One of the biggest mistakes I see young or inexperienced entrepreneurs make is having no defined sales process. More specifically, there’s no funnel in place for walking people from awareness to purchase. This is highly problematic and typically holds a business back from achieving any level of noteworthy success.
In this article, I want to show you some of the art and science behind how you can architect a sales funnel and, ultimately, fill it with more leads who become qualified prospects and, eventually, morph into customers. If that sounds good, keep reading.
A Breakdown of the Basic Sales Funnel
There are plenty of different creative acronyms and funnel illustrations out there, but it’s easiest to think about your funnel in three main stages:
- Leads (Top of the Funnel)
- Prospects (Middle of the Funnel)
- Customers (Bottom of the Funnel)
The goal, obviously, is to turn leads into prospects and prospects into customers. But in order to do that, you have to understand the emotional state of each prospect in each stage.
When a lead is in the top of the funnel, the goal is to move them from awareness to interest. That’s it. You’re not trying to make a sale.
Once a lead becomes interested, they become a prospect. At this point, they slide into the middle of the funnel where they actively evaluate options. Your objective is to engage them and show them why your solutions are a good fit for their problem, pain, or desire.
Finally, when a prospect is engaged enough, they become a customer. This is the bottom of the funnel. The objective is to nurture, satisfy, and cultivate loyalty.
Entire courses have been developed about architecting sales funnels, but that’s not the goal of this article. The purpose of this article is to show you how to fill your funnel with more leads. In other words, how do you fill the top of the funnel and make people aware of your business and products? (Because if you can do that, you have a good chance of eventually turning a percentage of these leads into prospects who become paying customers.)
Powerful Ways to Fill Your Funnel With Leads
When it comes to filling your funnel with leads, there are thousands of different tactics you can use. I want to discuss what I believe are some of the easiest and most effective in 2022 and beyond. Let’s take a look:
Write Guest Blog Content
Depending on how you approach this first strategy, it can take some time. However, it’s almost always worth it.
The idea behind guest blogging is simple: Write content for someone else’s blog and get exposure with their audience. (As an added bonus, you also pick up some SEO “juice” in the form of backlinks to your own domain.)
In order to be successful with guest blogging, you have to do your research and be persistent. For starters, look for blogs that have a high domain authority and possess a site readership/audience that overlaps with your own audience. In other words, if you’re selling fitness coaching services, you want blogs that are focused on healthy eating, natural medicine, weight loss, and positive self-image. However, you probably don’t want to guest blog on someone else’s fitness coaching blog. (Or, rather, they won’t let you.) There should be some overlap, but it should not be a direct competitor.
When writing guest blog content, it’s important to have bylines and/or include links back to your website. This helps you gain maximum exposure.
Does guest blogging seem too time-consuming? Thankfully, you don’t have to do guest blogging and link building on your own.
There are content writing services that will do all of this on your behalf.
Develop Sticky Lead Magnets
Generally speaking, the easiest way to add a lead into your funnel is to gather their contact information. This typically means their name and email address. But here’s the deal: People don’t just hand this information out for free. They expect something in return. And this is where lead magnets come into play.
A lead magnet is a free piece of content that you give away in exchange for a lead’s email address. It’s typically something like a PDF, report, eBook, checklist, video, or demo. When creating lead magnets, you want them to be sticky. In other words, you want your ideal customer to feel like they can’t say no.
Lead magnets are usually delivered as part of a simple opt-in process. You drive traffic from a source to a landing page. On this landing page, the lead is shown a simple one-or-two-field opt-in. They input their information and automatically receive the resource. On the back end, you send them an automated drip email sequence that sells them on your products and services.
One of the most popular lead generation methods involves the use of quizzes. However, most marketers are missing out on this option because they incorrectly think it’s too complex. (Hint: It’s not.)
As ConvertFlow.com explains, “The right quiz can grab someone’s attention and keep them highly engaged. Not only that, but it gives marketers a chance to listen to people’s problems and prescribe a particular product or piece of content as a solution—all on autopilot.”
When we use the term “quizzes,” we’re not talking about a test you took in high school. We’re talking about Buzzfeed-style quizzes that are fun and engaging. Popular ones include:
- Which character/person are you?
- What’s your personality?
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- How proficient are you?
- Which solution is right for you?
Obviously, the precise quiz name and question types are highly dependent on your brand, audience, and conversion goals. However, this gives you an idea of which approaches work.
Be a Guest on Podcasts
Podcast hosts are always looking for good guests. Yet most business owners aren’t willing to go through the effort of reaching out and looking for opportunities. That makes this a sneaky powerful way to generate hungry leads.
Guest podcasting is a lot like guest blogging. The same audience rules apply. The key here is to negotiate with the podcast host on the front end to make sure you’re able to include a call-to-action during your interview.
The best way to do this is by sending listeners to a targeted landing page and giving them a free resource that was discussed on the podcast in exchange for their email address. The great thing about this is that you can create custom tracking codes for each podcast you’re on. This will show you how many leads come from each podcast (so that you know which ones to return to in the future).
Form Joint Ventures
Perhaps you’re seeing somewhat of a theme here. One of the best ways to fill your own funnel is by tapping into someone else’s funnel in a completely ethical way by adding value to their audience. Joint ventures are another way to do this.
With joint ventures, you find other entrepreneurs and business owners and partner with them to create a joint product, project, or partnership where you both bring valuable resources to the table. In this case, they might bring the leads and you might bring the content or value.
Online events are a great example of this. You can host a free masterclass, live webinar, or virtual summit. Your joint venture partner (or partners) brings the registrations, while you create the actual teaching and set up the back end. Online courses are another example.
Give Your Sales Funnel a Boost
If you want to elevate your sales funnel, increase sales, and build a self-sustaining business that continues to grow over time, you need to fill your funnel with more leads – and more qualified leads at that! Hopefully, this article has inspired you with a few ideas. You don’t need to use them all, however. I’d recommend picking one and implementing it this week. Then, once you feel like you’ve mastered that strategy, choose another (and so on). When combined together, these techniques can have a compounding result at the top of your funnel, which results in exponential increases in revenue at the bottom of the funnel.