Without a solid and repeatable sales funnel, you have an ice cream truck. Where you essentially drive your product around, making lots of noise, in hopes that people who want your product right at that very second you pass by come running into the street waving money and stop you.
While theoretically, this might work, it's not very realistic and not very profitable (unless maybe you sell ice cream).
Marketing funnels allow you to create a sales process that does much of the work for you, allowing you to only “stop the truck” for people who are ready to buy (or listen to your presentation, etc.).
Sales funnels allow you to foster the sales process of Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy. You can’t typically skip steps in the sales process, and sales funnels allow you to Sheppard prospects along the path to the sale for you, getting them to the “try” phase (like a free assessment of a business from a sales rep, etc.…).
We run into this all the time with pay per click advertising clients. Unless your product is sub $100, you need to be pointing them to a funnel process, not a mini-site with a checkout page.
You also have to set up a process before you start promoting and have a funnel where there are multiple opportunities to flag down that ice cream truck, but there are also lots of opportunities for them to learn more and stay warmed up, just like keeping the ice cream truck circling your exact block, just waiting for you (maybe super creepy in real life though right?).
Traditional Marketing is Over
Traditional marketing or advertising in its purest sense is a thing of history now. There are still plenty of people that feel that you can stick with the yellow pages and one channel of communication. However, they are either sales reps for those particular marketing channels or business owners who are rapidly losing market share to competitors.
Funnels integrate channels and tie things together for customers to be receptive to that sales call or take that meeting. Great marketing funnels allow you to keep doing cable TV, SEO, proximity marketing, and local magazine ads-all the things that DO make you money on their own. Funnels tie them all together and create a process that can 10x your ROI.
Sales funnels at their heart are systems. They create automatic opportunities and allow you to focus on your business, not chasing down prospects.
Sales funnels are not simply automated emails. So many agencies want you to believe that a series of emails, even ones giving free stuff away, will magically transform a business. Try it yourself free and see if it works, sign up for 30 days of aweber or campaign manager (automation platforms), write some emails and wait for the sales to roll in… and wait, and wait. If it does work, it will be about as effective as the ice cream truck, you may get one person waving money at you, but you may not be able to run a business with your results.
Sales funnels incorporate what works for you now and then amplifies them. Billboards? Great. Facebook ads? Great. Marketing funnels tie everything together and allow people to act on their own terms. Getting an audience for a sales presentation is a whole lot easier when the sales rep is part of a larger value chain.
I’d much rather drive around with pre-set appointments for clients to try my ice cream flavors to see which one actually makes them happy over hoping my random sales ice cream truck earns me some money before running out of gas.
For more on sales funnels, check out my (longish) video on the complete process of just what it takes for an agency to successfully launch and manage a sales funnel for a client. http://bit.ly/funnelbuildingcomplete