Sales Funnels 101: The Mechanics Behind Selling Online

Anyone who’s mildly interested in business needs to understand the concept of the sales funnel. But what are sales funnels and how do they work? In essence, they’re automated sales processes configured to increase sales and conversions. At the end of the day, sales funnels offer the path of least resistance and highest probability to growing and scaling a business fast, no matter the present size, industry or niche it’s in.

Sales funnels are also quite possibly one of the most important concepts in business.  They help you sell on autopilot. They can take your company from zero to hero in lightning speed. Think weeks and months as opposed to years and decades. That’s how important they are. Thus, by understanding and wielding prowess over this single business concept, you can literally hop on your own personal rocket ship to the moon.

However, before you get ahead of yourself, you have to understand some of the underlying psychology that drives people to buy. Keep in mind that almost no one wants to buy what you’re selling. They just don’t. Your success depends, not on them wanting what you have, but on your ability to influence them in a way that will get them to buy. To do that, you need a sales funnel. That sales funnel will help you influence your prospect’s decision to buy whatever it is that you’re peddling through the fervent powers of persuasion 

that all human desire is based on one foundation principle. That principle states that we will always do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure. The best marketers in the world understand this principle. They work to invoke pain and pleasure in all of their marketing. The best are able to strategically interweave these into their pitches and sales letters and sign-up forms.

This principle of pain versus pleasure can easily be leveraged by positioning your products or services in the right way to help leverage this strategically. When you think about pleasure, you can also think about the benefit. What’s the biggest benefit (pleasure) that a consumer is going to get when they buy what you’re selling. You also have to think about what they’re going to avoid (pain).

You can do this both in your headlines and in your copy. In fact, the better you do this in every stage of your sales  funnel, the more likely you’ll be to sell fast and furiously. If you don’t properly leverage this principle, then selling will become excruciatingly difficult. One quick way to audit your sales funnel is to ensure that you’re quickly presenting prospects with a big benefit while also helping them to avoid pain.

This starts with the headline and weaves its way into the copy. Keep in mind that the average attention span for a consumer these days is 8 seconds. That’s down from 12 seconds at the turn of the century. The fact that we have a very short attention span should be no surprise to anyone. Thanks to the rise of social media and smartphones, we expect real-time access to everything and anyone, no matter where live or what we do for a living.

However, that also adds to much of the confusion that clouds selling. The art of persuading a prospect to buy from you is one that’s been long-taught by hardcore direct-marketing professionals. But it’s also something that isn’t always directly replicate unless you understand both the art and science of selling. When you only understand one side of the equation–either only the art or only the science–selling is excruciatingly difficult

When you look at how sales funnels operate, it’s clear that there’s a science to it. It’s a science based on traffic, leads and sales. It means a deep-rooted analysis of conversions and understanding where the customer came from and how far along they got in the funnel before either dropping off or successfully completing the sale. Of course, there’s also the science of configuration in funnels. How well is the landing page (squeeze page) configured? How much does the copy or headline appeal the audience? And so on and so forth.

But there’s also an art to sales funnels. That art invokes an age-old skill that dates back to the beginning of our species–storytelling. Just how well you can pitch a story within the framework of your sales funnel will ultimately guarantee your success or failure. If that story doesn’t fit into the framework of your sales funnel and it doesn’t appeal to the target market, or if the offer is simply not an irresistible one, your efforts will falter and fail.

So how do you position a story within the framework of a sales funnel? And how well do you use two underlying concepts to sell, sell, sell–urgency and scarcity. The difference between the art and science there is whether you use fake urgency and fake scarcity, or not. How legitimate is your so-called, irresistible offer? Does it really expire or fill up? Remember, people know the difference between fake and real urgency and scarcity

Two fundamental concepts in persuasion selling are urgency and scarcity. Why? Because, we want what we can’t have or can only have for a brief period. That’s just human nature. Once we know we can easily have something, it becomes less attractive to us. However, when something is very difficult to acquire, it becomes far more valuable in our eyes. Even if, in the real world, it’s not that valuable, to us, it becomes that way when we know it’s extremely difficult to attain.

Think about the diamond for a moment. Diamonds are rare. But so is gold. That’s scarcity at work. The more scarcity there is, the higher the price. There’s a direct correlation there. That’s also true with urgency. When a sale is going to expire, for example, very soon, we’re more inclined to purchase something. Even if we don’t need it at that moment. There’s major urgency at play here. That’s why you always see sales that are for a “limited time” because it just works?