WOW! Are we in for a treat. When I saw that Chris at The Traffic Blogger had written in a guest post on Problogger about how to sell a Web site that he had sold a site for $50,000 that was making a consistent $4,000 a month, I asked him to share with us how he did it. This guest post is his reply.
One of the first questions asked of me was from Gail of GrowMap, (paraphrasing):
“I would love you to share with my readers (AND ME!) how your site was earning a consistent $4,000 and was worth $50,000?”
Thank you Gail for the great question. Now that I’m finished transitioning control of the site, I finally have time to respond with more than the following two words:
So what is this mystical “sales funnel” that we hear so much about? What are these “lists” that people claim are the secret to making money online? Contrary to popular belief, understanding and implementing these concepts is not difficult. The real challenge is applying them in such a way that you both maintain and grow your audience.
To understand a sales funnel,
you need to look at its simplest form:
When two good friends get together and one friend notices the other has something they want, then there is an opportunity for a referral. “You can get this video game at Gamestop for $59. I bought it yesterday and it’s a blast. Go get it so that we can play co-op together over x-box live.”
The process of a friend referring another is the simplest form of a sales funnel. Like most things in life, the simplest method is the best and most effective method.
So why was this friend able to make the referral in the first place? There were three things present that made the referral possible: trust, need, and social proof.
Three Requirements for Referrals:
Trust, Need and Social Proof.
From a series of life experiences, the two friends trusted each other deeply.
Referring someone without first establishing trust
is like trying to get politicians from opposing political
parties to fix our economic recession –
In the case of our example, a single recommendation was enough to convince one of the friends to go buy the game without even reading its description. Now that’s trust!
Every aspect of your business should be focused on
building trust and convincing others that you are a
genuinely honest, respectable person.
Never miss an opportunity in private or public conversation to show that you are trustworthy to a fault. The act of following up on promises and making yourself available for others is a lifelong habbit that we could all use more practice at consistently applying. These traits also make you likeable, trustworthy, and attractive to others.
THERE MUST BE A NEED
The need of the one friend to have fun playing a video game was present before the referral was even made. All it took was a little encouragement from one trusted source and the purchase was complete.
If your referral targets a non-need then the odds of completing the sale are close to zero. Let’s say the referral was for hockey skates and the target of this referral had no intention of ever playing hockey. That’s a pretty long shot for any purchase to be made and the referring party would surely get some strange looks from the potential buyer.
Part of your job as the developer of sales funnels is to attract the right people to the right referrals.
Social proof is the most vital aspect of your business.
Without it, you’re basically hoping that your audience trusts
you enough to rely soley on your word to make a purchase.
Even though our friend in the example purchased the game without even reading the cover, he had already seen commercials advertising how great the game was as well as heard about thousands of people who had already purchased it.
[Note from Gail @GrowMap: And THIS is why we must support small businesses that can't afford high dollar advertising.]
The best way to provide social proof is to
publicly record and spread statistics about
your referred products in each sales funnel.
Whenever I refer a product in my own funnels, I try my best to lead up to it with lots of numbers that prove the value of whatever it is I’m selling. A combination of these numbers and my own personal success with a product are usually a surefire way to sell anything.
How you go about accomplishing trust, need, and social proof are up to you, but I’ll now explain how I managed to establish them in order to sell my website for $50,000.
BUILDING a List of TRUSTING LEADS
Lists are essential to having a real online business. Without a list of past and potential customers (usually you track their email and preferred username), you’re basically starting over with each referral you create.
Through powerful online tools you can
automate your list building and sales funnel.
For my own site, I both used and recommend Aweber for developing both a list and sales funnel in a singular tool. I’ll now go through the steps I took, in general terms, to capture leads, establish trust, display social proof, and make the referrals again and again.
USE AN AUTORESPONDER SERIES
Using Aweber’s inline and outline forms, I was able to introduce potential customers to my sales funnel. These forms enticed subscribers with the right needs by offering a free, seven day email series that focused on providing solutions to these needs.
By offering a series of emails instead
of a single, downloadable report I was able to
ensure that most subscribers remained
members for at least seven days.
This method is the best way I’ve found to keep people on your list longer, because it eliminates the common practice of signing up, downloading the freebie, and then unsubscribing from the list which a lot of people do now-a-days.
The seven day series helped me to establish trust
and credibility with the new member of my sales funnel.
Aweber’s follow up series (what I use to present the seven emails and many more automatically to new followers), gave me a method for making sure that every member of my sales funnel went through the same emails.
Through reporting tools I was able to refine the sales funnel and improve upon the emails based on when people clicked on my suggested links or even unsubscribed from the autoresponder.
PERSONAL CONNECTION BEYOND AUTOMATION
Besides the seven day series, I also asked after a few days how the subscriber was doing, what questions they had, and if they had any suggestions or requests.
This single followup email has provided me with
an endless supply of ideas for writing, improving,
and interacting with my audience.
It also helped to establish a connection with
each member, even if they didn’t respond.
You see, even though my autoresponder was automatic, when a list member did decide to email me I was able to have a personal conversation with them that went beyond the automation.
Due to this effort on my part, I created a very personal and real experience for the subscriber: in their mind every automated email was a one on one conversation.
This, combined with valuable content, created an excellent level of trust between myself and the list member.
MAKING THE SALE
When it came time to refer a product, I simply released an email to my list that showcased social proof and many purchased within an hour of reading it.
This social proof contained numbers; both from myself and others who had used the product. More often than not, this was enough to make a large majority of my sales.
A responsive, trustworthy list combined with
a tried and true sales funnel was one of the primary
reasons that I could sell my site for $50,000.
SALES FUNNEL PROCESS:
This sales funnel could be broken down into the following steps:
- Attract leads with free offers.
- Collect leads with Aweber sign up forms.
- Provide content, develop trust, and ask for feedback with followup series.
- Display social proof.
- Make the referral.
One final word on selling your website: your affiliates have the greatest potential to buy your site and that’s exactly who purchased mine.
They are already making sales with your products and know firsthand how effective your sales funnel is if you have ever sold their products in the past.
Make connections and network like crazy,
regardless of your niche.
Good luck! If you want to see a full report on how I sold my website, please download it here (I do not require you to sign up for this, I’m giving it away for completely free!).