is enough to take someone from being completely unaware of your brand, to being familiar enough with you that they are willing to put their money and their trust in your products.
What Constitutes a Sales Funnel?
We just looked at an example of a typical sales funnel and how it might work. We saw that you should utilize five unique steps but that these steps could vary depending on your business and your preference.
So now the question is: what options do you have for your steps? What kinds of touches can you employ to get the maximum amount of custom?
Here are some potential ‘touches’ you can use to bring your customers in and to establish that all important trust and familiarity before you sell to them:
The First Touch
The most obvious first touch that a lot of sites and businesses will use is the blog. This is a great place to provide some free value, to demonstrate your knowledge and authority and to provide tips and advice. Your blog should include free information and articles relating to your business/niche and you should work to make sure these are well thought-out, well written and provide tons of value. The more unique, useful and insightful information you offer here, the more people are going to trust you and believe that you can offer the value that they’re looking for and that is going to be worth them paying for!
A squeeze page is a page that is all about trying to get people to subscribe to a mailing list. You can drive people here using PPC and other forms of advertising and then simply set out an excellent case for them to subscribe to you. It can work alongside a blog or it can work on its own.
You can use YouTube as an excellent place to have your first touch. Here, you can create a video you know people will search for and attempt to offer some real value, or you can create a video like the one Tai Lopez uses that we discussed earlier. The great thing about a video is that it is so engaging and will be so effective at grabbing attention, holding it and allowing you to convey your points to an audience that is listening.
There’s no reason that your first touch needs to be on your own site. If you write a guest post for another big channel, then you can get their fans and followers to find your content and you can then bring those viewers and readers over to your own channels.
The Second Touch
A mailing list is a great second touch and one that the vast majority of brands will use. Email still has a great level of conversion and open-rate and this is due to the fact that it is so personal and direct. It also means you’re not relying on a third party (like Google or Facebook) and it allows you to address your audience directly.
The next best thing to a mailing list is social media. If you can get someone to like you on Facebook, or to follow you on Twitter, then you are giving yourself the opportunity to contact them in future. And like subscribers, people who follow you on social media are taking that psychological step that makes them ‘fans’.
You can also try alternative options for your social media too. SnapChat for example has a surprisingly high engagement!
Forum, Comments Section
Inviting people to take part in a community is a brilliant way to get them excited for your brand and committed to the idea. Once people start having conversations in a group with your name on it, they will feel like they ‘belong’ and it will be very hard for them to turn off from your brand and to break their engagement.
The YouTube equivalent of this is to get someone to subscribe to your channel. When they do this, they’ll then see new videos as you post them and this is an excellent way to get them to see your new content and to reach them with new promotions and offers.
The Third Touch
The third touch should be something that requires them to take another action and it should be something a bit lengthier that forces them to engage with your content. A free report is a great example of this and it’s a good chance for you to demonstrate the value you’re capable of delivering.
Video seminars are great because they are live events. This means people will need to prepare to listen to them and will hopefully be looking forward to the event as they anticipate it. Making people wait for something is a perfect way to get them to want it more! What’s more, a live video seminar is something that people will feel very engaged with and that will give them a very direct interaction with you – it’s like they’re able to talk to you in person!
Similar, is to offer some kind of free chat or consultation. Going back to our example of selling a training program for instance, you could offer a free ‘fitness consult’ and recommend some exercises, diet plans etc. to your audience.
This can be one-to-one if you’re willing to put the time in (it’s a fantastic way to build true fans). Another option though is to have a group chat, such as one on Google Hangouts. Want to make this even more exciting? Make it invite only!
The Fourth Touch
Your fourth touch is going to be the small sale that will help to engage your audience. Ideally, this will be something that will offer a similar service/value to the main product that you’re trying to shift and that way it should be able to demonstrate that the thing you are in fact selling for more is going to be worth more money.
Super Cheap Items
Or, if your only interest is getting people to buy from you and demonstrating your trustworthiness, then you can always just sell something incredibly cheaply. This might mean something as simple as selling a phone case or a t-shirt – perhaps just for a couple of dollars.
Selling Lots of Items of Increasing Value
Many a sales funnel will be built around just sales. The sales funnel we’ve described so far is one with a low ‘free line’ (this is discussed in more detail in a subsequent chapter). The more you give away for free, the better.
But it’s also possible to put multiple purchases below the free line. Rather than selling one item, then your big ticket item, you can instead go through gradually more expensive products and build this up to the point where your customer eventually pays for something very expensive.
This is the best way to get people to buy the very highest ticket items. This way, they will be making multiple purchases that increase in value and thereby each step will seem slightly smaller. This way, it won’t seem like such a big deal to eventually spend that much money. The steps are incremental and thus they seem smaller and more palatable.
If you are selling SAS (Software As a Service) or similar, then another good option is to offer a free trial of whatever it is that you’re going to sell. A free trial is much easier to convince someone to try than actually selling to them but if you handle this correctly, they’ll still be handing over their details and they might even input their card details so that you can charge them should they fail to cancel their membership after the first month.
T-shirt’s and Gifts
Another alternative to actually selling, is to give something away for free. One of the best examples of doing this is to give away a free ‘promotional gift’. These are things that have your branding on them and might include the likes of t shirts or mugs.
These are very cheap to produce, which makes them ideal as ‘loss leaders’. What’s more though, is that you can include your branding and that way get free marketing and exposure every time your fans use those items. At the same time, by wearing a t-shirt with your brand on it, your visitors will feel much more engaged and committed to your brand, to the point where they might want to demonstrate their allegiance in other ways!
The Final Touch
It should go without saying that your final touch is going to be your actual sale. This is what everything up to this point has been leading up to and when your visitors arrive on your site, they should hopefully be engaged, committed and ready to buy from you. All that remains is for you to make that final push to convert them into a customer – and you might do that with a series of emails, or you might do it with an effective ‘sales page’.
Targeting Your Audience and Finding Leads
One of the most important considerations when building a sales funnel, is how you’re going to get people to the start of that funnel in the first place. What’s more, is asking how you’re going to get the right people to the start of that funnel. This is where something called ‘targeting’ comes in.
Going back to our example of the shady watch salesman, one of the biggest problems he had (other than the trust issue), was that he doesn’t know who we are. We have shown no interest in watches and for all he knows, we might hate wearing things on our wrist. Or perhaps we’ve just been given a beautiful new watch and only feel the need for one. For this reason alone, our watch guy is not likely to have much luck.
But now imagine that he is using targeting to sell only to people with a high chance of being interested. One way he could do this is to stand outside the ‘Watch Lovers’ Convention’. Another option would be to visit people’s homes who have answered a survey saying they’re in the market for a watch.
Shady watch guy is still doing a lot of stuff wrong but simply by approaching that right audience, he’s going to see a BIG improvement in his conversion rates.
And that’s what we need to do too – bring the right people to our site to begin with. And to do that, we need to first identify who our buyer is. This means working out who our ‘buyer persona’ is.
A buyer persona is a fictional biography of the ‘ideal customer’ for your product. This means that they’re the exact sort of person liable to want to buy from you.
In profiling this person though, you’re not just going to be looking at the demographics. Demographics means things like the buyers age, sex, location and marital status. This is important but you want to go deeper by thinking about their philosophies, their politics, their other interests and more. Once you’ve created your imaginary biography, this will then allow you to market your product in the very places where this person is most likely to be. That might mean finding forums that discuss the other subjects they’re interested in, or it might mean finding blogs with a similar central concept to write guest posts for.
This will essentially allow you to find a good ‘route to market’, which is anywhere that your ideal buyer persona is likely to spend time as a captive audience member. A brilliant example might be a magazine on a particular subject.
If you can find your route to market and you can match that market with the right product and sales funnel, then you will be almost guaranteed to see success for your products.
Learn how to use persuasive sales copy to convince people to buy anything. You can use these techniques to convert those fans into paying customers but also to help with every other stage of your funnel!