What To Do When Your Sales Funnel Fails

by Jeremy Reeves

Last updated on July 25th, 2017

These days it’s hard going even a single day without hearing something about sales funnels. For the past year or so they’ve been a huge buzzword in the online marketing space, and for good reason!

They work.

Except… when they don’t.

Many people understand the value of funnels and why they should work, but still struggle putting together a funnel that actually maximizes their conversions.

Today we’re going to fix that.

Over the past several years I’ve generated about $50 million in revenue from sales funnels in more industries you could imagine, in companies ranging from startups to multiple 8-figure companies. It’s given me a unique insight into what works and what doesn’t for building an automated, profitable sales funnel.

That’s why we’re going to cover the top 5 reasons most funnels fail to convert, how to avoid the most disastrous mistakes, and what to do instead!

These strategies can be applied in ANY industry, whether you run a SaaS business, info product business, service business, or sell physical products.

Let’s start with…

1. A Lack Of Market Empathy

If you want to sell more, you need to show more empathy for your audience.

You first need to understand your market better than anyone else, and then be able to engage with them on an emotional level (i.e. empathy) to sell them a solution to the problems they’re facing.

I’ve found an approach that allows you to slip into the mind of your prospects in just an hour or two, and then use their exact words to use in your copy throughout your marketing to display empathy and understanding – which leads to higher conversions.

The more closely you can craft your message to the frustrations already rumbling through your prospects minds, the higher your conversions will be and the easier your growth will come.

So let me show you how you can do it…

Exploiting Amazon For Fun & Profit

Amazon is an absolute goldmine for uncovering the TRUE emotions of your prospects. And the process is so simple…it’s almost ridiculous.

Step #1: Go to Amazon.com

books at amazon

The first step is going to the actual website. Then, you’ll want to find the search bar and click “books”.

Step #2: Search your industry

the end of diabetes

The next step is searching for books in your industry. If you’re in the alternative health space, search for books about alternative health. If you’re a dating coach, look up books showing guys how to meet and attract girls. If you’re a business coach, look up other business books.

You get the idea.

Step #3: Read the reviews

the end of diabetes review

Finally you’ll want to choose the books with a lot of reviews. As I’m writing this I found the book “The End Of Diabetes” by Joel Fuhrman. It has over 1,000 reviews. That’s a lot!

You’ll want to then click on the reviews and start reading.

Because we’re trying to search for EMOTIONS, you don’t want to read any reviews that are average. You’re wanting to find the extremes, because when people leave extreme reviews (i.e. 1 or 5 star), they tend to not hold back. They’re at a peak emotional state (either positive or negative), and that’s exactly where you’re trying to get your prospects through your sales funnel.

Let’s start with the 5-star reviews…

Title: Thank you for teaching us how to eat for good health!

This is the information I have been looking for, for several years. I’m a type 2 diabetic who is sick and tired of being sick and tired. I know in my heart that there is a way out of diabetes once and for all. I believe Dr. Fuhrman has found that way, his plan makes sense. I‘m looking forward to the day I can quit taking pill after pill. I’m sick of taking medicine. I have better things to do with my money. I hope you will think about reading this book, and giving it a chance, you have nothing to lose, but your bad health. I’m 63 years old, a retired nurse. I know the diet the medical doctors push, I also know it doesn’t work. They only expect that you will get sicker, and need more medicine, or go on insulin to live. No thanks, I have not had a heart attack, and don’t plan on it. If eating a plant based diet means that I’m healthy for the rest of my life, sign me up! Thank you Dr. Fuhrman, I’m so glad I found you, at last I have hope!

Can you see the pure, raw emotion pouring out?

This lady is frustrated beyond belief and finally found something that has cured her once and for all. ALL of those bolded points are frustrations that can easily be put into your sales funnel. You can use the exact language in your sales page and emails. You can probably create a free report based on “Throwing Away All Your Pills”.

You can easily justify the price of whatever you’re selling by throwing away your pills and not having doctor appointments with co-payments.

Then we look at the negative reviews.

Negative reviews are GREAT for overcoming objections. This is especially important as you’re designing your product or service. For example…

Totally ridiculous and undoable as a lifetime eating plan, nothing but mountains of mostly Raw vegetables. Of course your diabetes would be cured, but you would be shopping, preparing, and planning for meals for an outrageous amount of time every day, not to mention how you would be ready to Kill for a hamburger before long!

See the objections here? Time and hassle. It’s pretty clear that this person wanted to find a solution but isn’t willing to put in the work that’s necessary to get the results (btw, that’s a very common theme in selling anything).

I also read several reviews speaking of “going back to Weight Watchers”. That’s yet another objection you could easily overcome with some strategic thinking of how you deliver the product or service.

Remember, look for the extreme ends of emotion. Emotion is what sells anything. If you can’t tap into the emotions your prospects are feeling, you won’t sell anything.

What you’re looking to do is look for episodes of pure, raw emotion, and then use them throughout your marketing funnel.


You’ll want to use these emotional triggers…

  • In any ads you’re running (FB, AdWords, YouTube, etc.)…
  • Sprinkled throughout your opt-in pages, sales pages, and every page of your website…
  • In each email you’re sending to your prospects…
  • When conducting webinars, podcasts or writing guest articles…
  • When speaking with customers/clients personally (if selling high-ticket items)…

In other words, you should be tapping into your prospects emotions at each individual stage of your sales process!

The more empathy you can demonstrate throughout each stage of marketing, the higher your sales will go.

It’s really as simple as that.

2. Too Much Complexity, Too Early

Regardless of what industry you’re in or what the type of funnel you’re building (i.e. SaaS, info product, service business, physical product, etc.), you need to start off by perfecting your foundation, and only then adding more complexity to your business.

Too much complexity, too early, leads to frustration and lack of results.

That’s why I’ve broken the sales funnel down into 3 simple stages you should be aware of. Just like building a house, you must build these one at a time, and in the correct order.

Let’s start with…

Phase #1: The Foundational Stage

The setup and test stage is when you’re first getting things off the ground. You aren’t looking to 10x your business. Instead you’re looking to simply reclaim some time by automating key marketing processes, increase revenues by having more marketing systems in place, and simply have more consistency and reliability in your cash flow.

This stage is for 1 of 3 types of entrepreneurs…

  • Those just starting out, bootstrapping everything they do…
  • Those who are doing OK (low 6-figures) with inconsistent cash flow
  • Those doing well even without a funnel, but are a little more hesitant about marketing…

In this stage the goal isn’t to maximize your profits. It’s simply to get a foundation in place that can be built upon as you increase your results and have more cash flow to reinvest back into your marketing campaigns. These funnels are simple to build, simple to manage and yield results, but won’t get you maximum results. They’re simply a stepping-stone for the next stage.

So what do you need to setup?

Here’s the list of everything that is included in the setup of your foundational marketing funnel…

  • Your USP – You’ll need to know exactly who it is that you help, what end result you give them, and how you do this in a way that’s unique to you and your company. This needs to be the cornerstone of all of your marketing communication you have throughout your entire funnel.
  • A Lead Magnet – At this point you’ll also need to give your audience something valuable for free to get them to raise their hands and let them know they’re interested in you offering them help to solve their problem. This can be in the form of a free PDF, video, webinar, or even something like a physical book that you give away for free plus shipping. When they opt in, they’ll go onto your email list, which allows you to then follow up with them.
  • A Prospect Email Sequence – Your email sequences are designed to show people that YOU are the person best equipped to help them solve their problem. These emails should be written in a way that’s entertaining, engaging, valuable, and offers a chance to click your various links to find out more about how you can help solve their problem (via your products or services) if they’re interested. For phase #1, I recommend starting with 10 emails that go out over the period of 30 days.
  • At Least One Core Offer And One Upsell Offer – In the first stage, I recommend keeping things simple and having one main offer (whether it’s a product or a service), and one higher-end offer which segments out your hyper buyers and allows them a chance to spend more money with you for a higher level of service. Don’t make it complicated. Keep it simple and spend your time digging deeper into the problems your customers are facing, and unique solutions to fixing those problems (which will turn into more products/services later).
  • A Buyers Sequence – Finally, you’ll want to have a simple buyers email sequence that goes out to your buyers. In the beginning stages, since you don’t have many other products/services to sell, you can keep this simple at 3-5 emails over the first 30 days. What you’re focusing on here is simply making your clients feel appreciated and understood, to increase retention and referral rates.

That’s it! You don’t have to make it any more complicated than that. At this stage in your business, you’re simply getting proof of concept. You don’t want to go and build out a huge $50,000 funnel, just to find out that your product/service aren’t hitting the emotional hot buttons of your market.

Once you’ve nailed it, you can move onto…

Phase #2: The Maximization Stage

The maximization stage is when you maximize the potential of your marketing funnel. It does not mean your funnel will be perfect. That comes next. In this stage, you’ll simply be implementing all various pieces that make up the potential for the perfect funnel.

I “typically” recommend people start on the maximization stage around the $500k mark or so, but once again that varies on several different factors including how you’re currently marketing the business, what industry you’re in, what type of business it is, and many other factors.

The specifics of this stage will vary depending on the type of business you own (i.e. service-based versus product based). However, the following strategies are ones you should consider…

  • Segmentation – In this stage you’ll want to begin segmenting each piece of your funnel. Segmentation can be an entire course on its own. For now, think of how you can segment based on behaviors your audience is taking, interests, etc.
  • Filling In Your Product Suite – In this stage you’ll also want to fill in any gaps in your suite of products or services. In general (yes, there are exceptions) you’ll want something low-end to give people an easy way to get to know you, something mid and high-end to capture those buyers, and continuity.
  • Metrics – You need to know your metrics in this stage, because you’ll be scaling your business in the next stage. At the very minimum, you should know your cost per lead (per channel), cost per customer (per channel), lifetime customer value, and value per visitor.

By the time you’re done with this stage, you’ll have increased your revenue dramatically, with more consistency and more stability because your revenue is coming from more than one source. That’s when it’s time to move on to…

Phase #3: The Perfection Stage

At this point your main marketing funnel is already created and you’ve moved onto the final phase. It “typically” begins around the 7-figure mark. It’s the testing and perfecting stage, and it never ends.

  • Testing – In most cases you’ll want to introduce split-testing, so you can maximize each individual step of your marketing funnel.
  • Scalability – Next you’ll want to make sure your funnel is scalable. In most cases, that means being able to buy paid traffic. Paid traffic is the Holy Grail because once you can spend $1 and make $2, the game is over. If you can spend more than your competitors to acquire a new customer, you win every single time.
  • New Verticals – IF the existing market you’re in is beginning to get tapped out, you can start thinking of replicating your processes and moving into new verticals.

Just remember: Make sure you know what stage you’re in, and finish that stage first BEFORE moving onto the next. Trying to get too complex, too early, leads to frustration, inaction, and lose revenue.

3. Failing To Understand The Buying Cycle

In working with well over 100 clients in 40+ industries, creating over $50M in sales for my clients, I’ve had a lot of people ask me what makes a big difference in how successful a particular funnel is.

One of my answers is always “segmentation”.

I helped one of my clients, Pat, segment his emails and increased his response by 270%. That’s because we talked to people in a different way, based on where they were at in the buying process.

If you look at the buying process of virtually anything, whether it’s a physical product, information product or a service, you’ll find that people fall into one of these 3 levels…

Level 1: Problem Awareness – At this stage, they’re simply becoming aware that they need a problem which needs to be fixed. In the case of buying something for pleasure (for example, I just bought a movie theater system for my garage), the “problem” is the lack of the thing they want. If you’ve ever bought a new car, this is the moment you realize you need a new car.

In this stage you want to offer information resonating with them on the frustration/problem they’re having. You’re simply getting them to raise their hand. Do not try to sell just yet.

Level 2: Evaluation – The next level is spending a little time researching the various options they have. People do research in different ways. Some put together a mental checklist of criteria (this usually happens subconsciously) and begin looking for someone who meets those criteria. In the case of buying a car, you’d start thinking about the options you have based on your budget, needs, style preference, etc.
In this stage you’re introducing your offer and showing them exactly why YOU are the best person to solve the problem they’re having. Comparison charts, and proof work fantastic here.

Level 3: Decision – At this point they’re in decision mode and this is the point where you need to give them a “no-brainer” offer. Make sure you have a fantastic guarantee, an offer they can’t refuse, and results they can’t get anywhere else.

4. Forgetting About Customer Lifetime Value

Most entrepreneurs get really excited at the thought of acquiring new customers. But while new customers are great, existing customers are the real goldmine.

I realize that selling to existing customers SHOULD be obvious. But I can tell you from personal experience that most of my clients (many of which are 7-8 figure businesses) are severely lacking when it comes to maximizing the value of their customers.

To show you exactly why you need to put more emphasis on your customers, let’s look at some quick math.

new customer vs. existing customer

The above example is simplistic. However it also doesn’t account for the fact that you’ll sell MORE products, at HIGHER prices, to existing customers.

But if you look at the above example, you’ll notice that if you sold the exact same product to an existing customer instead of a new customer, you make 2.5x the NET revenue from the same (actually way less) amount of work!

The solution is very simple.

You need to split your marketing funnels and create…

  • New Customer Acquisition Campaigns – These are designed specifically to generate new customers, and profit does not matter. You are going after maximum customers, regardless of profit.
  • Existing Customer Campaigns – These are designed with maximum net revenue in mind. You’ll want to create products/services with high margins because this is where the vast majority of your profit comes from. It’s also wise to shift your focus from email (what everyone else is doing) to offline methods (such as direct mail, or preferably, sales calls).

Understanding this principle is THE fastest way to scale your business. When each new customer you acquire is worth more to you over time, it allows you to increase your allowable cost per new customer acquired.

That way you can outspend your competitors by simple arithmetic!

And finally, our last reason…

5. Thinking “The Money Is In The List”

You’ve probably heard “the money is in the list” dozens and dozens of times. And it sounds correct.

Except it’s not.

The money is NOT in the list.

It’s in your relationship with that list.

There are companies online that allow you to “rent” their list of hundreds of thousands, sometimes even millions of people. On the surface, it sounds great. Yet in all my time online, I’ve only known a small handful of people who’ve been able to make it work.

That’s because list quantity does not equal list revenue.

List QUALITY does.

If you want to improve the results you’re getting from your email marketing campaign, you still need to grow it. That’s obvious. However, you need to spend just as much time cultivating a close relationship with your list as you do with growing it.

Here are a few ways to do that.

  • Be Transparent – Transparency is the new social currency. If you look at the success of anybody who’s shot off like a rocket in social media, you’ll notice that they’re nearly all extremely transparent. They usher you past the velvet ropes and into the dungeons of their lives… good AND bad. They show you their struggles, their triumphs, and their innermost thoughts. Admitting a weakness (also called a “damaging admission” in copywriting) is one of THE fastest ways to gain trust, so do it!

income breakdown

  • Cultivate A Personal Relationship – One of the most powerful email strategies I’ve seen for selling anything higher ticket is asking your email subscribers to reply back to emails. It allows you to take the conversation from broad, to 1-on-1, answering their objections personally and showing you care about them. If you’re not doing this, try it!

Jeremy Reeves

  • Stand For Something – Whatever you believe in, fight for it tooth & nail. Don’t be wishy-washy in what you believe and stand for. In my business, I believe strongly in setting up your business so it gives you balance and freedom. I think people who “work 16 hours a day because their business is their passion” are insane. After all, if you have only one passion in life, that’s a pretty boring life! The point is, standing for something pushes away people who don’t resonate, which therefore attracts those who do resonate that much faster and stronger.

all kids will have shoes

  • Tell Stories – Stories are the ultimate selling tool because they slip under the minds “bullshit” radar and allow you to convey messages you couldn’t otherwise convey if you were to simply “tell” your audience. And they’re amazing for bonding with your audience. I have a list of 20 things about me that I want people to know (for example, I have a son with autism, a wife with Epilepsy, a Dad who died from cancer, I love working out, I love being in nature, I love the Eagles, etc.). Each of these is an emotional trigger, which I use in my marketing stories, which resonates with a percentage of my audience. If each of them resonates with just 5% of my audience, that means I’ve bonded with 100% of my audience.


Your Next Steps

I’ve given you A LOT to think about in this article. I don’t expect you to go and implement new strategies and tactics from each of them. However I do want you to think of ONE thing you can change in the next 30 days that will get you better results than you’re currently getting.

So tell me… what are you going to implement based off what you’ve just read?

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Jeremy Reeves

Jeremy Reeves is a sales funnel specialist. He builds advanced marketing funnels for his own side businesses AND his private clients. He has added over over $40 million in revenue for his in the past few years alone.


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