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Sales Funnels: They Don’t Work & Why You Should Ditch Them

Sales funnels are unethical & I’m here to tell you why. I’m also here to tell you a much better, more sustainable way to acquire clients.

Ah, sales funnels. We’ve all been in them. We’re probably in them with some brands as of right now. We keep hearing how we need to use them with our own businesses.

But I am here to tell you to put the funnel down. It’s a-okay. Just let the funnel serve you as it was originally meant to serve you as, a little thing to put liquid through, not people. These funnels have nothing to do with business and they should be left in the kitchen.

Let’s first go through what a funnel is and why it’s there in the first place.

A sales funnel is almost like a track record for your sales. You’re putting (and tracking) your audience as they move from awareness to interest to consideration to intent to evaluation and, finally to buy.

With sales funnels you can see a certain percentage of people go through each stage, some dropping along the way, all the way until the purchase phase. While sales funnels do work – it doesn’t mean you should jump on the band wagon to South. Sales funnels are only helpful IF:

  1. Your main goal is to kill it with sales in the short term
  2. Your target audience move towards their purchase in very predictable ways (which is not always as black and white)
  3. Current revenue is more important than brand-building (which – excuse me?)
  4. Aquiring customers is more important than keeping them (which – are you kidding me?)
  5. You have no use for non-customers, which means people who are not in your funnel are useless. Sounds a bit like coercion to me.

Here is you a visual picture of a sales funnel.

 

image of a sales funnel

 

 

The main point of a sales funnel is to make a quick buck. And in modern day world, if you want your brand to be around for a good while, you should steer away from this sort of marketing. Why? Because in my opinion, people who have sales funnels, often tend to have weak brands. If you were to just focus on building your brand from the ground up, you would be much better off and you wouldn’t have to rely on sales funnels to make sales.

 

Table of contents

Exploring the concept of “sales funnels”
Why sales funnels are hurting your brand
What is The Brand Commitment Scale
How to use the ladder (and examples)
Conclusion

 

Exploring the concept of “sales funnels”

Like mentioned above, sales funnel is a literal funnel you put your audience through. From awareness all the way down to the sale. Some percentage of people go through the whole thing, while some people drop out during some point of the sales funnel.

The reason why sales funnels exists, is to make a quick buck. Why? Because when a person first comes in contact with your brand, it’s unlikely they will become a customer right away, you cannot pitch to a person as soon as they land on your website, because it’s “ineffective.” No shit, Sherlock.

So you put them in a sales funnel. I’ve also heard things such as if you fail to engage a first-time visitor, it could potentially result in missed selling opportunities.

I don’t need to be a scientist to say, that the accuracy is through the roof. 

But it doesn’t mean you should put them in a sales funnel. People go on your site to window shop. To learn more about you and your business. And as soon as you put them into any kind of a funnel, they might freak out. Which is why you have people dropping out like flies.

You have not build a relationship with this person, or if you want to call it a relationship, it’s a very shallow one. It’s not authentic nor genuine, and most often, sales funnels don’t bring you retention because you missed all the other super important steps you need to take in order to make people feel something. We’ll talk more about this later in this post.

 

Why sales funnels are hurting your brand

Not to be an old broken record, but sales funnels are to make a quick buck. You don’t care about building a relationship with your clients very much, you just want to make some dollars. Which, there is nothing wrong with that. BUT if you want to have a business for years to come, you need to have a different approach.

Remember when the lil’ pandemic hit the earth in 2020? Yeah, that guy. And litereally everyone and their mothers were starting businesses. Yeah, those people. These people were all about “10K months” and calling themselves online experts. Have you noticed how one by one they all have dissapeared and gotten jobs because they burnedout? Yeah. 

I wonder why.

I’m about to tell you why. Brands go through stages. It’s a thing. There are five cycles brands go through. And some brands get stuck certain phases.

  1. The first stage is all about getting your brand off the ground. Getting your products out there and building brand awareness. At this stage, your brand is like a reckless 21 year old trying to find their limits with tequila.
  2. Second stage is all about growth. You’ve gotten clients, you’re investing in ideas that are game changers in your niche.
  3. And now you got stuck. Everything was going so well, but now we’re stuck. Staring at a wall, no motivation, no inspiration. No excitement. It’s time to re-evaluate and re-align.
  4. Fourth stage. OH BOY, you better beep-beep out before you’re going to crash and burn. You got to get your act together and you only have a hot minute to cut back on everything and only keep things that are working well and establish a new growth plan, STAT.
  5. RIP. All hope is lost. You have no drive, no vision, your brand is not able to sustain itself. It’s time to shut opetations off.

This is exactly the cycle all these Instagram coaches went through from 2020 to end of 2021, when eveyrone was going offline to get day jobs. They took advantage of the funnel system and once they notices that people were going back to work, they noticed just how fragile their brands were and they ended up also calling it quits. And going back to their 9-5.

To recap – sales funnels are meant for people who want to make a quick buck. If you want to have a sustainable business and be in the game for long time, rather than investing in a sales funnel, you need to invest growing your brand and building a real relationship with your target audience. Like, yes, actually getting to know them instead of people to make a quick profit. Building a relationships will pay you much more in the future than having a sales funnel. 

 

What is The Brand Commitment Scale

Now that we know why you should stay away from these funnels and release them for their kitchen duties, I’m here to introduce you to something much more sustainable and better. I want you to go outside and bring the ladder in. Yes, the ladder.

I know. I asked you to put the funnel up so that you can go the ladder in. Just bear with me, okay? It’s better this way. Let me tell you why. Actually, let me show you why. This whole idea comes from the branding guru Marty Neumeier. Alright, so, let’s get knee deep.

 

A brand commitment scale - a picture of a ladder and explanation of the ladder

 

The brand commitment scale (BCS) is a much more sustainable way to grow your brand. Why? Because you’re focused on the customer and building an actual relationship with them, instead of focusing on sales numbers. While they matter, you’re nothing without people. The best and biggest brands out there understand this, which we’re going to talk about here soon.

So, what is the ladder exactly?

The ladder is for you to use to build customer experience in a way that attracts customers to you and turns them into loyal little cheerleaders. Think of Starbucks, Target, or even Amazon. Those stores are part of a lot of peoples identities. Without them, people would be lost. And it’s very possible for you to get your brand to that level. It just takes the right strategy and work. Again, put the sales funnels down.

The bottom step is all about satisfaction. You need to make sure that people that buy your products/services are satisfied. At this point, it’s a transactional relationship. They gave you money for your product/service and you delivered. They got what they needed from the product/service, which results in satisfaction.

If you want to take it further, you need to delight your customer. And boy, I tell you when this is the thing that I do, this is the thing that I do. When I tell you how important the unexpected, surprise and delight – which is all the same thing – is for your business and why you need to use it to make your clients happy, I mean it. Do not sleep on this. If you delight people they are WAY MORE prone to tell other people about your brand.

If you have done this, you’re in the engagement step. People engage with your brand on regular basis and you’re becoming a part of their lives. People are coming loyal, they purhace pretty much anything you put out there.

And BAM. You’re here. Made it to the top. People would literally be lost if you went out of business. They would feel like they would lose part of their identity. Your part of their lives and habits. Your product is a social status for them. Anything you put out there, they will buy. And they will talk about you to everyone and their mothers.

Can you see how much better this is than a sales funnels? 

 

How to use the ladder (and examples)

This is probably the part everyone is the most interested in. Tbh, I am too. Because there are so many ways you could use this and you *literally* have to just test it and see what your target audience vibes with. I wish there was a straight answer because in that case we’d all be swimming in the pool full of clients? Also yikes. What an image.

You have to know your audience really well. And I mean really well. I help my clients with this step – so if you’re interested for us to figure it out together – click here and fill out this bad boy. But if you’re an idenpendent woman – like me – I will give you the basics.

Most businesses can hit the first ladder easily. All you need to do is satisfy your client, should be pretty black and white, right? So, no need to discuss that.

Second, delight. Now, I made a whole post about the unexpected where you can read more about ways to surprise your clients. But I will give you a couple of examples here.

  1. Send a gift box (either welcome or when you’re parting your ways)
  2. Give them something extra (like an extra call or a discount coupon)
  3. Even something simple as sending a personalised thank you card after you’ve worked together or they’ve purchased something will do

All you need is something unexpected to delight your customers. It is that simple. 

To get people engaged with your brand, you obviously need to satisfy and delight them first. If you’ve done this, it’s pretty easy to move forward. People have started to build trust with your business and are likely to buy what you put out there. What you should focus on the belogning. Make sure that your clients feel like they’re part of something when they enagage with your brand or use your products.

Last but not least, once you’ve gone through all the other steps, all you need is to empower the client. Make sure they’re getting the status they want/need from your product. Make sure your product/service is life changing. Not just “oh, I did the thing and now I feel less stressed.” It needs to be like “I keep using this lavender spray once a day because it relaxes my stressed out mind and I feel so lux when my bathroom smells like the spa.” See? You give them everyday relaxation and you give them status upgrade because their bathroom smells like the spa.

As promised, let’s look some real life examples. 

Starbucks has over the time become climed the ladder currently, they’re on top. Which means they’re currently empowering their customers. Which they truly are. If you think about it, if Starbucks went out of business today, millions of people would be very dissapointed and sad. They wouldn’t know what to do with their lives. Starbucks is part of their daily habit.

They also provide status for the clients. As we know they’re not cheap and when people buy their products, it gives them status, “yeah, I can afford Starbucks.” In one of their recent Instagram posts, we can also see the status brought up.

two people cheering two starbucks drinks at the airport on their way to a vacation

 

The posts says: “Vacation mode: ON. 🏖 Head straight to your gate by ordering ahead at select Starbucks stores in US airports! ✈️” which again, hints that people who can afford to travel, drink Starbucks.”

Here is another proof. Starbucks has a rewards system for loyal customers and on the side of the cup, there is a message.

Picture of a Starbukcs cup with a message that says "that first sip feeling. Let us add a little joy to your day. Join Starbucks rewards."

Again, all about status for people. They know that everyday when people wake up, they desire that first sip of coffee like no other. Hence the “that first sip feeling.” They also added the second line that says, “Let us add a little joy to your day.”

They know their audience well enough that their products bring joy to their people. Which they use here to remind people of. “Hey, every time you go to Starbucks and buy their coffee, it brings you joy and gives you status.” Because again, Starbucks is premium coffee and costs a lot. Not everyone can afford to drink Starbucks everyday.

Another powerful example of a brand that has climbed to the top is Apple. You may or may not have heard of them, JK. If you’ve not heard of them, what kind of a rock do you live under? Granite? Limestone? Diorite?

Honestly, Starbucks and Apple go hand in hand now that I think about it. But let’s dig in.

Apple. They provide status for people even more than Starbucks does. Why? They’re luxury phones that everyone must have. All the celebrities use iPhones. So, how does it make you feel to use the same iPhone your fav celeb does? Probably pretty powerful. You’re also a die hard fan. If you own one of their products, changes are you own more. Or want to own more.

You have an iPhone, iMac, iTunes, iPad, iMug, iBed, I know. I’m joking. Kind of. 

And what would people do if Apple went out of business tomorrow? Hell would break lose. You literally use your Apple products daily. It’s part of who you are. Which means, Apple did a great job building their brand. Let’s look at some stuff.

A picture of Apples Instagram profile

Apple has made their social media all about you. They want you to submit photos to be posted on their profile, using the your iPhone and the hashtag #ShotoniPhone. And as you can see, their profile is, indeed, full of their customers pictures. Guess what this does? It gives people sense of belogning. It makes people feel like they’re part of something bigger.

It can also give them a sense of status. “If my picture gets published by the main dog itself, I have made it.”

What a brilliant idea from Apples part.

Apple knows how to empower their clients, which is one of the reasons why Apple is such a massive business these days. They have climed the ladder, and you can too. There is no excuse.

 

Conclusion

Instead of using a sales funnels, which are not sustainable, you should consider switching to the brand commitment scale. Often people who use sales funnels have such fragile brands that as soon as something goes wrong, there goes their whole business. They’re not antifragile. They’re very fragile.

Whereas, if you do it the right way and use the brand commitment scale, you build a relationship, an authentic one, with your clients and they will come back. Even when times are tough, because your part of their lifestyle. You give them something they cannot go without. You think a little pandemic will but Starbucks or Apple out of business? Nope. Because they know people need them in their lives.

Whereas, if you use a sales funnels… you will most certainly be out of business if a pandemic hits because you offer no emotional good for your clients.

 

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Sales Funnels: They Don’t Work & Why You Should Ditch Them

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The brand strategist who creates brand identity, brand visuals and beautiful websites for sustainable and ethical businesses that want to be the no-brainer option for people. Get to know me better!

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