What is sales funnel? Offline example



The sales funnel is not so black as it is painted

People often perceive funnels wrongly. They think it’s a very complicated system that requires all day and all night work. It’s a mistake. Sales funnel is a natural process that is compatible wit human psychology. Therefore, we usually don’t realize that we fell into the funnel. What’s more, it happens that we create them unconsciously.

In order to understand what funnels are, we need to follow the path of a person from the stage of having a problem, all the way through to the solution. Let’s take an example taken from life, shall we?

Toothache as a beginning of a sales funnel

Everyday, while commuting to work, you pass by the dental clinic with an aesthetically pleasing banner that promise fast and painless procedures. You don’t pay much attention to it. Few days later, you start to feel an alarming toothache. You try not to think about it, but you know that at some point you would have to go to the dentist.

Next time you drive to work, something catches your attention. It’s a clinic banner: it looks different. This time they offer a free teeth scaling for everybody. Hmmm… You think it’s a great opportunity to improve your dental health and also share your concerns about the toothache with a doctor.

After work, you schedule your first scaling appointment. During the procedure, you find out about several teeth problems, so you schedule more appointments.

When your teeth are done, the dentist encourages you to whiten your teeth. As the procedure is quite expensive, you ask for some more time to think about it. Unfortunately, after a few days you forget about the whole thing. However, two months later, you receive a text message from the clinic, informing about the discount for teeth whitening. It turns out that you can pay installments. It made the decision easier for you and you agree to get the procedure done.

Oops… you’ve just fell into a sales funnel

This whole situation is a classic example of sales funnel, but it’s offline. The clinic has created it and you fell for it. How do you feel about that? People, who realize that it works like that are often disappointed and feel manipulated.

So look into the mirror and see your white, healthy and shiny teeth. Think about it once again.

Did the clinic give you a reason to feel that you’ve been used? All your problems have been solved. The service has been performed at the highest standard. This was the first time in your life when you actually liked your doctor! At the end, thanks to an attractive offer, you had your teeth whitened, and you’ve always wanted to do that. That’s a success, no reasons to complain.

So how did it happen that you’ve chosen this particular clinic and spend a significant amount of money there?

What does it look like from the other side?

Let’s revert the situation. You’re the dentist. After long years of working in various clinics, you’ve finally opened your own and that was a dream come true for you. You put your whole heart and savings into that investment. You buy modern equipment and hire excellent specialists. This just has to work. Unfortunately, there is not a single client in the day of opening, to your surprise. The situation doesn’t improve dramatically in the nest days, weeks…

Increasing frustration makes you look for unconventional solutions. You spend your last coins to change the banner. The cheesy one where you advertise painless procedures is replaced by an invitation for a free scaling. In the end, showing the quality of your services should be a priority.

Wow! You didn’t expect that. A lot of people started scheduling their appointments. You use that to inform them about all their teeth problems. They didn’t even have the chance to pay you, and yet they get something valuable. You add a high standard and voila! People start scheduling more and more appointments. Finally, business starts growing.

What now?

So you just roll with the punches. You realize that drilling and filling teeth is not enough to use the whole potential of your clinic. You include aesthetic procedures to your offer – teeth whitening for example. In order to perform this procedure, the teeth of a patient have to be fully healthy. So you recommend the offer to the people, who have already done all the necessary procedures. It doesn’t go as well as you expected. Some of your clients immediately decide to get their teeth whitened, but for the most part the offer is not very attractive for them.

So you analyze, what could go wrong? Until one day one of your patients asks if they can pay in installments. Eureka! It was all about the money. The procedure itself is not so expensive, however, including all of the previous visits, it could be a challenge for your clients’ wallets. So you change the strategy. Now you inform your clients not only that the end of treatment is a perfect time to perform whitening. You also tell them about the real cost of such procedure.

At the same time you decide to remind your clients about whitening via text message. Messages are being sent 2 months after patient’s last visit. You also include installments option. The effect? A lot of scheduled procedures.

What does sales funnel include?

As a clinic owner you’ve done a fantastic job. By acting according to the doctor’s practice and your own gut feeling, you’ve been building a sales funnel for your business. You subconsciously optimized your actions to increase the sales and maintained the high standard of your services. In effect you implemented all the elements of a good funnel into your business:

1. Awareness

2. Interest

3. Decision

4. Action

Let’s explain all of the above elements, using the example of a dental clinic.

Stage 1. Awareness

Your clients need to be aware that your brand exists and what you do. When it comes to dental clinic, the banner was a great idea. Other methods that may work in this case are flyers or an ad in the local newspaper. In the typical funnel, awareness can be built on social media (Facebook, Instagram).

Stage 2. Interest

When people are aware that your company exists, another step is to get them interested in your offer. It is easiest to do by offering free value, which can be used to solve problems of your potential clients. When it comes to our example clinic, the element that sparked interest was free scaling offer. This encouraged the customers to consider paying for other services.

It is an important element of the whole funnel – you receive contact information to your potential client. As it turns out, the free scaling procedure was not entirely free. Patients had to give the clinic their personal data and contact information. It was a true price.

This way you can build your own client contact database. It is created by your potential clients, so you can direct your sales offers to them, without them getting upset. That was exactly what a clinic owner did, when he wanted to inform his clients about a discount for teeth whitening. He used the fact that his clients gave him their telephone numbers. It could’ve even been an email address.

However, the clinic owner didn’t do one thing: he didn’t build his contact list before opening the clinic. It would have been so much easier to grow a business at it’s early stages, if he had collected his patients’ contact information, so he could inform them about a new clinic directly. Of course, there are certain legal limits. The patients have to give their consent in order to receive sales offers.

Stage 3. Decision

Decisive process is really complex. The closer your offer is to solve the client’s problem, the faster they make their decision. Two biggest obstacles on the way are the price and the lack of trust. Your task is to make those obstacles insignificant in comparison to benefits of your offer.

When it comes to the example of clinic, the task was relatively easy, as a doctor is trustworthy. Of course, it is not enough. It is not easy to argue with a doctor’s diagnosis, however, the patient can still choose from a variety of clinics.

A key element is to build a relationship with the client. Kind and professional service make patients feel safe and they trust their doctor. This kind of relationship make decision easy, even if the price is high.

Stage 4. Action

A key element of the whole funnel. If your client sees your product as a solution to their problem, they trust you, and the price is acceptable, they will make a purchase. Don’t treat this element as an end of your funnel. A good system should contain several sales offers. What’s important, the price should correspond with real needs of your client.

A good example is a teeth whitening offer in our clinic. The price of this procedure was much higher than the standard, so the chances of success grew with building a good relationship with the client and by making the payment process easier with installment option.

And yet, the dentist, who knows what they’re doing, could even add a step between a standard procedure and teeth whitening. For example sealing, which protects teeth from decay. Doing that procedure would help the patient to patiently wait until they can afford the whitening procedure.

The power of problem

The example of dental clinic was supposed to show that sales funnels are a part of our lives and everyone can experience this kind of story. After all, who doesn’t go to the dentist? Exactly.

Everyone has problems. Not only dental ones. While creating your own funnel online, you should focus on the problems your potential clients have. This way you can understand their motivation and you will be able to complete your range of products.

Go to the entry to find out more: Sales funnels – what it consists of>>

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