It all starts with a plan.

Business A Beginner’s Guide to Funnel Optimization

By Clay Min-O’reilly

It all starts with a plan.

So, you’ve started a business, have a viable product, and are ready to start pulling in sales. But where to begin? This question is answered with what is known to be the single most valuable structural asset in any marketplace: the funnel.

The funnel essentially refers to a planned series of actions to help a broader audience of prospects become a smaller group of paid sales. That broad audience is reached at the top of the funnel, and then nurtured over time until the smaller group of paid customers emerges at the end of the funnel. Today, we’ll cover the basics of setting up your funnel and nurturing those prospects until they become revenue. Let’s dive in.

First, you’ll need some graph paper and a few crayons. Any color except red is fine. Red means bad. Start by sketching out a triangle, with one point directed straight down. Draw 3 horizontal lines in it. Then, turn it upside down. This is your basic funnel. Now, in the smallest section near the point, write in “grain.” This is your basic first step towards driving sales. Grains can be anything from rice, to quinoa, or even something crazier like farro. It can never be pasta, though. During this step, it is especially important to loop in the CFO because they usually have the best crayons.

In the second section of your funnel, write in your favorite animal. Some common answers include lizard, horse, iguana, or a different horse. Then, consider: how does this animal sell to prospects? Lizards are notorious cold-callers, so try that. Some lizards can grow limbs back if they get cut off. That means it’s okay to fire employees if you are in a bad mood. For this step, definitely don’t include the CFO because they’ll say either “bull” or “bear” and those animals are too scary.

In the third section of the funnel: client engagement. By now, the prospects are practically begging to purchase your product. The intuitive response would be to sell them the product, but famed business guru Jack Welch says otherwise: “Don’t ever sell the prospect your product. If you convert every prospect into a customer, your prospect pipeline will have run completely dry and you will have failed as a businessman. I have 7 children and only know 3 of their names.”

Once you have successfully cultivated interest, it is time to wash your funnel. Funnels have a tendency to accrue grit over time. One rookie mistake is cleaning all the grit out of your funnel. Any seasoned veterans of the budding tech market know that there are two types of grit: good grit and bad grit. Good grit refers to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated grits, which typically come from plants and fish. Leave that grit in.

Congratulations, now you have an optimized funnel! Kick back, eat a cigar, and tell your interns that they can leave early because they are fired.