I was racking my brain trying to figure this online business thing out when I finally had my ah ha moment. I had spent thousands of hours and dollars learning all of the strategies, tips, tricks and tactics of so many online marketers, gurus and experts yet I was confused, frustrated and damn near ready to call it quits.
What the heck was I missing?
I wasn’t stupid so that couldn’t be it, but something wasn’t working. While implementing some of the tactics I had learned and yet I wasn’t seeing the results.
I found myself with an entire folder of video and audio courses, notebooks filled with my jottings from webinars, screen shots of landing pages and opt in forms that I liked and wanted to replicate and another book filled with a million and one business and product ideas that I wanted to execute on.
Unfortunately, they were all floating pieces that didn’t work together. I remember taking out a white board and literally writing out the steps of how some of my favorite marketers were able to get me to buy from them. I started to notice a pattern and the more I dove into it, I realized that they all had a similar system in place.
Ahh yes…ofcourse! I recognized what this system was and in that moment I did feel a little stupid, because I should have known. It was a sales funnel.
You see I had been a marketing executive for over 10 years, and I implemented strategies to support the sales efforts of the companies I had worked for. I also had my own consultancy where I implemented strategies for my clients, yet when it came to my own online business, I somehow thought it was different.
Well not somehow, I know why… I was sold the fantasy of online businesses being a magic easy button and got trapped in the confusion of trying to find that damn button.
It was then that I decided that I wanted to help other struggling entrepreneurs to figure it out before they got to the point of no return, i.e heading back to the 9-5 life and giving up on their dreams.
My big mission to pull together 30 of the most brilliant minds in online business and funnel creation, on one platform, came to fruition with The Sales Funnel Summit.
Here are 4 surprising lessons I learned while interviewing them all:
Lesson 1 – There IS a formula to growing a successful online business
Some think it’s luck or talent but if you get this formula right, you’re good. Some of the most successful online entrepreneurs openly admit that they aren’t the best at what they do, but they have a proven system in place to help them.
The formula is having a sales funnel. If you get the pieces of the sales funnel correct, you will be successful. The sales funnel is really a system that works for you to succeed.
The real problem that struggling entrepreneurs face is confusion and not knowing what their next steps are. With a sales funnel, you should be able to identify where the weaknesses are in your business, which then allows you to focus on what’s important and thus being more productive.
Not having a plan and systems in place leads to confusion and frustration leaving you wasting time and money working on things that don’t matter or are irrelevant to the big picture of the business.
A sales funnel leads to success because you:
1. have a clear understanding of who your audience is, what they want, & need.
2. know where to find them.
3. know how best to communicate and nurture a lifelong relationship with them.
4. have tested your ideas and know which products to create.
5. have your business automated so that you are capturing and converting leads,as well as selling all on autopilot.
6. are constantly testing to optimize conversion which is the only way to scale up a business.
Lesson 2 – Traffic is not your problem, conversion is
There are tons of traffic and potential clients out there on various channels. There has never been a better time than now, to get laser targeted with the placement of your message thanks to Facebook advertising, Google and Bing Adwords, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube…the list goes on. There are thousands of possibilities to get in front of your target audience so that’s not really a major challenge.
The real problem is not knowing how to get their attention so that they convert into leads. The issue of conversion continues throughout your funnel if you don’t have the correct mechanisms and strategies in place.
There are many different levels of conversion in a business and you must know how to move someone along in the appropriate way. For example:
Level 1 – Convert cold traffic into a lead
For example, advertise and get someone to give you an email address in exchange for something of value to them.
At this level you have a lot of work to do because you are a complete stranger. You need to introduce yourself, show them that you understand their problem and have a solution to fix it.
Level 2 – Get that lead to purchase from you for the first time.
Ok, you got their attention and now what? More proving. You have to build the know, like and trust relationship and further “convince” them that you and your product / service are right for them.
Level 3 – After that person has bought once, get them to buy again
The relationship is no longer new and they know what you and your product/service are about. If you delivered value on that first product and they like you, you have a better chance at selling to them again.
Level 4 – Turn that person into a lifelong customer who constantly purchases from you
At this level, you no longer need to “convince” them of anything. You have proven your worth and they trust you, so selling your latest offer gets easier and easier.
So the point here is that if you understand what strategies need to be in place to take the relationship to the trust level, then you will see better conversion along the way. Sending traffic to a funnel that isn’t optimized for conversion will have you searching for more and more traffic with little to no results.
Lesson 3 – The real difference between a successful entrepreneur and a failing entrepreneur
One of my favorite interviews was with Todd Brown who highlighted why some newbie online business entrepreneurs feel frustrated with their poor results and why others do so well.
The real difference between the successful and failing entrepreneur is that one implements strategies and the other implements tactics. Yes, tactics are a huge part of the business but the key to being successful is to allow the strategy to guide which tactics are used.
Building a foundation by creating a strategy and then looking for the most relevant and up-to-date tactics to support said strategy, can mean the difference between a 6-figure business and a 0-figure one.
For example, the successful entrepreneur uses social media comments below their sales page and is getting hundreds of persons commenting and engaging. This entrepreneur is happy.
The failing entrepreneur sees the successful entrepreneur use social media comments and follows suit but gets only a few people engaged and feels bad about themselves because they think people don’t like them or their product.
What went wrong?
The successful entrepreneur used a tactic that was appropriate for his business and community, to execute on the strategy of social proof. While the other guy didn’t realize that he was implementing the wrong tactic and it actually worked against him. This failing entrepreneur could have accomplished social proof by using another tactic such as a few testimonials.
The lesson here is that the second entrepreneur was simply looking to replicate tactics instead of being clear about his strategy and then implementing something more appropriate to his situation.
Lesson 4 – Never ever create products before you sell them
A big lesson here that can save you tons of time and money is to never just create a product because you think there is a need for it. Many entrepreneurs, especially those in the information product niche, think that they need to have a product ready and waiting to sell to their audience, when that is quite the opposite.
After interviewing Kat Loterzo, an online business coach who is making 6 figures in her business and has created over 80 products, insists that entrepreneurs sell their products before creating them.
If you approach your community and ask something simple like “Hey everyone, I’m thinking of putting together a course about XY&Z, would that be something that interests you?”, you accomplish a few things:
1. You can pre-sell and give yourself that extra kick in the butt to get the course created because you already know people have bought and more want to buy.
2. If the response is not favorable, you can go back and ask what they would like. So, you can tailor the course to the actual needs and wants of your community, thereby guaranteeing yourself some sales.
3. You don’t waste money and time creating what they don’t want. Your time is precious, so use it wisely on the things that will get you results.
So in the end a well thought out and automated sales funnel is critical for a business to succeed. Sure businesses have been successful without one but why do things the hard way? If you don’t believe me, then perhaps you’ll believe 30 other persons who have been there, done that, are making their mark on the world and getting paid handsomely for it, thanks to having a sales funnel in place.
There are many more lessons to be learned but if you take away one thing from me today, I hope it’s that you will dedicate the time to learn how to implement an effective sales funnel and follow through with it.
Nothing beats a try but a failure right?