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How I Built a Sales Funnel that Generates 7 Figures a Week

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The new year is an important time for entrepreneurs to reflect — what are we going to do differently this year to reach that next milestone in growth? You can take a magnifying glass to social media trends, your team or a number of other factors, but I’d like to draw your eye to the bare bones of the operation — the sales funnel. A sales funnel is kind of like the skeleton of your marketing; it holds the structure of the customer journey, which takes them from the first point of contact all the way to purchase.

It is possible your leads are getting lost somewhere down the pipeline, and it’s your job to find out where and improve it. To save you the agony of not knowing where to start, I will line up some suggestions.

Over the last 24 years of doing business, I have vetted my own sales funnels, which generate an average of 2000 leads and seven figures in revenue every week. I share my sales funnel secrets with my clients, and I want to share them with you too! Here’s what I have learned:

Related: 3 Tweaks That Dramatically Improve Your Sales Funnel

Find marketing tactics that warm up cold leads

Imagine spending hours in below-zero temperatures and then walking straight into a sauna. Wouldn’t it be better to get wrapped up in a cozy, warm blanket or sit by a toasty fire and warm up slowly instead? But that’s what some companies do when they first reach out to a cold lead with not-so-warm marketing tactics. The worst examples would be door-to-door salesmen, cold calls and spam text messages or emails.

To get prospects to warm up to you, you need to soften your strategy. Think wrapping them in a warm blanket, not shoving them in a flaming ring of fire.

Popular points of entry include radio/TV commercials, cold emails, social media ads, Google ads and direct mail. But here’s why I love using direct mail the most when it comes to casting that wide net at the top of your sales funnel: Direct mail is less invasive, less annoying AND sticks around far longer than the alternatives.

It’s not that sending emails is all bad; I actually recommend that my clients send emails as a follow-up method. However, it’s not the most effective form of advertising at the top of your funnel. First off, the cold emails could go to the spam folder. Second, they could get left unopened. Third, get buried in a deep sea of emails from other companies that are doing the exact same thing. Not to mention that your prospect may wonder how you got their email in the first place! If they didn’t give it over willingly, they are very unlikely to engage with you.

Direct mail, on the other hand, doesn’t have to be opened (as long as it’s a postcard), so the recipient is forced to look at it, they can read it on their own time whenever they are comfortable (no one likes getting distracted by annoying emails during the work day), and it has a higher chance of staying in the hands of the prospect as well. According to a study done by MarketReach in 2020, 75% of business mail stays in the home for over 4 weeks and is revisited an average of five times.

But I discovered all of this information just by doing research and from my own experiences and preferences as a consumer. My most personal experience is that I’ve tested direct mail as the first step in a sales funnel over and over again and have built an $83 million business on it.

While this is my truth, you will have to do your own exploration of cold sales tactics. I’d suggest trying direct mail consistently and tracking results, then comparing it with a few other selected strategies, such as Google ads or social media.

Related: 5 Tricks to Instantly Connect With Any Sales Prospect

Automating your follow-up will deliver a consistent return on your investment

Marketing consistently is the key to long-term growth. However, it is much more difficult to be consistent when you or your team members are in control of the daily (or even hourly) tasks.

Automating your follow-up will save you a lot of time and help you stay consistent in communicating with leads and customers. I learned this pretty early on in my business when I started growing exponentially and simply didn’t have the time to do follow-up myself.

So, once you’ve got someone interested in your business, they visit your website for more information (which is why it’s so crucial to have an incredible website set up). This is when they start determining if you are worth their time, money, and ultimately, an action.

If they make a purchase or call you right away, great! Some people are quick to action, and you lucked out with a very hot lead that immediately took action.

Of course, most consumers aren’t going to buy right away or even call right away (if that’s required to make a sale), but some leads are hotter than others. A small portion will be interested enough to reach in to you somehow, whether they sign up for a discount on your website (hopefully you have a good offer on your website with a lead-capture form that makes it easy to convert), send you an email or even pick up the phone and call — these are the leads that have moved themselves a little further down the funnel. The next part of your funnel should be following up with them regularly.

You can accomplish this by automating emails that go out every few days, every week or month. You’ll have to find what works for your business. I personally follow up with leads that have reached in until someone asks me to stop because the number of people responding to a funnel email YEARS after they first reached in (and then going on to buy something) far outweighs the few who get annoyed quickly. I also automate follow-up to these leads using more personable postcards and setting alarms to call them if they’ve provided their phone number. There are a number of automation platforms that can be connected to your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to make this more manageable for you.

However, if the prospect doesn’t make a first purchase or convert on your website, you can still continue to move them through your sales funnel and deliver loads of follow-up in various formats.

One of the most common methods of follow-up today is first-party cookies that enable digital ads to make impressions on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Google. These impressions will then remind them to consider you again and respond. It will also help lead them back to your website to discover more information about your products and services and bring them closer to the bottom of the sales funnel, a.k.a. conversion.

Typically in my sales funnel, these first-party cookies are established after the prospect receives a postcard in the mail and visits the website.

I’ll give you a quick rundown of how this sales funnel looks for my clients. We call this all-in-one funnel campaign “Everywhere Small Business.”

  1. A postcard goes out to the prospect, encouraging them to call or visit the website.

  2. Marketing coordinators set up digital ads on thousands of websites, including Facebook and Instagram, targeting the same people who are receiving the postcards ahead of delivery of the cards.

  3. Call tracking captures all incoming phone calls so that staff can follow up and also improve customer service.

  4. Even if a prospect does not become a customer initially, they continue to see the digital ads in their online feeds for at least three months after the mailing.

The bottom line is, the more you stay in front of your prospects, the more they will remember who you are and consider purchasing.

Related: Follow Up Is the Sales Superstar’s Best Weapon

Keep your sales funnels alive by updating and improving them regularly

They say, “The only thing you can count on is change.” That is evermore true in marketing than any other industry because the trends keep evolving faster every year. The marketing tactic you relied on last year to bring your top-of-funnel leads down to conversion may not work the same this year.

Sales funnels are living and breathing entities that will either stagnate or perform based on the life that you inject into them. You can create a “set it and forget it” type of social media campaign, but that won’t last forever. The best marketing strategies are the most personalized ones that speak directly to your audience and keep the most current trends in mind.

So, how do you figure out what to change? You can research new marketing strategies all day long — that’s why you are likely reading this right now — but the real proof in the pudding comes when you perform A/B testing. Take a couple of new sales funnel ideas, and test them out. That’s how I figured out what worked for me, and I still do it today with the current direct mail innovations I’m working on.

By regularly reviewing your sales funnels and adjusting them based on performance, you’ll see a greater ROI and ultimately better relationships with your customers.

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Entrepreneurship

10 Things Every Working Woman Should Do This Year

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Self-care has become an all-encompassing term that has strayed from the importance of everyday commodities that keep us in good health and spirits. Though pampering and “treat yourself” moments still have value, here are ten ways to invest in yourself to produce long-lasting, positive results.

Related: 8 Self-Care Tips From Wildly Successful Entrepreneurs

1. Put money into a 401(k)

It’s never too early (or too late!) to start saving for the future. Depending on your employment status, there are different retirement savings accounts. 401(k)s are the most common since these are employer-sponsored and often come with an employer match. However, freelancers also have options, such as a SEP-IRA or a high-yield savings account, to put away extra, tax-free dollars for retirement.

2. Schedule a health checkup

Self-care first includes taking care of your physical health. It’s easy to discredit regular checkups when you’re feeling healthy, but make this the year to get your blood work done. It creates a baseline for your health to identify areas needing improvement or extra attention.

Also, choose areas in your life where you can make small changes. Improving your health doesn’t always mean a drastic overhaul; it may be as simple as drinking more water or adding an extra 30 minutes of exercise to your day.

Related: 3 Key Tips for Optimizing Your Physical Health as an Entrepreneur

3. Review health insurance benefits

Many people with health insurance aren’t sure exactly what it does and doesn’t cover. If you’re unsure, talk with your HR representative or your health insurance provider to get an overview of deductibles, co-payments and other supplemental benefits you may not be aware of. Then, decide if the health care plan makes sense for your current lifestyle.

Are you paying for benefits you don’t use, or do you need additional benefits that aren’t covered? Selecting the right plan will help ensure you have what you need without paying the extra expense for anything you don’t.

4. Ignite your curiosity

Maintaining healthy cognitive functions through new pursuits gives a boost to the brain. Get curious and find what speaks to you. This can be anything from exploring local museums, embarking on different hiking trails, learning a new language or reading more books.

There’s no limit to what you can do, and these activities can ignite more creativity and motivation in your work. While it may be helpful to look to others for inspiration, make them enjoyable so you’ll want to make them a regular occurrence.

5. Prioritize mental health

Mental health has been at the forefront of people’s lives over the past few years, as many have experienced burnout. We often equate productivity with a value that drives us to go beyond our means and leads to anxiety, stress and depression. Take note of your everyday stressors and see how to reduce or eliminate them. Then, replace them with relaxing outlets that allow you to recharge.

There are various ways to prioritize mental health, from practicing positive self-talk to meditation to scheduling an electronics-free day. You may have to try different solutions before you find one that fits.

Related: 5 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health as an Entrepreneur

6. Implement good sleep habits

Consistent sleep is one of the essential factors of good health but one that is often overlooked. For many, it can be challenging to wind down from the workday. Therefore, you must “train” your body to prepare for sleep by getting into a nighttime routine.

Create a sanctuary for yourself to improve your sleep habits. Enjoy a soothing cup of herbal tea, perform a skincare routine, and snuggle in with a good book rather than scrolling through your phone. Additionally, ensure your bedroom is dark and cool for ideal sleep comfort and turn on soothing sounds if it helps lull you to sleep.

7. Try something new

What have you wanted to try but have always held back? Maybe it’s public speaking or contributing to a blog. Whatever “new” has been on your to-do, make a plan, schedule it on your calendar and go for it. It’s common to hold back from these activities due to fear of the unknown or failure, but trying new things helps create confidence and can be the catalyst you need to push you to the next level.

8. Learn to set boundaries

Boundary setting is crucial to relationships yet can be difficult to master. It doesn’t always involve simply saying no to people’s requests. Instead, it requires protecting your own values when people violate them. Setting boundaries may mean spending less time with certain people, removing yourself from toxic situations, or declining invites to events that don’t improve your life. Explore areas where boundaries will help you grow, and keep in mind growth itself is a work in progress.

Related: How to Set Boundaries to Build Thriving Relationships

9. Spend quality time alone

Learning how to enjoy time spent alone is a valuable gift. We are inundated by a false sense of connection through the internet, which often makes us feel lonelier than ever. Then, we overschedule our calendars to make up for human connections, only to feel drained afterward. Slow it down and plan a few solo dates a month to see how it feels to be truly present with yourself.

For those who aren’t used to spending quality time alone, it can feel awkward and uncomfortable initially, but these stem from your own perceptions. Take in a matinee, sit in a coffee shop and read, or enjoy a concert or event you’ve wanted to attend. Alone time has been linked to improved stress management and greater life satisfaction, so it’s worth trying to give yourself more time.

Related: Turns Out, Those Who Like Being Alone Can Be More Creative

10. Get active

Getting active can take on several directions. It can be physical, emotional or spiritual. The point is to engage with people and pursuits that feed your soul. Whether volunteering within your community, setting yourself an exercise goal, or learning more about personal development, there are endless ways to get active and invest in yourself this year.

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Are You a Winner? How to Truly Define Winning in Your Business

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Businesses gauge their performance typically with dozens of goals and metrics. But you can’t do everything at once. The challenge is to get people focused on the one thing that’s most important right now. If it moved in the right direction, it would eliminate a weakness (or capitalize on an opportunity) and improve financial outcomes. You improve that, and you win.

However, not every company clearly defines winning. A catalog of goals can pull the organization in multiple directions and stretch finite resources. Numerous goals can inherently be at odds, working against each other and for conflicting purposes. For example, a cost reduction goal might undermine an innovation goal requiring a significant investment.

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Gen Z Is Making Ugg Boots Fashionable Again: Report

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Ugg boots, the furry, sheepskin boots that defined the 2000s are back, apparently, with spiking interest and Gen Z cachet, according to data from shopping website, Lyst.

The site’s annual quarterly report that highlights the “hottest” 20 fashion brands was released on Thursday, and, as Insider noted, Ugg is on it for the first time since the index began in 2017.

“Gen Z shoppers are breathing new life into once dormant brands … with over 1.2 billion mentions on TikTok — Ugg’s influence is undeniable,” the report notes.

The boots were also sold out of stores during the holidays, it added.

Generation Z, or people born between 1997 and 2012, has demonstrated a penchant for bringing back old technology and trends, from flip phones to “vintage” headphones with cords.

But Ugg boots go back much further — the word “ugg” is actually a general term in Australia that means boots made from sheepskin and fleece, according to the BBC.

The company that created the “UGG” boot, Deckers Outdoor Corporation, is based in the U.S. and has tried and failed to trademark the word in Australia (where a court decided it was a generic word and thus could not be trademarked), the outlet added.

The company says the boots began to gain popularity in California in the 1980s. They were first featured on Oprah’s Favorite Things in 2000 (a huge brand-maker back then) and became “cherished commodities” early in the decade, according to Vogue.

The boots later gained prominence again with a fashion movement that prioritized “ugly” clothes, and have since become an unironic Gen Z favorite, per Insider. Kylie Jenner was also spotted wearing them in November.

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