The “sales funnel” is a core marketing concept of online business that is often discussed in the business and blogging sphere. As a business owner, you should review your sales funnel from time to time to check that you have an optimal marketing and sales strategy.

To understand the “sales funnel”,  visualize a funnel that is broad at the top and narrow at the bottom. The top of the funnel is the first point of entry for inviting prospects to your business – at this point you have cold leads – i.e. people who do  not know much about your business. As you move down the funnel towards the middle, you should have more qualified customers to whom you can sell a range of middle priced products. The bottom section is the most profitable part of your funnel – you should be promoting more expensive high end products to customers in this section – an example would be providing high value “one on one” consulting services.

Here are some factors to consider when evaluating how well your sales funnel is performing:

Are You Attracting Enough Prospects?

Direct response marketing techniques are a popular method to use to attract the attention of your prospects and to lead them into the top of your funnel to become “warm leads”.

Your business may entice the prospect by offering them a free report or a product sample if they subscribe to your newsletter – anything can be offered that is of value to your customers.

Other methods to attract prospects include networking, obtaining referrals through business partners, forming joint venture partnerships, and promoting your business through social media marketing and offline events such as trade shows and local business meet ups.

If your business is lacking leads, it might be time to brainstorm some new strategies to attract more prospective customers to your sales funnel.

Create “Front End” and “Back End” Products

A prospect at the top of your funnel will move down the funnel when they make their first purchase and become a customer. Often the first products that they purchase will be what are termed “front end” products, which are usually a high value, low priced product that provides an almost irresistible offer to the customer. “Back end” products are products that are promoted in conjunction with “front end” products – and usually complement the “front end” products well. The ability to provide a good range of “Front End” and “Back End” products will help to increase sales and drive up profits.

From First Time to Repeat Customers

As customers move down the funnel, they may become repeat customers, and purchase more expensive high end products from your business. Repeat customers are more likely to purchase further products if they have had a positive experience with your initial products. The ability of your business to establish a good relationship with customers will be a critical factor in determining whether they become regular customers.

Create More Raving Fans

Your sales funnel is a critical part of your business model – review your sales funnel with a fine eye, and apply some new marketing strategies based on your review to ramp up your profits.

As prospects make their way down the sales funnel, your prospective customers for your business will convert from cold leads into warm leads, and then into qualified and repeat buyers. A percentage of your repeat customers will also become raving fans.

“A raving fan is someone who adores your business to the core – they are keen to consume everything that is offered, and eagerly await your next product release.”

It’s likely that they will also be closely aligned to the purpose and values espoused by your business.

Once you’ve got a solid base of regular customers, go the next step and work on creating a base of raving fans – people who just can’t get enough of your business.

Nurture Regular Customers

What’s a more solid business model – always having to find new customers to sell to, or establishing and maintaining a solid base of regular customers?

The latter option is much more appealing (and profitable!). Your business will be in a much better position to attract repeat customers if it can offer high value products or services on a consistent basis. A personal example of this are my favorite restaurants that I visit regularly because they produce quality food and service with a smile. These businesses have been operating for years and have been able to deliver the goods consistently to their customers. They have a solid base of regular clients who love their food and service, and keep coming back for more.

Customers and sales are the lifeblood of any successful business. Review your sales funnel and check how well your business is performing – you will certainly find areas to work on. You might identify that  you need to work on increasing your repeat customers, or perhaps you may decide that your business needs to create more high value products to sell. Either way, improving your sales funnel will have positive results for your bottom line.