improve sales

If you’re selling tools or expertise, you’ll need to understand where your prospects are in their relation to time, interest, and expertise. Find out how my guest addresses these issues for his prospects.

I consider myself a software guy.

Bachelors of Science in Computer Science.

I wrote my own analytics package in 2003, which was thankfully replaced by Google Analytics in 2005.

I still write scripts for my data analysis.

In the tech world, we distinguish the software guys and gals from the hardware guys and gals. Mark Zuckerberg is a software guy. Apple’s Steve Wozniak is a hardware guy. Yes, I know Steve has written a lot of code in his day, but he’s undoubtedly a hardware guy.

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When there’s something that needs to be done around the house — or to my car — my first thought is, “I’m a software guy. THIS is a hardware problem.”

My father, on the other hand, is clearly a hardware guy. Handy. Fixes things. Builds things.

So, when it came time to change the kitchen faucet in my house, I called Dad. Because, as a software guy, I would just start trying things to understand the obstacles. This can be an expensive approach for a hardware problem.

Hang in there. There’s a point to this.

So I called Dad and he came over. He told me what I should do to change the faucet, but I pretty much already knew all of that. However, Dad handed me a tool that I could never have imagined existed. It’s called a Basin Wrench, and it made all the difference.

There is no way, squeezed under that sink, that I ever would have gotten the old encrusted bolts off of the old faucet without the Basin Wrench. The YouTube videos I watched didn’t mention it. Imagine a raptor claw attached to the end of a long rod with a handle at the bottom.

Example of a basin wrench

Basin Wrench. Courtesy Wikipedia

I had to Google “faucet tool” to even find out what it was called.

I’m certain that I would have given up without it.

The moral of the story? Tools+Experience.

Now, I get pitched marketing tools all the time. Popup tools, data tools, visualization tools, email tools, analysis tools… you name it. How can I know which tools are the indispensable basin wrenches in all of this?

That is the question I had in mind when I invited Josh Thomas onto my podcast. Josh is with Outbound Engine. They sell the basin wrench of digital marketing for small businesses. They sell both the tools and done-for-you services to the kind of people who use basin wrenches daily.

Most of us see our products and services as basin wrenches. But only to those people who have a proverbial faucet to change.

So how does Outbound Engine convince hardware guys and gals to invest in a soft problem like digital marketing?

Budget and Culture

How you spend your money is also how you’re focused in terms of your time and where you want your team’s time to be spent.

High-quality content

Because we do see so many different iterations, we can see what engagement, what campaigns or content are driving engagements. We can make sure that we’re taking those lessons learned and incorporating them more and more over time. It gives us just more and more opportunities for us to learn and see what works best.

Prospecting Customers: Evaluating time, interest and expertise

Time. Expertise. Interest. I like this simple model.

These are the things that influence whether your customers will solve a problem themselves or buy a solution to fix it, a solution like yours.

Imagine mapping your opportunities onto a time/interest/expertise graph. Like this.

Triangle graph that shows time, interest, and expertise.

Rate your prospects on a scale from 1 to 5 for time, interest and expertise.

When time is tight (rated 1 or 2), prospects gravitate to those problems in which they have expertise, where they have confidence. Things are done the way they’ve always done them, and thus done quickly.

When time loosens, our prospects can gravitate to tasks that feed their interest or expertise. These are problems that need solving now that time is available.

Those with expertise but little interest are looking for tools to make things easier. The ROI is what they are looking for.

Triangle map graph showing high expertise and low time or interest.

May be looking for tools.

Those with interest and little expertise are looking for experts. They are looking for expertise and tools.

Triangle map graph showing high interest and low time or expertise.

May be looking for expertise and tools.

Someone with interest, expertise and time are likely to do it themselves, to solve the problem internally.

Triangle map graph showing lots of time, interest and expertise.

They are going to do it themselves.

Those with none of these probably don’t even know they have a problem. This is a tough sell.

Triangle map graph showing little time, interest or expertise.

They don’t even know they have a problem.

How do your clients map onto the TIE triangle? What are you doing to feed interest or expertise? To demonstrate ROI to experts and demonstrate competence to those who are interested? The two are quite different.

Now go science something.

Resources and links discussed:

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How Heatmaps Helped Increase Prospective Student Inquiries with Hotjar

Building a smooth customer journey is key to business and revenue growth. Here’s how to create a sales funnel that works in just 5 minutes.

You may not believe you already have one or more sales funnels in place, but all businesses do. Maybe it’s not working as expected. Or perhaps you would like to make it more effective. Follow these steps to create a sales funnel in 5 minutes that will have customers buying from you in no time at all.

What Is a Sales Funnel?

But first things first. Let’s quickly refresh the definition of a sales funnel.

A sales funnel is a hypothetical or ideal journey you would like a prospect to travel to become a lead or a customer. This is why sales or revenue funnels are also called “customer journeys” or “customer blueprints”.

They can be as simple as a one step Click to Call Google Ad, where the button is your opt-in point or as complex as need be. Especially for those businesses where lots of lead nurturing is needed for prospects to convert.

Call only ads are best used when there's a sense of urgency to the offer. Isn't this one of the shortest sales funnels ever?

Call only ads are best used when there’s a sense of urgency to the offer. Isn’t this one of the shortest sales funnels ever?

Keep in mind, while you are building your sales funnel, that the best functioning ones are those that reduce friction. That is, they do not add unnecessary barriers or hurdles to the sales process.

Ready, Set, Let’s See How to Create a Sales Funnel in 5 Minutes

One of the sales models that is most frequently used in customer blueprints and customer journey mapping is the AIDA model, which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Developed by E. St. Elmo Lewis in 1898, it maps how people make purchasing decisions. And, in spite of the technological developments, its importance and effectiveness has not diminished as humans have not changed their buying decision making process since then.

Whatever tactics you use to qualify leads and drive them closer to taking the desired action will change accordingly to where the lead is within the funnel: top (TOFU), middle (MOFU) or bottom (BOFU). It essential to understand how the funnel works from the moment you make the first contact (TOFU) with your ideal future customers to the moment where you convert those leads (BOFU). Keep in mind that each one of these components depends on the others.

Creating a sales funnel is as simple as defining the desired action and the target audience and then drawing the path between those two. And as complex as making it function successfully.

Here’s how to create a sales funnel (or improve the one you have) in 5 minutes.

AIDA model applied to customer journey mapping.

AIDA model applied to customer journey mapping.

To Create a Sales Funnel First you Need to Generate Awareness

Attracting attention or generating awareness works best when you know your target audience media habits. You’ll be more successful if you advertise your brand, your products and/or services where the majority of your prospects already are.

These prospects may be currently looking for what your product or service provides or they may not. Those potential leads that are intently searching for a service similar to yours will notice relevant messages much more than those that are not.

For example, if someone is ready to upgrade to a new car, they will feel as if there are more automobile ads than usual. It’s because they are more aware. Generating awareness for your brand might be easier in this case. Funny how the brain works.

On the other hand, you may generate awareness amongst prospects with related needs. They are not looking for what you sell exactly. For example, while browsing their Facebook feed or reading a blog post, a person looking for a higher paying job may stumble upon a college or university they didn’t previously know existed.

Once you know where to find the vast majority of your audience, you can decide on a way to generate awareness about your brand. Usually these tactics range from PPC campaigns, TV or radio ads, billboards, blog posts, trade show participation, referrals, direct mail, email campaigns, online search results, all the way to super outrageous publicity stunts. You get the idea. Don’t craft the copy or the creative yet.

Have you chosen a tactic to introduce your prospects to your brand? Great! You’ve got the first step of your sales funnel covered. (Don’t overthink it) Move on to the next step.

Guiding customers through the buying stages: how to create a sales funnel that works in 5 minutes.

Guiding customers through the buying stages: how to create a sales funnel that works in 5 minutes.

Second Step: The Interest Awakens

To create a solid sales funnel, you have to drive your prospects to click, call, download, sign-up, or visit you. And even though this happens at the last stage, you need to present the reasons why your are worthy of consideration in order to make it happen.

Do you have an eCommerce site and are offering free shipping? Is your SaaS fulfilling a productivity need that is important to your lead? Or do your cars flaunt the features your prospective buyers are searching for?

Related reading: 7 Conversion Copywriting Hacks You’ll Wish You Knew About Sooner

You need to know your customers and their behaviors, habits, and motivations to cut through the noise and to offer them something they recognize as useful or relevant.

This is the time to entice and convince them as to why they need your product or service.

Third Step: Pick Me! Pick Me! or the Sales Funnel Desire Stage

You presented your benefits properly and showed value to your prospect. Now it’s time to elicit desire. Congratulations! You are in the middle of the funnel (MOFU).

Keep an eye on your goal, your lead has to desire your product or service above any other.

Hence, you should keep educating and positioning your brand as the solution to their needs and problems. This is the stage where you shine a spotlight on those benefits. Testimonials, case studies, product comparisons, and customer reviews work well here.

This is also the stage where you match your product or service benefits to the prospect’s needs to clear up any barriers to the sale. This is a critical stage in which website traffic often fails to convert.

Do not miss out on these 20 Landing Page Best Practices to Kickstart Your Conversion Lift

Fourth Step: Ask for the Sale

It seems to go without saying that any good sales funnel ends with a purchase. The biggest mistake people make when using the AIDA model, though, is to assume the sale will happen organically once the other steps have fallen into place. It won’t. Unlike an actual funnel, what goes into a sales funnel doesn’t always reemerge at the end. And people tend to not take action unless they’re asked. So, pay attention to your calls to action – the worst mistake sales people make is not ask for the close.

What’s your call to action? How will you prompt them to fill out the form, complete their shopping cart purchase, have a one-on-one call or meeting or do whatever final action you want them to take to complete their customer journey?

Purple mattress on exit intent pop up offer (BOFU).

Purple mattress on exit intent pop up offer (BOFU).

Maybe you’ll offer them a free assessment, or a last minute discount if they complete the transaction right away. Take a minute to decide as the BOFU stage is the most crucial since it’s where you ask for the sale.

Ta Da! 5 minutes to build a sales funnel without writing a single line of copy — yet.

Would you rather have the conversion scientists identify your customer journeys to help you build your funnels? Then, check out our Conversion Rate Optimization Audit Services.

Sales Funnel Examples

Now that we’ve created our customer journey, let’s take a look at a couple of sales funnel examples for inspiration.

I think we covered one with the call only PPC ads example. Great for a local business like a personal injury attorney or a plumber, locksmith or any organization whose concern is to make the phone ring. Another requirement for successfully using this type of sales funnel is a sense of urgency to your product or service.

Purple mattress provides visitors with a humorously informational and convincing MOFU tactic on their landing pages with their zany videos backed by scientifically proven data. We may be a bit skewed as they also wear lab coats but go ahead, play the video and tell us what you think – unless you decide to buy a mattress first. ;)

A typical lead generation sales funnel example that remains mostly on the TOFU stage is to offer a Free Book, Research or White Paper to visitors – organic or paid. Take them to the next stages of the funnel by offering a one-time offer or a free consulting session. Keep qualifying the lead and close it with a call or an in person meeting.

Once you have a funnel ready an implemented you will want to test it, so we leave you with 9 Imaginative Approaches to AB Testing Landing Pages to get you started.