The sales funnel is a marketing strategy that’s essentially a series of steps used to monitor a prospect’s initial awareness of you and your products and services through to the ultimate goal of purchasing from you. It’s how prospects go from “Who are you?” to “Yes, I want to buy!”
It’s called a sales funnel because it’s wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. At the top is everyone who could be a customer. As they proceed through the funnel, people who aren’t interested drop out, while those who are interested get “funneled” down to the bottom where they become customers.
The sales funnel as a marketing tool has a long history. It originated in 1898 in the insurance industry and outlined the four steps it took for a person to go from prospect to customer:
Marketing professionals in the 21st Century have renamed the stages to better suit their business models, but the A-I-D-A model continues as the standard upon which others are built.
For this article, we’re using the original with a few additions that make a funnel for the kitchen design/remodeling industry more appropriate.
As a kitchen designer and/or remodeler, you should start to build awareness of your business through marketing to prospects. You build this awareness not by explaining how great the kitchens are that you designed or remodeled in the past, but by addressing ways that homeowners can benefit from having a new kitchen, like more storage, better workflow, room for family gatherings, energy efficient appliances, etc.
There are thousands of people out there who would love to spend their money on your design services. But that audience of potential customers doesn’t know you exist. And most of them aren’t actively looking to spend money on kitchen cabinets like the ones you sell.
At least not right now.
In the Awareness Stage, you begin your attempts to get the attention of people who don’t know you or your products or services. That’s your job at this stage: not to make a sale, but to create awareness and get people to visit your website.
This is where your business blog will serve you well. The goal of your blog is to generate awareness of and interest in your products and services, and if you optimize the content with the right keywords, people can find your website via organic search. There’s no need to pay for advertising when SEO principles are in play.
In the Interest Stage, you’ve attracted people to your site, now you have to give them reasons to come back, reasons to like you.
Your prospects have expressed their interest in your products and services. They follow you on social media and have subscribed to your email list.
You can engage them further with:
When prospects are in the Interest phase, they become aware of the problems they need to solve and ways to find a solution. This is where the lead magnet becomes important. Lead magnets will generate interest in your products and services by offering something of value to the reader, something that provides information about your products and services and how they can help solve their problems.
Other ways to keep prospects engaged and moving through the funnel include:
To further entice prospects, you can show them reviews from satisfied customers, before-and-after case studies and testimonials to establish your credibility and demonstrate your talent, experience and trustworthiness.
You might consider providing something free. As a kitchen design professional, you can offer a free one-time design consult. (Don’t give away any drawings – suggestions only!) You’re offering yourself and your expertise. It’s an opportunity to build rapport with your prospects by interacting with them, answering questions and responding to their feedback.
They are wondering how your business might work for them. You’re getting buying signals from them – they’re asking about prices, different packages and options, terms and conditions, whether you’re available to work with them. They want what you are offering!
It’s time to ask prospects for the sale.
You’re at the bottom of the funnel: your prospect becomes a customer by finalizing the deal with you. He signs the contract and writes a check.
More Modifications for Today’s Customers and Their 21st Century Buying Habits
Two Additional Steps
John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing and a marketing guru, has proposed that the concept of sales funnel has become outdated. He proposes that the funnel shape-shift into a marketing hourglass. So rather than have customers drain out the bottom of the funnel when the sale is complete, they remain in the bottom of the funnel. And your job is to get them to Repeat and Refer, both are desired results that occurs after a sale is complete.
To convert first time customers into repeat customers, you want them to understand the value of doing business with you.
Don’t walk away after the kitchen remodel is complete; follow up, make sure everything works as it should, help the homeowners complete all warranties if necessary, show them where their cabinet finish touch-up kit is and how to use it, send them flowers or fruit or a magazine subscription as a “thank you” gift. You might offer a six-month check-up service to adjust door and drawer soft-close, confirm that doors are hanging correctly, etc. – anything you can think of that will impress the homeowners and reassure them they made the right decision hiring you.
And, of course, when you’re with them again, you can begin to upsell and cross-sell. “Love your new kitchen? Just think what we can do for your bathroom.”
How to turn happy customers into referring customers? You do this first of all by creating a great experience — by being referral worthy.
As we’ve written previously, consumers today are increasingly influenced by peer reviews. Having those positive reviews on the web – on your website, on Houzz.com, on Facebook, on Yelp – all increase your SEO ranking and give you those coveted stars on Google, so you’re seen by more people when they search for “kitchen designer” or “kitchen remodeler” in your area.
Not everyone converts from “Awareness” to “Action.” Some people drop out, and that’s completely normal. In addition, the same sales funnel will not apply to all customers because each has a unique problem. They all have different reasons for contracting your services, and they’ll make buying choices in different ways.
But the Sales Funnel / Sales Hourglass can serve as a guide to monitor your prospects’ progress through the buying journey. Your services have a long sales cycle; it can take months for a final decision to be reached, if you measure from initial awareness to completed kitchen. The sales funnel / hourglass helps to keep things in focus and make sure none of your hard-won prospects “fall through the cracks.”
To read more about the sales funnel, here’s a few suggestions.