The Old Sales Funnel: “Tell Me What I Need and I Will Buy It From You”
First time I’ve heard a term “sales funnel” was back in my days when I got a job as a financial advisor for a major corporation.
After passing my “Series 7” exam and becoming a licensed broker for NYSE, I had to become intimately familiar with our corporate sales funnel for selling our main product, individualized financial plans. For those of us working in the front lines of this financial sales machine, a simplified version of our sales funnel looked something like this:
- Endlessly “cold call” outdated sales leads for hours at a time.
- Upon successful contact, invite a lead to visit the office for a “cup of coffee.”
- Then, there came a “sales pitch,” culminated with a sale of a firm’s “financial plan” as a form of initial engagement.
- If the lead liked the financial plan we put together, he or she would, often, decide to transfer a large bulk of his/her funds to be placed under our firm’s management.
- If the client was not willing to transfer his or her money to us, the sale was considered unsuccessful, but as a minimum, we got paid for a financial plan we put together.
Whether it was my work as a financial advisor or most of my other sales jobs, essentially, it all came down to this: you start with a sales pitch, you “close,” you charge a fee, and you hope that the client keeps buying more and more products from you:
Death of a “Sales Pitch”
With time, however, a very interesting trend began to occur: more and more consumers stopped caring about a “sales pitch.” They stopped answering telemarketing phone calls and stopped paying attention to TV ads.
Today, for the most part, if a consumer has a need for something, he/she can get it by searching the internet.
Need a traffic attorney in Chicago? How about a hundred of them? Just keep hitting the “Next” button of your search engine.
Need a wedding planner? Here is another hundred showing up right on the first few pages of Google.
Need a financial planner? Not a problem. Google will give you a long list you wouldn’t know what to do with.
Counting on the old sales funnel in order to survive, over time, became a loser’s game. Something had to be done.
The New Sales Funnel: “I Know What I Need, Use Your Blog to Tell Me Why I Should Choose You.“
Today, when it comes to sales, my approach is this: customers already have a pretty good general idea of what they are looking for, and it is now my job to showcase my product and build enough of a relationship with them to help them choose my product over my competition. And there is simply no better way to do it than using a blog as a part of your overall online strategy.
Today’s sales funnel looks much different from what it was years ago. Somehow, over time, that annoying outbound telemarketing phone call gradually transformed into something completely unexpected: a click (or a touch, if you are using your phone). And that cup of coffee when you get to learn about the company and start developing a relationship with your client turned into something even more unexpected: a website with a blog.
A Click (Formerly Known as a “Cold Lead”)
Today, it doesn’t matter where your click comes from. It can come from your online ad, your twitter account, or your Facebook page. What matters is your ability to get the click.
A Blog (Formerly Known as a “Free Cup Of Coffee”)
Unlike the “good old days” of selling, now you get to have an endless metaphorical cup of coffee with your potential audience in the form of a blog. Blog for a business is, first and foremost, a real-time relationship builder. Secondly, it is a showcase of your work. Thirdly, it is a lead generator.
Here I am talking about a blog that does not revolve around “Buy my product now!” message, but rather contains valuable information that allows you to build trust between you and your future customer. The goal of your blog is to not “pitch,” but rather let others know that you are an “ok” guy or a girl to work with. Your second goal is to give your visitors an opportunity to learn and interact with you in order to build even more trust.
Let’s look at it this way. Once your blog is established, the visitors of your blog will typically be divided into 3 categories:
1. The Non-Buyers :/ (typically around 90%) who will never buy anything from you no matter what you say or offer. Some of those visitors are still getting to know you, some are there by mistake, some don’t have the money and others are there for all the wrong reasons altogether.
2. Occasional Buyers 🙂 (or skeptics like myself) who enjoy reading and learning, but are willing to pay for a product as long as they see value in it. Those will be the majority of your buying visitors.
3. Fan-Buyers 🙂 🙂 who will buy anything you have for sale on your website, no matter what it is. They sign up for your seminars, buy your books and try your products.
While you will not be able to tell which one of the 3 categories a particular visitor of your website belongs to until they decide to spend money on your website, it is important to continue using your blog as a relationship builder with 100% of your visitors, buyers, fans and non-buyers alike.
Technology will change. Sales funnels will evolve. And yet your need to build a true human relationship in order to connect with others and grow your fan base will remain.
Max Azarov, Authentic Spin, Author
What Was Your Experience?
What was your experience of adding a blog feature to your business website? Did it help your customer interaction, or did it make it worse? Please feel free to comment below.