4 Sales Funnel Stages All Profitable Companies Have In Common

4 Sales Funnel Stages All Profitable Companies Have In Common

This short story is written from a guy’s perspective..

Imagine you are on the train, on your way to work. You spot a nice girl, you sit next to her and start talking..

The conversation goes well and you connect with her on Facebook and Whatsapp.

You continue messaging each other for a while and start to bond.

You check out her Instagram and Facebook pages and learn more about her friends, hobbies and work.

A couple of days later, you chat with her again on Whatsapp. You feel like you know her a little better now and ask her on a quick drink after work.

The first date feels a little awkward, but because you already chatted online, it didn’t go too badly. You don’t kiss on the first date, but just have nice conversations to get to know each other.

Because you had a natural first encounter, interacted on social media and went out on a date, you are no longer strangers.

You invite her out again and the relationship progresses. This time, it’s more romantic.

You kiss, things get hotter..

..and you can imagine the rest.

Successful businesses build relationships in a similar way. Your potential customer needs to go on a well-crafted journey where they can transition from being complete strangers to feeling like they know you before they purchase your products or services.

And every sales funnel has 4 key stages.

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But before I walk you through the stages of a sales funnel, let me set the stage real quick..

Audience Temperature:

Before creating a sales funnel, you need to understand the concept of audience temperature.

The goal of your sales funnel is to turn cold prospects into hot prospects which are ready and eager to buy from you.

Cold

A cold audience is a group of people who haven’t heard of you or had any interaction with you. These prospects are unlikely to buy from you right away because they don’t know, like or trust you yet.

A cold prospect might come across you for the first time through a Facebook or Instagram ad. Or they might have found you through a guest post you wrote on another blog.

Once cold prospects find you, you want to start warming them up. For example, you can convince them to sign up for your email list by offering them valuable content in return.

Warm

A warm audience is a group of people who have had some interaction with you and your content. They already know who you are and you know that they have some interest in your products because of these interactions.

A warm prospect may have taken actions like opting into your email list, following you on social media or listening to your podcast.

There are different degrees of warmth. Some prospects who haven’t been in your funnel as long might not be ready to buy from you and may need more nurturing.

Other prospects who have seen more of your content may be warmer and ready to buy.

A warmer prospect might jump onto one of your webinars, get on a call with you or participate in a free trial for your product.  

Hot

A hot audience is a group of people that has already purchased a product from you.

They are eager and ready to solve their problem and are the best prospects for your next product. They already know you and are convinced that you have the solution to their problem.

A hot audience is hungry for your solution and ready to buy. They’ve already tried one of your products, so they know you deliver quality.

Hot prospects are ready to buy, so you can send them into the Sales Stage of your funnel. Some educational content helps, but they don’t need as much nurturing because they already know you.

Sales Funnel Stages

Sales funnels consist of 4 stages:

  • Awareness Stage  
  • Relationship Stage    
  • Sales Stage
  • Upsell Stage

Sending your audience through these stages converts cold prospects into paying customers of your products or services. They are also designed to maximize profits from each prospect.

Let’s take a closer look at each sales funnel stage..

Awareness Stage

In the Awareness Stage, your goal is to make people aware that you exist and convince them to join your email list. Ask yourself these two questions:

1. What’s the temperature of my audience?

Audience temperature will affect how you market to your audience.

For cold audiences, you can offer a PDF download that addresses their pain point or gets them curious about your content.

The goal: To get people to join your email list so that you can keep communicating with them.

For warm or hot audiences, you can use tactics like retargeting to get people to sign up for a longer webinar.

Warm audiences already know you and have consumed your content. They are more likely to participate in a longer webinar that dives deeper into the solution for their problem.

2. What lead magnet should I create to get people to join my email list?

A good lead magnet will attract the right prospects. Getting them to join your email list will allow you to begin building a relationship with them.

Think about what problem your audience wants to solve. Then create a lead magnet that helps them get closer to the solution.

The Awareness Stage takes place at the top of the funnel (TOFU). The goal of this stage is to attract a relevant audience.

During this stage, focus on lead generation.

You want to let people know that you exist and that you can create value for them. Create value for them by giving away educational content for free with a strong lead magnet.

A good lead magnet should attract the right prospect, but it should also filter out the wrong people.

Your goal is not necessarily to get the most leads, but instead to attract high quality leads. You want leads that will genuinely be interested in what you are selling.

Lead magnets are usually PDF downloads or a content upgrade on a blog post. A blog post with content upgrade works well when targeting organic traffic. A landing page with a PDF download can work well with PPC traffic.

People can download your lead magnet for free when they give you their email address.

Here’s an example of a Wild Audience content upgrade page:

5 Stages of Awareness

When deciding on a lead magnet, there are 5 levels of awareness you need to keep in mind.

1. Unaware – The person does not know that they have a problem.

2. Problem Aware – The person knows they have a problem, but doesn’t know there are solutions to the problem.

3. Solution Aware – A person knows there are solutions, but hasn’t chosen one and doesn’t know about your product.

4. Product Aware – A person knows about your product, but isn’t sure that it totally solves their problem.

5. Most Aware – A person knows a lot about your product. They are ready to buy, but need more details and specifics.

Usually, you want to target cold audiences that are either product aware or solution aware. You can target audiences that are unaware, but doing so requires more content (to educate them and make them aware that they have a problem) before you can sell to them.

Since you are approaching a cold audience, don’t try to pitch or sell your product right away. Instead, start by talking about their problem.

At Wild Audience, we use bucketing and segmentation techniques during this stage. We ask questions to learn about their interests, goals, problems, budget, etc.

Using the data we gather, we can personalize the experience in the Relationship Stage.

So what channels can you use to generate leads?

Here are a few examples:

1. Run PPC video ads on Facebook or Instagram – Video is a great way to engage new prospects and show them who you are.

2. Podcasting – Consider starting your own podcast or getting interviewed on other people’s podcasts.

3. Blogging – Write your own articles to attract organic traffic from the search engines and social media.

4. YouTube Channel – Creating video consistently can be a good way to connect with your target audience and tap into YouTube’s built in audience.

5. Facebook groups – Being active in Facebook groups and other communities where your target audience hangs out can be a good way to generate leads. As people become familiar with your name, they will become curious and visit your website.

Relationship Stage

Once you have generated some leads, they are ready to enter the Relationship Stage. In this stage, you will grow a relationship with your audience by sharing helpful content for free.

Would you like to see a visual representation of the Relationship Funnel stages? Click the image below to download my free Relationship Funnel graphic.

When designing the Relationship Stage, you should ask yourself a few questions:

1. What is the best way to communicate with my audience to build relationships and install buying beliefs?

Some options include emails, bots and ads. Most people will focus on email marketing, but other channels may also be worth exploring.

2. How can I introduce my unique mechanism?

Think about how, when and where you’ll introduce any unique or original ideas to your audience. Your unique mechanism separates you from other competitors.

Please note that your business’s product is not its unique mechanism. A unique mechanism is the unique way that your product or service delivers its benefit to your customers.

At Wild Audience, Relationship Funnels and Respect Based Marketing are two examples of unique mechanisms.

3. Think about what your customer avatar needs to believe before they will buy from you.

Define your belief system. A belief system is a set of beliefs that a person must have before they will buy.

There are usually 10-20 beliefs that you must install into your prospects before they will buy from you.

Once you’ve defined your belief system, do belief mapping. Map your beliefs into your funnel stages by asking yourself in which stages will you install which beliefs.

After your prospect joins your email list (which happens TOFU), they will enter the middle of the funnel (MOFU).

In this stage, you will focus on lead nurturing. The goal of this stage is to turn cold leads into a warm audience by building the relationship, gaining trust and establishing authority.

Continue to install all the necessary buying beliefs in your messaging. Your prospects should have all the right buying beliefs installed before your move them into the Sales Stage.

Research from Hubspot shows that “companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads and those leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured lead”.

Sometimes, this stage is viewed as the most complicated stage in the funnel because most businesses attract a broad diversity of leads that haven’t been fully qualified.

At Wild Audience, we excel at lead nurturing. Why?

Because we invented the Relationship Funnel where we combine human psychology with smart automation so that we can build relationships on autopilot.

Relationship Funnel (RF) makes this stage easier. We pre-qualify leads through our lead bucketing system.

Based on what answers they selected on our opt-in survey, we can send them through a more customized content path. We can personalize our content towards each bucket of people.

Relationship Funnel (RF) allows you to offer relevant and personalized information. It uses a Respect-Based Marketing approach to bond with your audience.

Using permission based marketing and delivering personalized content can boost engagement rates significantly. Here are some examples of results our customers received using RF:

– Matias went from having a 16% email open rate and 1.7% click rate to 84% open rate and 58% click rate

– Mubaid achieved a 90% email open rate and 80% click rate

Although you are focusing on educating your prospects during this stage, you should also be positioning your unique mechanism as the solution to your lead’s problems.

Become their trusted advisor by providing great content. But also install all the necessary buying beliefs so that they see your unique mechanism as the solution to their problem.

You need a marketing automation tool during to successfully implement this stage. Some tools include ConvertKit and InfusionSoft, but we at Wild Audience (along with 50,000 other businesses) use ActiveCampaign.

Combining relationship building with automation allows us to get higher ROI in the Sales Stage.

Sales Stage

Once you’ve built the relationship and installed buying beliefs, you are finally ready to sell. You’ve attracted and nurtured your leads, so you are now in the BOFU (bottom of the funnel) where you can make your sale.

Start off by deciding on a selling event. Ask yourself, what’s the best way to get your customer to buy?

Some commonly used selling events include:

  • Getting your prospect on a phone call  
  • Webinars
  • Sales pages  
  • VSLs

In this stage, your audience is already warm and ready for you to hear your offer. They believe that your unique mechanism is the solution to their problem.

In some cases, your lead may be so warm that they will even reach out to you and offer to give you money:

At this stage, your leads already know you and your solution. If you did a good job of installing buying beliefs, closing should be easier regardless of whether you use a VSL, sales page, webinar or other selling event.

Here are a few examples of how you can close prospects and get the sale:

1. Sales Page – A sales page can be a text-based sales page, VSL or a combination of both. A sales page is a great way to sell lower priced products.

Here’s an example of a text-based sales page.

2. Webinars – Another popular selling event is webinars. Webinars can be either live or evergreen.

Some advantages of webinars is that they allow you to demonstrate your products and form a deeper connection with people. You can also answer questions and address objections if you are doing a live webinar.

Here’s an example of one of my webinar sign up pages.

3. Call – Getting prospects on a live call is another way to close a sale. You can offer free strategy sessions, prequalify prospects or engage in a discovery session with your prospects.

This approach is best used for consulting and high ticket items because calls take up your valuable time.

Here’s an example of a page that I use to get consulting calls.

4. Trials – Free or inexpensive trials can be a good way to sell software products or memberships. This approach lets customers try out your product or service and if they like it, they will convert into regular customers.

Bonus Tip: At Wild Audience, we use lead scoring to measure the temperature of our audience members (based on their behaviour) so that we can present the right offer at the right time. This is called behavioural-based pitching.

Upsell Stage

Most businesses are happy when they get a paying customer, but don’t stop there!

To maximize profits from our funnel, we need to include upsells and cross-sells.

The question we need to ask ourselves during this stage is “what is the best way to upsell to our customers”?

Email sequences and ads are a couple of options.

If you’ve done a good job on the previous 3 stages and built a relationship with your customers, then the hard part of the upselling stage is already done.

Your goal in this stage is to increase the customer lifetime value (CLV) of your customers. As long as you continue to provide them value, they will purchase from you again.

So what’s the difference between cross-selling and upselling?

When you cross-sell, you offer your customer the next logical step. A cross-sell is usually a complementary product or service.

An upsell is often a more expensive premium service or package.

Think about cross-sell and upsell ideas that complement your current product. Upselling should be the next logical step if your customers want to scale their results.

A few practical examples..

1. Send them an email sequence – Now that they’ve bought from you, send them into a new email sequence. This sequence can provide new information, install new buying beliefs and offer a new product to take your customers to the next level.

2. Add them into an evergreen ad retargeting funnel – Previous customers are more likely to buy than cold prospects, so targeting customers with evergreen ads can be a good way to get them to check out other products you have.

Your customers already know you, so you don’t have to send them through a RBS. You can often send them directly to your sales page or webinar signup.

3. Call them – Getting a customer on a live call can be a good way to sell a more expensive package or consulting service. Another advantage of live calls is that you can also get feedback on your customer’s experiences with you and your products.

If you want to learn how to build a Relationship Funnel in 9 steps, download the PDF below.

To Sum It Up

There’s a natural way to build relationships with people online..

Would you ask someone to marry you after a first date?

Probably not.. because you haven’t built a relationship yet.

Unfortunately, most people approach selling by trying to get a big selling commitment without building a relationship first. They have a “sales-first” mentality, but that approach usually doesn’t work.

Building relationships in a natural way also works in business.

So here’s my call to action for you today.

Commit to treating your customers like your best first date. And the way to do that is with Respect-Based Marketing.

Your goal with Respect-Based Marketing should be to create a genuine relationship with people by showcasing your personality. Show them that you are focused on providing value first before trying to close a sale.

If you do that, then your long-term ROI, sales and conversions will be higher than you ever thought possible.

Hope you enjoyed this article and let me know what you think in the comments below.

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