By Jeff Beals
Sales professionals talk about their “funnels” or their “pipelines” when discussing prospective clients and where those prospects are in the buying process.
Picture a big funnel like something you would use to pour oil into an engine. Instead of serving as a conduit for liquid, however, the sales funnel is a conduit for turning prospects into clients.
At the top of the funnel would be all the prospects that exist. As you go down the funnel, the opening narrows, meaning there is less space for prospects. Each step in the sales process requires you to go farther down into a narrower funnel. At the very bottom, only a few prospects drip out. Those “drips” represent the prospects who actually become clients.
When promoting your personal brand, you want to keep the funnel analogy in mind.
Let’s say you’re interested in a new job
In the job-search funnel, you have all possible employers at the top. A little ways down, you have the employers you actually meet. Next are the employers who actually receive your resume. Those with whom you interview are farther down the funnel. At the very bottom of the funnel would the employer who actually offers you the job you end up accepting.
Let’s say you’re interested in new clients
In the client-acquisition funnel, you have all prospective clients at the top. Other steps moving down from the top to the narrower parts would include those who hear about you, those who call you, those you meet in person, and those you engage in serious negotiation. Finally, the clients who actually sign contracts with you are represent the drops falling out of the funnel’s base.
When dealing with a funnel, you are working on people at every stage of the buying process. You should devote more time per prospect to those who are farther down. When you meet a new prospect, a “top-of-funnel person,” don’t worry about turning her into a closed deal right away. If you meet a potential employer, don’t expect to jump to a job offer right away. Your goal with any person in a funnel should be to advance him or her to the next step. Don’t worry about the end; just focus on pushing each person one step deeper into the funnel.
Fill the hopper
While you have to spend more time per person on prospects near the funnel’s bottom, you can’t forget the top. Some sales people focus so heavily on closing deals that months go by in which they don’t do any new prospecting. When their current deals either close or die, there’s nothing new. If a job seeker spends all his time focusing on one potential job, he can be left out in the cold if the job falls through and no other prospects are in his funnel. You must constantly fill the hopper.
Personal Brand Funnel
So how does the funnel relate to personal branding (or building a bigger name and reputation for yourself)?
Keep in mind that you are not just a person. You’re an entity, a brand, a business of one, a business unto yourself. The more people who have heard your name and have a positive feeling associated with your name, the more opportunities – both personal and professional – you will receive. Just as a business markets itself perpetually so must you.
People do business with other people. Regardless of what you do for a living, it’s in your best interest to never stop “prospecting,” meaning you are constantly looking to meet new people. Once you meet them, slowly push them through your personal funnel until they eventually become close relationships with whom you can share mutually beneficial opportunities.
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker, sales consultant and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (402) 637-9300.
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