Goodbye, Sales Funnel. Hello, Sales Feedback Loop.

You might be familiar with the sales funnel, the image that features a large pool of customers at the top that narrows as leads are qualified and strengthened until they result in a purchase. What many companies don’t realize is that the sales funnel doesn’t stop at the sale. If anything, it’s the strongest opportunity to grab more leads.

Here’s why:

1.    Happy customers tell friends.

2.    Curious friends search on the internet, tune into ads, and interact on social.

3.    Curious friends become happy customers.

It’s more of a loop than a funnel because it never really ends. If you do it right, however—with strong messages, solid advertising, great products, excellent customer service and happy clients to begin with—it becomes less and less work as time goes on.

Start with great products and excellent service.

Word-of-mouth advertising has always been a business’s strongest ally, and today’s instant social feedback has not only increased its power, but also its exposure. A great marketing plan can expand your reach and your customer base, but it won’t do you any good if the customers you get aren’t happy or never return. Invest in your employees and your products first, so that you can walk the walk when you (and others) start talking.

I realize this may seem like you’re starting the sales process at the end, but hear me out: you need to have something to sell to sell it, so sell something good (and well).

Reward the curious.

Of course, word-of-mouth rarely results in an immediate sale. When I tell my best friend about a product I’ve fallen in love with, she reaches for the internet before she ever reaches for her wallet—and she trusts me! This is why having a solid marketing presence on and offline is so critical to sales success. The more information you can provide at the right place and time to prospective customers about your business and products, the more empowered your customers feel when making a decision. And the fewer questions you leave unanswered, the more qualified your leads will be.

And remember: Consumers like simple.

You’ll find this at every step, no matter what shape your sales leads follow. Whether it’s trading their contact information for a free download or convincing them to leave a review, people can be hard to motivate—until you give them a good reason, for better or worse.

Remember, most people prefer to convince themselves rather be convinced—which means they want to explore your website undisturbed, sneak onto your Facebook page, read buyer reviews, and so on. They’ll tune into your commercials if they feel like it (so make sure to schedule the media buys at the right time). And they’d rather do all of this all on their own terms and in their pajamas, with a pint of ice cream and Game of Thrones on in the background.

All this is to say that if they make the effort to pick up the phone or walk through your doors, it’s your sale to lose. Live up to the hype. And then make it as easy as possible for them to share their positive experiences with others so business keeps going—and growing.

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