This is a transcript from episode #55 of the OMGrowth podcast
I’m Lanie Lamarre and I’ve had a lot of semi-controversial to say in these last few episodes and why stop now? So today, I’m coming for sales funnels because… well, they’re wrong. They’re WRONG! Let’s talk about it.
The term “sales funnel” is used to describe the experience and journey you’re delivering to your clients. It is supposed to invoke the imagery that the sales process happens in – you guessed it – the shape of a “funnel”.
With the sales funnel metaphor, your people start at the top where they’re getting to know you. Then, those people will be pushed down towards being able to trust and engage with you and your content, until they’re finally squeezed into being ready to invest in you and therefore reaching the bottom of your funnel where we can presume the journey ends.
The idea is that by segmenting the part of your audience who is engaging with you in a specific way, you’re then able to lead or guide them towards giving you money; they’ve been “funneled” to the point where you’ve made the sale.
WHY THE SALES FUNNEL IS WRONG
I categorize this concept alongside Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy; they’re all cute concepts we have all agreed to buy into, but none of it works the way the way it’s packaged, amirite?
We may have been taught to see and visualize the phases of the client journey to look like a funnel, but the reality is that your sales process looks more like a bubble, where there’s a lot of oscillating and flow with how you’re interacting with people.
Your client journey is nowhere near as smooth and linear as the sales funnel fallacy would have you believe. Think about it: if you’ve ever happily bought something from someone, did you immediately start unsubscribing from their emails and their podcasts and unfollow their social media because you bought from them and now that relationship is over? Probably not. There is no clear-cut “end” to the relationships you’re building with your audience.
There are also the people that follow you with fierce loyalty and never actually buy anything from you. Does this mean they aren’t part of your sales cycle? I don’t believe so. I know I’ve recommended people and offers who I’ve followed forever but haven’t necessarily bought from. Sometimes there are products that I know aren’t a good fit for me but could work for someone else, and I know I’ve made many recommendations that have resulted in sales for others. I’m definitely a part of those sales cycles, even though the traditional sales funnel concept would suggest there’s no place for me or at best, that I’m somewhere in the middle, clogging things up.
The biggest problem I have with the sales funnel metaphor. though, is the belief that there’s somehow a “beginning” and “end” to the engagement and connection that you’re building with your audience; the reality is that your sales process and your client journey is a more circular experience than it is triangular.
As such, I reject the funnel and instead, I embrace what I call the ABCs of digital marketing.
The ABCs of Digital Marketing
The ABCs of digital marketing uphold the concept that there are 3 potential focal points from which you are marketing your online business.
A is for ATTRACTING and AWARENESS
These are the marketing strategies you’re using to get visible, gain exposure and build your brand’s reach. You’re not necessarily getting engagement in this area, but you are making new people aware of who you are, what you do and what you have to offer.
When it comes to attracting new audiences and increasing awareness of your brand, the goal is to support your pillar content and get it in front of new people who would benefit from and/or be open to what you have to say.
B is for BUILDING
In this space, you may be building relationships, building rapport or better yet, building your email list. This is where you will typically have the most impact – it’s where “your people” are picking up what you’re throwing down – and hopefully, they’re also sharing what they’re enjoying about you with others.
When it comes to building relationships and rapport, the goal is to continue giving people a reason to stay interested, engaged and in touch with you. Whether that’s getting them to sign up to your email list or to subscribe to your podcast or to love on you so hard that they share your awesome sauce content with their own friends and fans on your behalf, you are beyond the “introduction” of this relationship and you’re now BUILDING.
You will remember that we aren’t embracing the funnel metaphor anymore when it comes to your sales journey; the relationships we’re building are far more circular and fluid than that. This means that there are people who you’ve already converted to a sale – and maybe multiple sales, or we could also be talking about people who are referring sales to you – and it’s important to remember and value that they continue to live in this BUILDING phase after the transaction takes place, too.
You’re never “done” dating your significant other and you’re never “done” brushing your teeth, right?
Likewise, you’re also never “done” nurturing the relationships you’re BUILDING with your fans and followers, either. These circular, continuous, ongoing interactions we’re having is the reason why we can reject the notion of “funneling” people through a sales process. People who buy from you are not suddenly excluded from your client journey but rather, they’re someone with whom you have the opportunity to deepen that relationship with.
C is for CONVERTING
The specific conversion we’re talking about here is converting to sales. This is where people have – or, if you’re running a membership or working on a retainer, they continue to – invest in you and your offers. Again, this phase isn’t the “bottom” or the “end” of your relationship because in our circular sales model, we’re seeing this as an opportunity to continue carrying forward with the connection and trust we’ve been building.
The ABCs of digital marketing are not mutually exclusive. You may find yourself in more than one phase at once. For instance, if you’re running Facebook ads to a webinar you’re hosting, you’re ATTRACTING new audiences to your event while also BUILDING your email list. Meanwhile, you’ll send an invite to this same webinar to your email list as a means of BUILDING your relationship and potentially CONVERTING to sales during the webinar itself.
A sustainable marketing strategy isn’t a one-and-done funnel but rather, it’s a much more fluid, intersecting eco-system that represents an on-going conversation between you and the people you’re showing up to serve.
Every time you promote something – whether that is a free offer or a paid offer – or any time you hit the “publish” button on a post, you’re engaging in that conversation.
And listen, I’ve hit publish on something special that I’m hoping you’ll engage with: it’s a book called Results On Repeat and if you’re picking up what I’m throwing down here, you want to click the link in the shownotes and fire up your Kindle because it’s fresh for you to download.
Did I mention the title? It’s called RESULTS ON REPEAT FOR ONLINE BUSINESS OWNERS: PUBLISH, TRACK AND IMPROVE YOUR DIGITAL MARKETING CAMPAIGNS.
If you don’t have a Kindle to read it on, you can download the app on your phone or tablet for free – but it’s a total steal because we talk about publishing your content and offers, tracking them like they owe you money (because you know they do!), we look at the anatomy of your marketing campaigns with workflows and process maps because you know your girl over here LOVES a good workflow and process map, and we talk about what on earth are you supposed to do when your marketing isn’t working – how do you figure out what’s broken and how do you fix it – and that’s all in Results On Repeat. Did you catch that?
I’m hoping to be an Amazon best-seller with this so I want to make sure you caught that title – Results On Repeat – tell your mother, tell your gardener, gift it to your biz bestie – who doesn’t want the gift of Results On Repeat! – and I would be ALL the appreciation to you.
I’m so proud of this and hey! in case you haven’t heard it lately, I’m proud of you, too, because we’re all fed all these goofy concepts like “sales funnels” to buy into and if you’re still listening, it’s because something resonated with you about having ongoing relationships with your clients and being invested in that flow and engagement and interaction, and I love seeing more of that so, yeah, I’m proud of you and we’ll talk soon! baiiieeeee