Top 7 Key Ingredients to Create a Sales Funnel for Your Agency [+Free Template]
(Updated and rewritten for 2023 )
In 2010 we started as a web agency, and today, many of our clients for AutoGrow are agencies.
But even if you are a SaaS, Coach, eCommerce, or Professional Service business, you’re going to learn some powerful tactics below that’ll help accelerate your growth.
In fact, looking at how businesses (agencies in this case) in different niches from your own are succeeding, is one of the best growth hacks. Why? Because too many people assume “Oh that’s not like my business so that won’t work…”
I “lol” at that as a marketer and entrepreneur with millions in sales experience.
Not in an arrogant way (I’ve got plenty of scar tissue of knowing what doesn’t work which ultimately taught me what does), but I chuckle because the logic is silly…
People are people when it comes to the principles of business, selling, and marketing.
So anyway. Over time, when agencies have come to us, and having reviewed and studied 1,000’s of sales funnels, I’ve found there are key reasons (repeated patterns) holding back their sales.
And once the issues are realized, then, through a series of meaningful changes—sometimes large, sometimes simple—they are able to unlock 6 and 7-figure growth.
I get how that sounds if your business isn’t yet at that level. But for someone who’s been where you are, trust me, it’s possible. You’re probably only 2 good decisions away from our next growth goal. And 1 of those decisions is to decide to create your sales funnel (or fix what is broken in your current one)
So today, I’m sharing some of these success patterns and insights with you. To the untrained eye, some of these funnel ingredients will appear obvious. But that’s on the surface because the conversion / selling power is in how you implement each.
If you think about these insightful details and take action, you’re likely to get a positive result. If you don’t, and write it off, you won’t.
- First, we’re going over how to create your own winning agency sales funnel—and the baked-in tactics that’ll get you results. (Imagine: not having to hustle via networking and referrals anymore).
- We’ll cover the key ingredients that, regardless of your target market, will make your agency sales funnel convert.
- Plus I’m giving you a free download, our proven-to-convert agency sales funnel template so you can clone it and start scaling your business.
Let’s get into it.
Most agencies are doing too much.
The cause of low leads, difficulty scaling, and little to no profit is often because agency owners get trapped in these vicious feast / famine cycles.
- New client projects this month! - “YAY I’m amazing, we’ll make $1 billion by next year.”
- Then, no new clients next month - “OMG we’re sinking, the world is on fire, is that an asteroid?…”
As a result, agency owners often feel forced to offer more and more services to existing, and then new clients.
And pretty soon, they do everything.
Which really means, their agency does nothing well. Fact.
And when it comes to sales? Often the founders / agency owners are just running around. They are drumming up leads, taking on every project opportunity that comes their way.
And the issues compound. Because instead of (re)building a sales funnel—whose whole purpose is to create a “glide path” focused on selling only one or a very limited set of services—agency owners often set themselves on a glide path to chaos and little to no profit…
With that established, now let’s answer this question:
Why Does Your Digital Marketing Agency Need a Sales Funnel Anyway?
“Isn’t this just my website?” some might wonder.
No, your funnel is an integrated marketing strategy, a series of steps (composed of emails, landing pages, etc.) that create a “glide path” for prospective clients to move down. And at the end of that path is a sales decision.
And the ideal for when they get to that point of “sales decision”:
- They know everything they need to decide with comfort and confidence. They are fully educated on your offering, and therefore they are pre-sold. And your consultation is more about answering final questions and taking their order.
That’s your ideal, and that’s what a sales funnel will do for your agency.
Key Ingredients Your Agency Sales Funnel Must Have
In your “funnel recipe”, the order matters.
It matters a lot, so remember this point.
Check out this “funnel recipe” (below) with the following agency sales funnel diagram.
You might be savvy about a number of these tactics already:
“Oh, email follow-up, automations, yeah yeah, I know all that.”
But hold on…
If you knew it so well, you wouldn’t be reading this article and instead you’d be buried with client leads beating down your door screaming “PLEASE TAKE MY MONEY!”
So let’s go through this step by step, and if you’re more savvy on these “obvious” tactics, think critically about why they aren’t yet working for you …
(Usually the problem is a lack of action, other times, it’s a lack of quality of implementation or lack of perceived value / trust / uniqueness by the client. And additional note: for many of you reading this, this 1 sentence would transform your entire business if you took it to ❤️ )
Key Ingredient #1 for Your Agency Sales Funnel: Lead Magnet Landing Page
If there’s one thing your funnel will not work without, it is a lead magnet.
Someone in the back yells out: “I’ve got one Matt, it’s not working!”
Most people don’t care about your lame “free consultation” or (slightly better) ebook.
Not trying to be negative here but you’re reading this because you want help, not feel-good tips that don’t get you results.
So the truth might be that you have a lead magnet, but it sucks (sorry). And that’s not according to me, but according to your target clients who either:
- (a) Aren’t opting in to get it because it has too little perceived value or…
- (b) They are opting in but then the quality is bad (i.e. poor writing, typos, something else is broken which ends up being a big red sign to clients saying “DON’T want to pay our services and never hear from us or trust us again? WELL, go right this way sir / madame ♂️♂️♂️”)
- (c) People are opting into it, the quality is ok, good, maybe great—but then, something else is the issue. Maybe it’s a great lead magnet! But a bad one, strategically, for selling what you want to sell. Quick story: we had one client in the past, a coaching service. His lead converted with Facebook Ads like crazy. We’re talking 93% conversion rate. We were proud of that. But the problem was, we got him this result. But then he didn’t want to change it or change his offering at all to align the people who were converting on this lead magnet. Needless to say, his funnel never worked. Everything has to “line up” (i.e. Law of Alignment, see our 11 Laws of Sales Funnel Physics article).
But with that said, let’s back up a bit and define: what is a lead magnet?
A lead magnet is a marketing asset you create and if it works, it brings you leads.
Depending on whether it’s a “bottom” of the funnel lead magnet or a “top of the funnel” lead magnet or somewhere in between, the leads will need more or less nurturing before they will want to buy.
But all you need is just one great lead magnet to get you started.
You can simply fill your pipeline with one solid (effective) lead magnet—with potential clients who are ready to buy your services.
But in order for your lead magnet to convert, other than needing a solid offer (which aligns both with what potential clients want AND can be naturally transitioned into a pitch for your services, as discussed above) you have to get people to actually download it first.
That’s the purpose of your lead magnet landing page.
And it’s really simple, but difficult to learn—even if you’re experienced.
1. Person opts in to get free thing
2. Person receives free thing, they consume it, they like it
3. Person has goodwill towards you / your brand and so, person is open to doing business with you (and a next-step conversion happens from opt-in lead to actual lead)
It’s that simple—very easy to overlook and get wrong, though.
Here’s an example of one of our lead magnets which you might like and get value from, by the way.
If you don’t have time or don’t know how to create a quality lead magnet + landing page from scratch, you can delegate that project (and more) to AutoGrow via our web app.
Alright, now that you know what the first ingredient of our agency sales funnel is, then let’s move to the second one.
We’ve already touched on it a bit but now we’re going to elaborate a bit on strategy for selecting an effective, lead-getting lead magnet.
Key Ingredient #2 for Your Agency Sales Funnel: Lead Magnet
First was the landing page, now this is the actual “thing” (PDF, video, pack-of-something-valuable, etc.)
According to MarTech, the average B2B buyer (aka your audience) consumes, on average, 13 pieces of content along their purchasing journey.
Your lead magnet is likely the important piece of content in that journey—and we’re talking about a lead magnet that brings potential buyers fast.
That means it's probably something closely aligned with what you’re selling, but also, it shouldn’t feel like a pitch.
The “deliverable thing” should be and feel valuable by itself. That’s key for it to work.
And other than that, your homework right now is to go back and re-read the 3 steps in the previous section starting with “Person opts in to get free thing”.
Once again if you need help getting this brainstormed, executed, and done, AutoGrow can help you.
Now for the next ingredient...
Key Ingredient #3 for Your Agency Sales Funnel: Thank You/Congrats Page
Like in any coaching sales funnel, eCommerce sales funnel, SaaS sales funnel, or any other sales funnel—right after your prospective client takes action on something, you want to acknowledge whatever that action is and thank them for it.
Affirm their decision. Afterall, they trusted you at least 10% to make it, so confirm you received their request and what happens next to assure them.
In a study by Adobe, 79% of consumers want you to show that you care about them before even making a purchasing decision.
Here’s how this looked in our funnel in the past (see statement at top of page in screenshot).
Again, this is where leads are redirected to after submitting the opt-in form.
So right after they download your lead magnet, you’re going to thank them or congratulate them on that action they just took in your funnel (another example below)—and then…
You’re going to transition to start educating them about your core service offering.
If you need help with refining your offering, let me know and I’ll create a guide for you all about that another day. For now, it’s beyond the scope of this article (but it’s also really important to get right).
“Matt, isn’t it too soon to sell? Won’t we upset people?”
No, you probably will not and if you believe in the value of what you are offering, if you have conviction that what you are selling is truly valuable, you must do everything in your power to sell it.
Of course though, we want to be “cool” in how we do this though.
“BUY NOW! BUY NOW! LAST CHANCE!”
None of that.
Rather, if you were smart with choosing an effective lead magnet that is aligned with your core service offering, the copy on this thank you page will naturally flow and transition into a “soft” by clear call to action for people to go learn more about your service.
And to clarify one point: this can be a simple “bridge page” with only a little bit of copy.
OR, you can simply place the transition / acknowledgment statement at the top and then paste your sales page copy / design right below and, BOOM!
One less click for the prospective client to make.
Key Ingredient #4 for Your Agency Sales Funnel: Sales Landing Page
This ingredient is straightforward, no defining needed.
In the past, I’ve shared with you our proven sales page checklist.
Some of the key items that people leave out are:
1. Stating your Unique Selling Proposition (what is the value you provide, why should they care)
2. Stating and elaborating in relatable detail what the problem is that you solve (a lot of businesses don’t do this).
3. Stating the top 3-5 benefits (many businesses, and agency websites, don’t do this or don’t do it well either).
Of course you want to sprinkle in social proof throughout your sales page.
And you’ll also share your FAQs where you’ll address the most common questions you get from leads and clients.
Also, a shiny, high-contrasting CTA button (with thoughtful copy) to encourage the prospect to click.
A professional, polished design with a coherent color scheme will also go a long way to getting you fast results too. Many agencies task us with this type of marketing project.
Key Ingredient #5 for Your Agency Sales Funnel: Email Follow-Up Sequence
Lead magnet landing page—check .
Lead magnet—check .
Thank you page—check .
Sales page—check .
It’s now time for your email sequence follow-up.
This is what will nurture your prospects from “opt-in lead” and warm them up to be “hot leads” who are informed and ready to buy your services.
If you’re not investing much in email, you need to prioritize doing it.
81% of small to medium businesses use email as their primary method for customer acquisition according to Emarys.
And it all comes down to returns.
The Data & Marketing Association found that the return on investment for strategic email marketing can be as high as 42:1.
Put another way, every $1 invested in email marketing can yield $42 in returns.
Email marketing is an “owned” marketing channel (more-or-less because you own the list and the relationship with that list).
And I’ve written in the past about how to create an effective email sequence.
Here’s a brief outline of what you should include though, space each email 1-2 days apart.
V – Value (give your readers value, i.e. the lead magnet and show them how to get a result with it. Or follow up to make sure they got access so that they actually receive said value. 50-80% of most lead magnet opt-ins never result in the actual lead magnet getting accessed—and that gap is your opportunity).
A – Authority (show why your subscribers should listen to you).
C – Case Study, Story, and Soft-Sell Call-to-Action (get your readers to act on your offer)
U – Unique (show your subscribers why you stand out from the other guys).
U – Urgency (tell your readers why they should act now)
M – Make a Decision! (give a final hard push for the sale)
Again, your email follow-up sequence will:
- Nurture your relationship with an existing email subscriber.
- Educate a potential client on the benefits of your service (or about the problem you help them solve).
- Nudge them to make a purchase decision.
With email marketing automation tools like ActiveCampaign, you can even tag contacts based on actions they take (or don’t take) on your website.
And even if you’re sold on email marketing, you might find it valuable to know some of the following…
OptinMonster actually found that email has significantly higher engagement than social media.
Nearly 6.5X higher engagement, actually.
And if you personalize the emails you send to your prospects, the results will be even better.
Personalization could be as simple as including a prospect’s name in an email, but that’s just scratching the surface…
It leads to open and click rates and that means more potential client leads requesting / booking meetings with you.
Key Ingredient #6 for Your Agency Sales Funnel: Exit Pop-Up
Many, if not most client leads, will not be ready to book a call (or even warmed up / educated on your offering enough for it to be worth your time if they did).
And this means many leads will leave your lead magnet landing page without opting in to get your lead magnet and/or they’ll leave your sales page, which, for some, may be their first point of contact.
This is where an exit pop-up can be beneficial.
It reacts in real time to a lead who’s about to leave the page, and it appears at that key moment.
In the screenshot above you can see an example of one of our pop-ups.
I’m actually going to edit it soon because it’s better to introduce the offer and you want to start with something more relevant like:
“Hey, before you go, here’s something you might want first…”
In all likelihood, you’ve probably lost 10s, 100s, or even 1,000s of leads just because your funnel wasn’t set up to try one more time to convert them to that next step in your funnel.
As Invesp research found, 6 out of 10 customers say “no” before saying “yes”.
And by showing this offer (once more or for the first time), you can turn around leads that otherwise would have been lost forever.
Key Ingredient #7 for Your Agency Sales Funnel: Booking Form + Checkout Page
First, the Booking form.
Don’t obsess so much about which particular tool. You can use Wufoo or Cognito forms, and either one will work more than fine.
Calendly works as well, but I’ve found the conversion rate is low on it (too much friction committing to a specific date or time).
I’m a fan of how Chili does their booking forms (first capture the info, then present the calendar).
The key is: make it simple for leads to request to book with you:
- Details of what they’re looking for
- Phone (optional)
- Employees / Budget (optional or use other field so long as it give you useful information)
Start there and add or subtract fields depending on the quality of the leads you get. More friction can = better quality leads…
Now for the checkout page…
“A checkout page? For an Agency?”
Yes, I recommend it, but allow me to clarify.
When you’re on the phone with leads, you want it to be easy as a pie to take their order.
So this checkout page could be something you simply have bookmarked and you have it in front of you while on the phone, Zoom, or in person.
Your close rate will literally rise just by having this in front of you because it actually helps YOU to think past the sale. And that’s healthy selling psychology 101.
On the other hand, depending on your price points, especially if they are under $1,000 and/or if you have productized your service, then maintaining links on your sales page (or pricing page coming next after your sales page if appropriate) is a smart idea.
It makes it easy for clients to buy on the spot. Many, depending on price, may not need a phone call.
And by reducing buying friction, you’ll raise your lead-to-close (sales conversion) rate.
Conclusion: Your Digital Marketing Agency Sales Funnel Doesn’t End Here…
This template is meant to help you get started.
You can download and print your own copy for reference by opting in via the yellow box above.
But the insights and tactics I’ve given here won’t matter if you don’t take action.
To review, here are the key ingredients you need to put in place for your funnel:
1. Lead magnet landing page
2. Lead magnet
3. Thank You or congrats page
4. Sales page
5. Exit-intent pop-up
6. Email follow-up sequence
7. Checkout page
This is your baseline funnel for success (and yes, you can include your portfolio and about page separately, but this can also be folded into your sales page too).
It’s not fancy, but it works to get qualified clients on the phone with you.
Remember: clear copy, human tone, + relevant value-focused offering that addresses a specific and stated problem = results.
Tell me, what new did you learn from this guide?
How will you tailor your agency sales funnel template to tailor it to your business?
Let me know in the comments below.
Keep AutoGrowin’, stay focused.