No matter what it is you’re trying to sell on the internet, a sales funnel is the best way to do it. This is the most systematic way to build trust, to build a relationship and to encourage people to want your brand before making a sale – and it is incredibly powerful when done well.

What is a Sales Funnel?

So what exactly is a sales funnel? What will you be using it for? How does it work? And how can you tap into its power for yourself?

In essence, a sales funnel can be imagined like a funnel for customers. You start out with a broad opening to capture as many leads as possible (opt-in) and then you gradually narrow those leads down to only the most engaged and interested customers so that you can sell to them. All the while, you’ll be building trust, building engagement and priming them to buy your product or service.

sales ladder hitvirtual.comYou can also think about this as a ladder, with each rung taking your customers closer to the top where you’ll eventually sell to them.

In practice, what this means is a series of different marketing strategies, each arranged in such a way as to build more and more targeted leads for your business. So you might start with a simple ad, or a blog post and then move on to an email list, then a ‘free report’, then a seminar, then a small product sale and then a big sale.

Each of these marketing stages is a rung on a ladder, it’s a little further down the funnel. And each time a customer clicks on the next link or follows you to the next step, they are becoming more and more likely to buy from you.

As mentioned, there’s a good chance you’ll have encountered different sales funnels in your travel around the web: and you may even have bought products from others through this method. You might have come across a blog and signed up to the mailing list for instance, and then been told to click on the link therein in order to see a free seminar. And then maybe the free seminar asked you to sign up for the next seminar which would cost a little money.

And you may have come across it on YouTube too. Let’s look at a fictional, somewhat inscrutable business man, (We will call him Sam), who is willing to use everything at his disposal to capture new leads and sales – even when that involves a bit of bare-face lying. But he still employs a sales funnel very well. Sam talks about his cars or his massive house and this makes you want to watch – even if only because it annoys you.

free button hitvirtual.comAt the end of the video, he offers to show you how to get his three most important tips for making money. And because it’s free, why wouldn’t you click it? Only at this point, you’re becoming more and more involved with his brand and more and more likely to become a paying customer. When you watch this ‘free’ video, which is on his site or channel, you’ll then be told you can get even more information by signing up for a free report. In fact, this report is key to understanding the video. If you do this, then Sam now has your details and the confirmation that you’re interested in what he has to sell!

You’ve gone from a ‘cold lead’ (someone on YouTube, targeted based on your video watching choices), to a ‘warm lead’ (someone who has demonstrated an interest) to eventually a ‘qualified lead’.

The way Sam does this is a little transparent and a little cynical – but it’s how many of the big names operate. And it’s exactly what you should be doing if you want to make sales. Note that this doesn’t mean you have to con people like Sam! Just that you need to think about your marketing strategy in steps and stages and understand the psychology in the way you’re dealing with people.

Many new entrepreneurs fail to learn this up front and struggle with filling their client list. Still, others find that they just don’t have the sales mindset. In both these situations, although you need to know a general concept, you can outsource most of the work. The professional(s) you choose will need to know precisely how to employ these kinds of techniques, how to execute your sales plan perfectly and how to write persuasive copy. With a well-oiled sales funnel that people simply can’t ignore, you will build a massive following so that you don’t just have visitors and fans – you have loyal customers!