Imagine if someone came up to you in the street and asked you if you’d like to buy a $5,000 watch.
99.9999% of the time, you would say no to that offer.
Why? Well, apart from the fact that you might not want a watch (you are a ‘cold lead' in that respect), there’s also the small issue of trust, recognition and authority.
You don’t know who this person is, you’ve been given no reason to trust them and probably won’t want to give them your money.
That’s why companies don’t do this. Instead, they give you flyers which you can choose to accept or throw away – but either way, they don’t cost you anything and you won’t feel like you’re being pressured into anything.
Other stores do something different: they give away 'freebies'. Walk past Starbucks and you’ll often find them giving away free samples of their new drinks and cakes for you to try. Again, you can easily walk away if you’re not interested and you won’t feel you’re being strong-armed. However, if you like the free sample, then you can come in and try whatever else they’re offering.
If you try and sell to people right away on your website though, then you’re the equivalent of someone trying to sell thousand-dollar watches in the street. And if that’s the only thing you’re offering and the only way your visitors can engage with you, then they’re just going to say ‘No thanks’ and leave, giving you no way to contact them again and no way to get them back. As you might have guessed, this is a poor strategy!
Imagine this scenario: Someone has typed ‘fitness tips’ into Google, found your page essentially by accident and now you’re trying to sell them a training program for $500. People don’t make decisions on that basis unless they’re loaded with cash. They’ll see you’re trying to sell them, write you off as spam and then leave.
Now imagine the alternative: the sales funnel technique. They do the same thing: they type in ‘fitness tips’ and land on your site where they get some great information right away.
That information is unique, interesting and useful but at the bottom, it tells the audience that if they want your ‘5 Most Powerful Tips’, they just have to enter their details to receive your free guide.
There’s very little reason for them not to do this: you’ve demonstrated that you’re can provide value and you’re offering something for free. All they have to do is give you their contact details – but as you'll point out, they can always unsubscribe if they don’t want to hear anything more from you.
They get their free guide and once again, they think it’s really good. However, at the same time, they’re now getting emails from you – emails with highly engaging and interesting subject lines. The people who click those emails are now showing very good engagement and you can see that they’re the kind of people that would want to buy from you.
Those people will receive an email on an automated basis that invites them to a free webinar where they can hear you talk about fitness. This is a great, rare opportunity and if they like what you’ve done so far, they should definitely get involved.
They do that and since they’ve gone so far out of their way to hear you and they’ve listened to the whole thing, they’ve now made the full transition to fan. They are now engaging with you in a big way and going out of their way to hear more from you.
Quick Psychology Lesson!
This relates to an interesting aspect of psychology called ‘cognitive dissonance’.
Did you know that the best way to make someone like you is to get them to do things for you?
Why? Because this creates a state of cognitive dissonance in their mind otherwise. The brain likes congruence – it likes to see that your actions are consistent with your beliefs.
If you do something for someone that takes a lot of effort, the brain assumes that you must really like them to have been willing to go to such lengths. The same thing applies here.
If someone engages with your brand – if they rush to your webinar and wait for you to come online – they tell themselves they must be big fans of your work!
At the same time, when someone has put a lot of effort into something, that then creates a strong motivation to ‘get something from it’. Your audience will want closure and the best way to do that is by buying from you!
After your free webinar, the next stage is to sell to them. This is them taking the next step and transitioning from a visitor or a fan into a paying customer. This is the point where they become willing to buy from you and where you can start making money.
BUT it’s not going to be the ‘high ticket’ item yet. Instead, you’re just going to sell them something very small. This very small offer could be something along the lines of an eBook, masterclass or mini course. It should cost anywhere from $5 to $50 and helps to demonstrate they can buy from you and trust you.
Why Your Small Sale Is So Important
This “small sale”, also known as a tripwire, is a key part of your sales funnel (and one that not everyone will know to include). The basic idea behind this is that you’re giving your audience the chance to buy from you without much risk.
Because, as we saw with our watch salesman, one of the biggest ‘barriers to sale’ is risk. People are naturally risk averse and hate the idea that they might hand over their cash, only for you to go running off into the sunset laughing at their stupidity.
They need to know that they can buy from you and trust you.
And if they don’t know that, then getting them to spend $5,000 is going to be very hard. But now, sell them something for $5 and you can get them to say ‘Why not?’. They’ve seen you can offer value from the other steps in your sales funnel and the risk of losing $5 is very little. So they take their chances. Only now, they know they can trust you.
This is MUCH easier than trying to get them to take the plunge when they’ve never dealt with you before.
And finally, it’s off the back of that sale that you’re going to then sell your higher-ticket offers. At this point, they’ve seen your free content, but if they want to get more value from you, they’ll need to buy your more expensive offers.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how a sales funnel works and why it’s such an important tool for maximizing your sales. At the same time though, it’s worth noting that the steps themselves don’t need to look like this. You might not have an email list or webinar – but you can still create a funnel.
What’s most important, is to have a series of escalating ‘steps’, with each one increasing engagement and growing your fan base.