If you’ve never been employed in sales, then the concept of a sales funnel may be new to you.
The funnel is a construct that helps us understand how business relationships originate from a relatively broad category–people who have vaguely heard of you–and filter down into ever closer steps.
Here’s an example of how it might work:
- Theresa is a 24-year old woman received an engagement ring and eagerly begins planning her wedding. One of the first things she did was to update her status on Facebook from “In a relationship” to “Engaged.”
- 124 of her 1600+ friends like and comment her status update within the hours of her posting. Besides the well wishes and emoticons, there is also advice:
“Have you looked at halls yet? My cousin Nikki got married at Banquets of St. George and loved it. ~ Friend from high school
“”Might be a little early, but Party Masters is having a 60% blow-out sale this week on seasonal items. If you stock up now, you could save a lot. There were really cute snow themed centerpieces that would be cool for a winter wedding next year.” ~ Friend who just threw a shower for a mutual friend
“I was just looking at an album from a friend’s wedding. They used Bella Photography in Valpo. Check out the pics of the retro album. Totally reminded me of you guys.” Link to URL of picture cited attached within Facebook
- Odds are that soon savvy Facebook marketers will start showing up on Theresa’s news feed with sponsored ads and stories, trying to appeal to her. That’s a good strategy too, if you’ve got the budget, but being recommended by a friend or family member usually carries much more weight.
- Facebook page owners that were tagged in the comment stream have been given an implied invitation to enter the conversation, thus increasing the odds that this “suspected client” (not yet a prospect) might travel a bit further down the sales funnel with them…
- Jodi Bella of Bella Photography could “like” the comment and leave a personalized response, “Congratulations! We had such a great time photographing that wedding. If you like retro, you might enjoy an album I put together on Pinterest to get some ideas. We’d be thrilled to offer you an initial consult if you are looking for some photography options.”
- Theresa’s head is spinning. She has gotten a lot of advice, but she likes Jodi’s Pinterest board and decides to create one herself to put her ideas together in an online album. Theresa repins the pin of the retro bride and groom and her ideas start to take shape.
- Since Jodi & Bella Photography are now theoretically part of Theresa’s wedding plan, there is a space created where the relationship can be developed further.
Note: some companies sell online quite successfully. The majority of clients I work with do not sell online directly, but can still use their online marketing to develop business relationships that will be developed offline, i.e. in person.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to keep all your interactions on Facebook or Twitter or wherever else just because they originated there. Think about your own sales process and how you can provide the best value to the person you’re speaking with. Don’t be overly aggressive and try to convert to a sale too soon, but don’t ignore those invitations to be part of a relevant conversation either.
It’s more of an art than a science. More about that later…