Optimizing Your Gateway Funnel

Marvin Mitchell, CEO of Compass Retirement Solutions, specializes on providing wealth management services to aging baby-boomers. His main way of bringing in new business was through dinner presentations. And over time, this strategy has worked well for his financial services company.

Recently, my company Maui Mastermind, began working with Marvin and his team.

One of the first areas we chose to tackle was to guide him to create a “gateway funnel”. A gateway funnel has two parts: the “gateway offer” and the “funnel”. Let’s look at each in turn.

First, your gateway offer is the special offer that your sales and marketing team has perfected that has the highest odds of leading a new client into the most profitable pathway with your company. It’s your first sale that has the highest odds of leading to the richest relationship with your new client or customer.

Most businesses let random chance dictate this first sale. That’s sloppy and bad business. Instead, over time by properly strategizing and tracking your clients behavior, determine which offer you can make that will draw a new client onto the richest purchase offer pathway with your company.

In Marvin’s case, his gateway offer is a type of annuity product that fits the needs of a baby-boomer. It provides strong value for his client, and begins a long-term relationship with the client.

What is your company’s current main gateway offer? This is the first sale you hope to make with any new prospective customer that will lead to the highest odds of developing a deeper and more profitable relationship.

Once you’re clear on your gateway offer you need to map out your gateway funnel – the planned path of how you plan to communicate with and nurture your new client so that you increase your odds of progressing this customer relationship.

Ask yourself what is the best pathway for your new customer to take to best serve them and your business? What products or services should you follow up your initial gateway sale with? What conversion steps should you guide them through?

Most businesses have never strategically mapped out this pathway, yet by doing so they gain a simple road map to concentrate their sales and marketing efforts.

Once you’ve mapped out this process, simple track your customers’ conversion at each step in the process. Once you have enough data to spot which one conversion point would yield the highest return for you to improve, focus on optimizing that one conversion point.

This is the key – don’t try to “fix” everything at once. Narrow your focus to one conversion point at a time and then move on to the next conversion point, then the next.

Having coached thousands of businesses through this process, what I’ve come to learn is that this “bite sized” approach to optimizing your funnel is easier to do well and quickly leads to big gains. If you try to tackle the funnel as a whole you’ll quickly get overwhelmed and won’t finish the work of implementing the ideas you’ve come up with to enhance your gateway funnel’s conversion.

In Marvin’s case, by following this simple game plan, he increased his overall funnel conversion by 250 percent with the same marketing time and money spent.

We first focused on increasing the response rate to our marketing to register for the dinner workshops,” Marvin Mitchell shared. “Then we narrowed our focus down to getting more of the prospective clients who signed up to actually attend. Then we moved on to focus on the conversion at the dinner workshop itself. All told we have increased our total funnel conversion by over 250 percent. This disciplined, step-by-step approach has changed our business.

Now it’s your turn. Pick the one conversion point to start with, the one you feel would yield the highest total improvement to your overall funnel’s results.

Brainstorm your ideas to increase conversion. For example, if your conversion process includes setting up an in-person appointment for a team member to visit a business’s office, but your tracking shows that these appointments only get help 28 percent of the time (getting rescheduled again and again or simply cancelled the other 72 percent of the time) you could:

• Change your appointment scripting to build value and commitment for this appointment.

• Reposition the appointment to a complimentary consulting session.

• Charge for this session.

• Send out an appointment memo and series of reminders.

• Send a series of value building emails or direct mail to the person you’re meeting with to increase his or her desire to meet with your team member.

• Etc.

With you list of potential ideas in hand, put each idea through the follow two filters:

A Low-Hanging Fruit is a no-brainer opportunity that you’re almost certain will work. While it may or may not have a big impact, it is fairly straightforward to implement and you have a very high level of confidence that it will work.

A Home Run, on the other hand, is an opportunity that if you hit it well and all goes just right, has a huge payoff for your business.

Go through each brainstormed idea on the list and ask, Is this tactic a Low-Hanging Fruit? If it is, mark it with “LH” for Low-Hanging Fruit.

Then in a second, separate pass, go through your list of brainstormed ideas and ask of each item in turn, “Is this tactic a Home Run?” If it is, mark it with “HR” for Home Run.

What you’re looking for are those tactics that are both Low-Hanging Fruit and Home Runs; these are your Sweet Spot ideas. Think about what this means. Your Sweet Spot ideas are easy to implement with high odds of success (i.e. Low Hanging Fruit), and will have a big impact if they work (i.e. Home Runs).

Now track the performance of your refinements to your gateway funnel. Keep those that work; ditch those ideas that don’t. Then move on to the next conversion point, then the next and the next, in turn, one at a time.

If you enjoyed the ideas I shared, then I encourage you to download a free copy of my newest book, Build a Business, Not a Job. Click here for full details and to get your complimentary copy.

Business David is a Wall Street Journal and Business Week bestselling author of 11 business and financial books. A syndicated columnist for Inc.com and HuffingtonPost.com, David’s articles have appeared in over 6,500 publications. As the founder and CEO of Maui Mastermind®, David has worked with 100,000+ business coaching clients and community members to buy, build, and sell over $5 billion of businesses.