Sales funnels are easy to understand but difficult to implement. This article should give you a general idea of what they are and how to make the best use of them.
Throughout the years, I have worked as an employee in a service-based business, as well as established a small service-based business myself. What I have come to understand is that, without proper sales funnels in place, it is challenging to have stable cash flow unless you have really good luck or the service you provide is unique within your area.
Otherwise, this is usually how it happens if your business has not had proper sales funnels:
- You put the words of the service you provide
- 30 prospects contact you
- Five decide to use your service
- You burst your neck to finish those gigs
- Why is it so quiet now? Where are all the people?”
Then, there you go, back to putting words out for prospects. The thing is the time it takes from putting words out to a prospect giving you a gig is usually time-consuming. Your business might suffer during that process due to a shortage of cash (i.e., bills to pay, debts to settle, etc).
How to build effective sales funnels for service business?
Different stages of sales funnels
Before aiming to run, let’s understand the basic of walking first, shall we? These groundworks might be boring for some people, but they are essential.
When I first started my small service-based business, it was because of such impatience that cost me several thousand dollars (Ouch, that’s the bang on the toe, pun intended). It might not seem much, but those dollars are a big deal if you are not a wealthy entrepreneur wannabe with bills to pay.
Phase 1 - Awareness
In this stage, you are marketing for your business. You are putting words out to tell the world that you exist and are providing a solution to your prospect.
In this phase, it is highly advisable to provide as much information on your service as possible and how they are unique. It will make your life so much easier later.
Phase 2 - Discovery
If you have not made the mistake of publishing a whole bible on your personal life in the previous phase, your prospects should be quite interested in you and the things you do now. They will try to contact and see if you are legit in what you say and do.
Phase 3 - Evaluation
In this stage, your prospects will be evaluating you with their standard and most likely against your competitors. Especially with clever prospects, they will search for many different service providers and compare various factors such as prices and skills and so on.
Phase 4 - Intent
During this phase, the prospect is pretty much ready to open up their wallets. Since everyone has their unique circumstances, they will make sure the terms and conditions are favorable, as well as ensuring that your service can deal with other miscellaneous concerns before finalizing the proposal with you.
Phase 5 - Purchase
Congratulation, the prospect has officially become your client. This is the best stage, especially for a newly established business, because money is flushing in and you can ask for referrals too.
Phase 6 - Loyalty
Unless the service you are providing is nothing but one-time-deal, your client will come back again if you have done an excellent job delivering it. Similar to a relationship between a man and a woman, your client most likely finds it hideous and annoying having to repeat all previous stages to find a trustworthy provider again.
Hence, they will stick with you for the next gig again and again. Even if your service is a one-time-deal, people with the same problem usually gravitate toward each other. That’s why your client might refer you to other prospects, and the phases repeat themselves.
Why is it important to understand these phases?
As you can see, there is no jumping from phase one to prospect becoming client. Unless you are unique, infamously talented and selling low while maintaining the same service quality as your competitors, I don’t see how you can skip all these phases and still prosper.
However, there is one more problem with this funnels, which is automation. If you have plenty of money to throw around, just hire experts, and they will build so many different devices to automatically market your business while you are sleeping. On the other hand, there are common folks like us with a limited budget and bills to pay, who have to work smarter, not “richer” to get around that.
Setting up an effective funnels system
With the wonder of technological trending today, there are so many affordable ways you can use to set up effective and continuous funnels.
A website for your business
Decades ago, having a website was something revolutionary and made you stand out. These days, not having one makes you a relic of the past.
Seriously no one has the time or the willingness to travel 100km to a place to look for information if they can simply flick the fingers around and get it. Despite that, simply having one will not make it work, there are some standards to consider:
- Homepage: I have seen so many websites so focused on getting intimacy with their prospects that they practically made a blog and done nothing much on their services. I clicked away and found other providers immediately. Remember how I mention about not having a bible about yourself? Yes, this is the reason why.
- Options: As a client myself, I also find it annoying when a website over-complicate their options available. Having so many options can be frightening, especially when you are not quite sure what it is you need or not.
- Services: Please refrain from telling the world how many Olympic medals you have achieved. You can mention a little bit here and there to impress your prospects, but don’t waste a whole page and 3000 words on it; because people click away after about 200 words or so if they do not find what they need.
- Homepage: Brief introduction on who you are, the group of people you can help and quick and convenient ways for your prospects to contact you.
- Options: Divide options or service packages into only several groups. Most of the time, this is for the prospect to have a general idea of what they get. Small terms and conditions can be altered at the negotiation stage.
- Services: Details on how you would carry out your service and help your prospect solve their current problems. It is also advisable to touch on why and how your solution is unique compared to most of your competitors.
During my time as an employee, there was a particular employer who was good at establishing a systematic and automated sales funnels.
It was almost at the point where prospects just kept on flushing in while gigs from existing clients are running. All that was required to maintain such a system was just some daily, simple, and most importantly, free-of-charge copy and paste tasks in the following:
This option might or might not be suitable depending on the sort of service you are providing. Though the employer I just mentioned above is in the immigration consultancy service. To tackle various issues with immigrants, not only visa application, he established a group for people to pose their concerns.
As previously mentioned, people with the same issue tend to gravitate toward each other, and the group grew larger over the year based on this principle. Subsequently, the free-of-charge face group became a marketing platform for the business. Prospects unknowingly market the service for the company without charging a single dime.
Another place where it can work similarly just like a Facebook group. There are a lot of websites with forums for people to ask questions specifically related to specific topics. This is where you can pose your marketing content and reply to people’s queries for a service you are providing.
You can also hop onto other Facebook groups that already have a certain amount of traffic and followers. Contact them about posing your marketing content there. The administrator might be kind enough to let you do so with only a few conditions, or even if they do ask for a fee, it is usually not as significant as the advertisement agency.
You would be amazed by how effective this strategy can be. Especially for prospects who are more prone to visual effects and disdain wordy content. However, you have to pay attention to certain things to make it effective.
- Interesting hook: the first and foremost strength of the webinar is sadly also its weakness, length. Even for people preferring visuals, they might get discouraged once they see a 45-minutes video. That is why the first few minutes are significant as the hook you place there has to be concise and engaging enough to keep the prospects stay watching.
- Email info to view webinar: Your webinar should be free, free of money, but not free to waste your efforts. Asking prospects to enter email information to view your content is not too much to ask. Even the email being registered is fake or just a clone email, it is fine. The reason is that it serves two purposes: insert this service provider information to the brain or a place to retrieve the info of the service provider later on.
- Closing of the webinar: the result of every webinar is for prospects to contact you about your business. Keep the closure simple, sincere, and a quick touch on how and why your prospects need to talk to you. Try not to push it too hard and make yourself look desperate.
- Strategize your email: After your webinar, usually, your prospects would either contact you, click away with or without watching the whole thing or try to contact you halfway through the webinar. Regardless of the case, you should think about what sort of email you would like an email sequence to be for each group of prospects.
This might seem trivial and a no-brainer sales funnels strategy. Surprisingly, a lot of people either ignore or forget about it. Remember that not all prospects are deep-pocketed and people with this sort of feature are usually very good at math. They will realize that little chunk of 10% discount change would amount to a huge sum of cash after enough referrals.
Nevertheless, review your price packages carefully before deciding on how much of an incentive you can afford. A recklessly determined incentive scheme might ruin your sales funnels in two ways:
- Unfair treatment if an incentive is not equally offered.
- Providing a service at a financial loss.
- Being taken advantage of by your prospects
The above methods have been used by numerous service businesses to build their sales funnels, but not all of them work for everyone. The reason is that everyone is different, such as different services, different targeted prospects, different process of building funnels, and so many more.
However, there is one thing in common between those who have succeeded, which is tenacity. They did not build a systematic and effective funnel right from day one. Growing your marketing platform takes time, patience, and on-going management.
Service businesses are as hard as any other types of businesses. Tenacity and a never-give-up attitude are, without a doubt, a must for every owner. The rest are some personal quality that I cannot share with you.
Though what I can tell you is that, these sales funnels work, either to just an extent or massively successful. You just have to stick to it and keep refining the little details and flaws you find along the way. Alrighty, thank you so much for reading, and I wish you service business folks good luck on your journey.