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3 Core Sales Funnels to Fuel Your Quest for Online Income A reliable sales funnel is the key to a thriving business.

By R.L. Adams Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


One of the most crucial components of any business is the sales funnel. Sales funnels are simply automated selling machines. They're used to help autopilot the process of taking someone from a prospect to a buyer. They're integral in allowing you to make money online, even while you sleep.

Sounds simple and straightforward right? Well, it's anything but that. Sales funnels are complex and intricate systems. Working silently in the background. Firing rules. Implementing tags. Calculating clicks and actions and email opens. Segmenting lists. Delivering offers. Processing payments. Clearly, it's not just what the naked eye can see. There's a slew of automation being done.

To that end, there's probably one person in this world that understands these virtual machines more than anyone else on earth. Russell Brunson. He's the founder of ClickFunnels, a sales funnel software platform with over 50,000 users that has turned into a near-billion dollar business for the Idaho native. I knew that if there was someone who could tell me about sales funnels, it was Brunson.

The best part? Brunson has no investors. There are no venture capitalists calling the shots. The business is entirely self-funded. Created on the back of a massive email list. And it helps to solve a major pain point in the marketplace. The genesis? It used to take Brunson weeks with a team of a dozen people to build a single sales funnel. Now, he can launch that same funnel in a matter of hours using his own software.

But, it's not just Brunson that's having success with the system. It's also many others. There are hundreds of what Brunson has coined two-comma-club members. These are people who have made at least a million dollars or more with a single sales funnel. In fact, they're adding approximately one new two-comma-club member per day.

Related: The 15 Characteristics of People Who Succeed at Sales

If that doesn't open your eyes to the extensive and limitless potential available to earn money online, then nothing will. The best part? You get to model what's working. And you can do it as a digital nomad or working in your pajamas at home. Sure, you'll need some advanced knowledge of what's working and what's not. You'll also need to understand the mechanics of the entire eco-system, from copywriting to ads and conversion optimizations.

After that, you just model success. But, before you get there, you have to pick the type of sales funnel that you want to run first. For Brunson, and for most of the two-comma-club members, there are three types of funnels that are driving the majority of sales. For Brunson, the following three core sales funnels account for roughly 98 percent of all their revenue.

If you model one of these sales funnels, and you do it effectively, you can truly make strides in your ability to generate some serious income online. It might take some trial-and-error. It might involve a few failures. And it might invoke weeks or months of depressions. But, just imagine what it would feel like to have just one of these funnels actually working. That's all it takes. Just one funnel.

Related: 7 Key Selling Habits All Sales Professionals Must Develop

1. Tripwire Funnels

The term tripwire refers to an offer that's too good to pass up. Brunson originally attributed this term to Perry Belcher, one of his early mentors. Free-plus-shipping offers tend to be categorized as tripwires. They lead into something bigger. But, getting people to say yes to that first offer is important. It's a micro-commitment. Something that influences the psychology and buying patterns of consumers, allowing them to pay or buy more.

Think about it yourself. Haven't you ever spent a small sum of money with some company or person, then instantly wanted to spend more with them? You desire to climb what's called their value ladder. When you receive value at the bottom, you naturally want to ascend higher. And it's far easier to get a current customer to pay you more than it is to get a brand new customer. That's why you have to make the barrier of entry incredibly small.

Something that Brunson often says is that "amateurs focus on the front end." He heard that at a seminar he once attended and it really got him thinking about how he could maximize the cart value and the lifetime value of his customers through the use of effective sales funnels.

The tripwire is one such way he's done that. In your own business, imagine how you could implement a tripwire. Could you do a small pamphlet that you could print out and send? How about an entire book? Could you do something that complements a bigger offering?

Brunson tells the story of a company that designs custom suits wanting to create a tripwire. They thought about it and they figured out that people who wear expensive suits often have cufflinks. So why not offer cufflinks as a free-plus-shipping offer, then upsell the custom suits.

Once they take the free-plus-shipping offer, simply offer a one-click up-sell. If they don't take the up-sell, offer a payment plan as a down-sell. Afterwards, lead into the higher-ticket items in the funnel through email sequences. Can you see how this can maximize income and profits?

What can you sell as a tripwire?

  • Software or membership trials for $1 to $7 for a limited time
  • Physical books as free-plus-shipping offers
  • Other low-cost items that you can source on AliExpress.com or other websites
  • Smaller version of a core product offering (i.e. 100 business cards for $7.
  • Physical checklists or cheat sheets
  • Small workbooks or journals

Related: AI Is Taking the Art Out of Sales

2. Webinar Funnels

Webinar funnels, or the Perfect Webinar funnel, to be more precise, is a proven system for selling higher-ticket items to people online. We're talking from $1,000 to $3,000. Brunson's Perfect Webinar comes largely from Jason Fladlien, who has made well over $100 million selling other people's products through this exact process.

If you think that you can't sell high-ticket items in a webinar setting, you'd be wrong. In fact, this is so systemized that you can even download software called Funnel Scripts to plug in the answers to some questions and allow you generate all the copy for a webinar.

Here's what needs to happen for you to succeed with a perfect webinar script launch. It isn't rocket science. But, it does require a number of moving parts and pieces that need to fire and work together in synchrony. Often, if you miss one element here, the entire thing falls apart. Believe me, I'm talking from experience.

  • Focus on one thing: What's the one thing that people are going to learn from the webinar? Make this the result and create your headline around it. Use the how-to-do-without template. For example, "How to Make Money Online Without Quitting Your Day Job" or "How to Lose Weight Without Giving Up Your Favorite Foods." And so on.
  • Offer them a bribe to stay: What's one thing you can offer them to stay until the end?
  • Cancel distractions: Make them turn off or sign out of everything else and pay careful attention.
  • Use the power of stories: Sales become effortless when fueled by the vehicle of powerful stories. Weave them in and integrate them into your webinar.
  • Share your credentials: Why should people listen to you? How are you an expert in the are? What are your credentials?
  • Use future pacing: Have the attendees imagine what their lives would be like if they were to achieve and accomplish whatever it is that you're offering.
  • Share three secrets: Use three secrets to move them through the webinar's content.
  • Use a stack to close: The stack is one of the most crucial parts of the closing sequence because people will only remember the last item that you offered them. So you have to stack the benefits plus any bonuses that they're getting.
  • Have clear calls-to-action: You should always have clear calls to action throughout your webinar.
  • Create a sense of urgency: Use countdown timers and other tools to create more urgency in your sales process. Shut down the offer when the timer reaches zero.

Related: 7 Tips for Getting More Sales Meetings With Prospects

    3. High-Ticket Funnel

    Most people don't realize this, but you can make a tremendous amount of money online by using a very simple, two-step funnel called the high-ticket application funnel. Here's how it works. Simply setup a funnel to capture a lead that then sends them to an application where they have to apply to work with you. That leads them into a phone call.

    The truth? You can't automate really high-ticket sales. We're talking over $3,000. There usually needs to be more than a few touch points. People who are spending $10,000, $25,000 or even $100,000 or more on things like high-ticket coaching or masterminds want to usually talk to someone first.

    As long as you play your cards right and you have a great intro video that focuses more on testimonials than on you pitching your high-ticket items, the applications will flood in. Plus, you can use Facebook Ads to generate massive amounts of leads almost instantaneously.

    You have to ask them a series of questions in the application. Make them convince you. Why should you work with them? Have them give you enough information that you can also vet them and their business. Then, give them homework and pick up the phone and call them or have someone else call them and close the sale.

    Related: 11 Ways to Boost Your Sales Performance

    R.L. Adams

    Entrepreneur, software engineer, author, blogger and founder of WanderlustWorker.com

    Robert Adams is a writer, blogger, serial entrepreneur, software engineer and best-selling author of dozens of technology, SEO, online marketing and self-development books, audiobooks and courses.

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