In this podcast:
02:20 – A proven and highly successful selling model
03:10 – The manual for the survey funnel technique
03:36 – 3 important things discussed in the book
07:48 – Be the top player in your industry
08:40 – Setting up a survey funnel
12:07 – An unconventional approach
13:17 – The easiest ways to implement
14:55 – Learn more about how the software works
16:18 – The benefit of survey segmentation
18:11 – Methodology and action steps
23:18 – Quick recap
24:30 – Who will most benefit from the survey funnel?
27:25 – Some action steps
Have James help you double your business HERE
James: James Schramko here, welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. When I was selling, I used to use a formula that was handed down to me from the top salespeople from Xerox. They brought it along to this Telco company that I was working at where I was just an administrator.
And using this formula combined with some old classics like Brian Tracy and Tom Hopkins, I was able to quickly become the number 1 salesperson in Australia for the product that I was selling and then I was able to repeat that when I changed companies.
And the core to this selling technique, which was called SPIN Selling, was this whole idea that you find out where someone is at with their situation, and then you probe and investigate by using questions to find out exactly what their problems and pain points are, and then you magnify those challenges, and then you serve them the exact relevant most logical next step as the forward action.
It turns out that formula worked really well for selling high volume vehicles. But it also forms the basis for a great way to sell online. And today I’ve invited a special guest, Ryan Levesque, to come and talk to us about how we might use questions in our marketing. Welcome Ryan.
Ryan: James my man, I’m super excited to be here and really excited to be talking about this.
James: Now maybe I’ve over-simplified my introduction here. However, you are as far as questions and sales process for funnels, you’re the man! You are like the survey funnel mega expert in the entire world with unbelievable results in your background, right?
Ryan: [laughs] Well I think the official title is Emperor Czar of the World, but I’ll forgive the way you framed it. Seriously I appreciate the warm introduction James; it’s really kind of you. And really, what you’ve described, the selling model that you used so successfully in your offline business really what’s my team and I have done in the last 10 years is we’ve taken that process that’s so natural to sell offline, and we’ve developed a replicable system that we’ve used in over 23 markets to generate over $100 million in sales, and we’ve taken that same process and we’ve applied it online.
I’m really excited and happy to share exactly how we’re doing that so anyone listening to this can start implementing elements of the exact process in their business.
James: Right. So that’s pretty good evidence that it actually works. We’ve pretty much covered why we might be interested in learning about this survey funnel technique. Now you’ve consolidated a lot of these ideas into a book, which is called Ask, with some very long subtitle. Is that right? That’s coming out in the market at the moment.
Ryan: Exactly. So the subtitle for anybody who’s interested is: “The counterintuitive online formula to discover exactly what your customers want to buy, create a mass of raving fans, and take any business to the next level.” And the reason why those 3 things are part of the subtitles is because they’re all important.
3 important elements of the book
The first thing, the elemental fact that it’s counterintuitive is critical. Most people think the answer to asking questions is you simply ask what people want. But there’s a paradox here because people don’t really know what they want.
And if you studied anyone from Henry Ford to Steve Jobs, there’s a quote that may or may not be true, but it’s been attributed to Henry Ford’s, which is, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have told me faster horses.” And if you study Steve Jobs, he has a quote and I’m going to paraphrase him, but it’s to the effect that, “People don’t know what they want until they see it.”
And all of these, the reason why those quotes and those ideas ring true is because they are true. And the counterintuitive part of this is you cannot directly ask someone what they want, you have to ask them a series of questions that get at the answer without directly asking it. And that’s where the nuances of the process begins. So that counterintuitive part, we can dive into that in more details, it’s really important.
The other thing, the second part of that subtitle, create a mass of raving fans, this is the thing that has me so excited. The reason why is because this is one of this rare processes that is both beneficial to the consumer and to you as a merchant.
And the reason why is because if you studied any sort of online marketing or you’ve been a consumer online, and James, you know that what’s typical when you go online, you go to someone’s website and they stand on their tippy toes, scream at the top of their lungs and say, “Here’s why we’re the best and get my free report,” and they try to jam that one thing down your throat, before they’ve even gotten the chance to know you.
And that would be like if someone stepped on the car lot when you’re selling cars, and the first thing that you said to them is, “Hey, I know the exact car for you and here’s why you should buy it.” That would be just so weird. But for some reason, that’s the way most people sell online.
What this whole process is about is saying, “Time out for a second. You know to be perfectly honest, I don’t know if I can help you yet. But if you take a moment to tell me a little bit about your situation, what you’re struggling with, what you’re looking to achieve, with that information, I can point you in the right direction. And If I have a solution that’s right for you, I’ll be able to customize my recommendation based on what I think would be most helpful for you.”
And essentially from a strategic standpoint, that’s what you’re doing. And hopefully it comes across that when you do that, it can engender a tremendous amount of goodwill with your consumer, with your potential customer where they say, “This is refreshing. I’m so used to someone trying to jam their solution down my throat. It’s refreshing for someone to take the time to ask a little bit more about me to provide the best solution.”
And then the third part of the subtitle, take any business to the next level, hopefully it’s evident that when you do this, it can take your business to that next revenue level. And it’s evident by the fact that we are now like, I said, in 23 different markets and in virtually all those markets, we’ve become the number 1 or number 2 player in the space.
And these are markets ranging from golf instruction, tennis instruction, dog training, satellite television, business funding, weight loss, fitness, selling industrial equipment, selling water ionizers, 2,000 water ionizers. So it’s something that has a universal approach, which is why I’m so excited that works no matter what market you might be in and what your business model is. So that sets the stage and I personally think that this is something that has the potential to truly change our industry. That’s why hopefully you can tell I’m so excited about this.
James: Yeah, I can very much relate. It’s pretty much a carbon copy of the process that I’m used to and I was really confounded when I went online at how one way the marketing messages seem to be, people pushing their angles without any interaction. And it’s good to see that this is now becoming possible with technology and I think we’re going to have to spend a little bit of time talking about that for a second.
So just a recap, we’re up to, the reason you want to be looking at doing this is because you can be the top player in your industry. It’s obviously more profitable, it gets the results, and it doesn’t really matter what you’re selling online. In terms of what we’re talking about, we’re talking about putting a step between when someone arrives to you making your offer recommendation where we actually get to find out more specifics so that we can segment, get very relevant, there’s more context.
Basically, you’re shrinking the size of the barrel and you’re increasing the size of the fish so that it’s just a no-brainer. You can literally shoot fish in the barrel because you know that you’re on target. So we really want to sort of get into the next tier, which is how do we actually achieve this? What are some of the parts that are required and how do we actually set these things up?
How to set up a survey funnel
Ryan: That’s a great question. So think about it like this, let’s think about 2 pages on your website and a step in between. So the first page that we want to think about is your landing page. And this is the page that someone will arrive at on your website. It’s the first page that they visit.
Now when someone visits this page, instead of trying to put a squeeze page, which would be: get my free report, enter your name and email; instead of doing that all in one step, what you’re doing is this: you’re effectively saying like for example, “I operate one of the markets that we’re in, it’s the memory improvement space. We have a business that you can check out today. It’s called Rocket Memory. And we have a series of courses that teach people how to improve their memory.”
When someone lands on our landing page, they see a short video. The video is about 2 minutes long and basically says this: “Hi, my name is Ryan and I’ve been helping people improve their memory for the last 10 years. In fact, I’ve helped over 26,000 people around the world. And what I’ve learned is that depending on what situation you’re in right now, it’s going to dictate what the best solution is for you.
And we have a series of courses, and rather than try to guess which course and which training path is right for you, if you take a few moments to tell me a little bit about who you are, what your situation is, I’ll point you in the right direction and make the best product recommendation for you.”
After they watch that video, there’s a button below that video. They click on the button and then a single screen pops up and the screen asks a series of questions, starting with: “Are you a man or a woman?” The reason why I ask this question is because men and women tend to have different issues with memory, and it has to do with the way that our brains are wired differently in terms of gender differences. OK, I’m a man.
Next question, new screen. “Which of the following best describes your age?” And the reason why I ask this is because as we get older, our brains change and it affects our memory in different ways. OK, I’m in my 30s. 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, multiple choice. 30s.
Next question, “Which of the following best describes the situation you’re in right now?” And the answers might be: I’m currently a student; I’m currently going back to school to learn a new trade or skill; I am studying for something in my professional life, or I’m just having trouble remembering in my everyday interactions. OK.
So I’m asking a series of questions then I go down this path and tell at the very end I might say, “OK. Based on everything that you’ve told me, I think that your situation is best described as X. Now I have a custom set of recommendations for your particular situation and all you need to do is enter your name and email, and I’ll send you a customized report along with what I recommend that you start with.”
They enter their name and email in exchange for this customized report. And then on the other side, they see what I describe as a same visit sales message, which oftentimes is a video sales message that attempts to sell them into one of our courses, the one that’s most appropriate to them. And the video sales message is customized in a way that refers to at least a portion of their survey responses.
So I might refer to the fact that as a man in your 30s, you might have found that as you’ve gotten older that your memory isn’t quite what it used to be and this is natural because when men turn 30, something happens in your brain that changes the way you consolidate memory; and then I might go on.
See how this approach, hopefully at a very surface level, is so much more effective than “Discover how to improve your memory, this is the ultimate memory solution for every human being under the sun, buy it now.” What we’re doing is we’re taking a much more unconventional approach and people see this and they say, “This is so refreshing.”
And the beautiful thing is that this concept of the one size fits all answer and why that’s not a good thing is practically universal. Whether you’re selling cars, or you’re selling memory improvement information, it’s something that everybody recognizes because we’re all unique individuals and we all have unique wants, needs and desires.
James: Yeah I think we like to see ourselves reflected back in the marketing message, now we want to relate to it. So I’ve seen this happening for a while.
I can recall even when I started online, some people were doing this, but it was very rare and I think perhaps the thing holding them back was either, the reason not everyone does it, probably a) not everyone knew about it, and b) there were probably some technological challenges for setting this sort of thing up. Have you found some easier solutions to make this achievable for the everyman Internet marketer, every woman?
Easier solutions for Internet marketers
Ryan: That’s a great question. So when we first started doing this, and by the way, the way I came into this was out of necessity. My first few attempts online in the market today was in I actually failed. And it was until I asked the question of my market, I sent out a survey and I said out of desperation in one of my first markets, “Tell me, why did you decide not to buy?” And when I got the responses back, it was very interesting.
I was in a random obscure market teaching people how to make Scrabble tile jewelry. It was a crave that was happening in about 2008. And what I found was that I thought I was selling to one single homogenous market, but when I asked that question, what surfaced was that there were actually 4 distinct buckets in the market.
Now my first rudimentary attempts of doing this segmentation process were really as simple as: enter your name, email, and select from the following dropdown list which of the following best describes you. And then with a little bit of custom code, we’d send people to 1 of 4 sales letters, and then add people to 1 of 4 autoresponder sequences. That was the first rudimentary attempt.
As we became more and more sophisticated doing this and market after market, we try to find some solution, some paid software solution in the market to allow us to do what we wanted to do and there was nothing there. So my team and I invested a tremendous amount of money, developed our own software solution, and this is actually what we use in market after market.
Learn more about the software
And about a year and a half ago, we decided to make this solution available to the public as a retail piece of software. You can go to surveyfunnelsoftware.com and that will direct you to the page where you can learn more about how the software works and how you can use it to implement exactly what we describe and you can see it in action.
So there are multiple ways to accomplish this. You can obviously hire a developer, you can develop your own tool, or you can use the tool for example that we use, which is an out-of-the box software solution that enables you to do this with just a few clicks of the mouse.
And it’s a tool by the way, there’s a couple of things; it allows you to do the survey segmentation thing that we’ve been talking about, but it also integrates with your autoresponder program. And this is where things really get exciting. So when you have a tool like the one I described, it allows you to funnel people into different autoresponder sequences based on how they answer a series of questions.
And not only that, it allows you to push that data into their contact record, into: if you’re using Ontraport, InfusionSoft, Aweber, Constant Contact, MailChimp, it does not matter what autoresponder program you use, our software is agnostic, meaning it works with any of them.
The benefit of survey segmentation
Now, here’s why this is so beneficial: imagine for a moment that you capture a person’s gender and age in your database. Imagine if you wanted to promote an offer like for example a low T offer, a low testosterone offer if you happen to be in a health market. Well that’s an offer that if you sent it out to your entire list, a good portion of your list, your email list, is not going to be interested in that.
But if you are able to just identify men who are in their 40s and 50s and only send it to them, well all of a sudden that can be a very profitable thing to do. In the same way that you might send a menopause offer to women in their 50s, that you would not want to send in your entire list. And that’s just one example but hopefully kind of gets you thinking, well, there’s value in capturing this deeper information about your prospect beyond just name and email. And this technology that I described is one way that enables you to do it.
James: Yup. So I’ve got a feel for this. Just a macro overview, we’re going to be pushing people through some questions to end up with them in different segments. Now you’ve got your own names with this, I think you call them buckets.
I had a good read of the “Ask” manuscript that you sent me, which is fantastic. Really outlined it well, very practical, there are a couple of key steps; and I think it would be great to cover those key steps so that we know what’s happening from that traffic when it arrives at your site.
Now I’ve got an idea that there are tools available to do this and as you mentioned, tools like mine that I’m using, which is Ontraport, allows me to very heavily segment and custom sequence people based on where they come in to my site, what they click on, how many times they’re back; all these things can trigger specific sequences and action steps.
But do you want to talk about the methodology and what the actual steps are that you mentioned in your book So that they can just get the big chunky view of the main steps?
Methodology and action steps
Ryan: Yeah. So the first thing that you want to do is you have to decide where the value exists in segmentation. So in other words, there is an 80/20 sort of balance. Now, on the extreme end, you might say, well my market is made up of thousands of people, so maybe there are 100 different segments that I might speak to. So I might 100 different versions of my sales letter.
Now theoretically, that’s probably true. But practically, that’s a terrible idea because you’ll never get your project off the ground. At the same time and the other extreme, one version for everybody is probably not the right answer. So the question is, how many buckets should you put people into? What’s the right amount and how do you figure out what those buckets are? So starting with that question in mind, let’s go through the major steps.
So the first step that you go through is something that I describe as the deep dive survey. Now my deep dive survey is a survey that you do once to your existing audience, whether that’s a list of email subscribers or traffic already coming to your website and you send them an open-ended survey, open-ended questions, where you ask them, “What’s the single biggest challenge that you’re having about XYZ problem?”
From there, you go through an analysis process, which I outlined in step-by-step detail in the book for example, where you identify from those open-ended responses, what buckets naturally emerge? What themes are bubbling up in your market? Once you identify what those themes are, you focus on the 3 to 5 biggest themes. Then from there, you build a landing page. The landing page sells people on the idea of taking the survey and why it’s good for them.
Then the second survey that you send out, which is a permanent part of your sales process, is something I call the micro-commitment bucket survey. This is the survey that we talked about earlier where you’re asking people one question at a time, designed to send people to one of those 3 to 5 sales message variations. So this could be 3 to 5 different products that you might be recommending, or it can be a single product that you’re positioning 3 to 5 different ways.
So for example, if you sell a health supplement, maybe that health supplement could be presented, same product, could be presented as a weight loss option, it could be presented as a muscle building option, and it could be presented as a wellness option for seniors who are just looking to maintain their overall wellness. One product sold 3 different ways.
The other option is maybe you have 3 different products and you’re trying to figure out which one is right for your prospect. Maybe you have a weight loss supplement, a protein powder, and a fish oil. Well, you might want to ask a series of questions to decide which product should you recommend.
So after you’ve done that, you send people to what I call your same visit sales letter. This is typically a video but it could also be a long form written sales letter, which is customized based on which of the 3 to 5 buckets someone falls into. After you build your same visit sales letter, you build what I describe as your profit maximization sequence. This is a series of one click upsells, where you ask people to buy more things after that initial purchase.
Once you’ve completed that, the last step is to build what I describe as your email feedback loop. The email feedback loop is 2 different email sequences. One for people who purchase your product right away, and a second sequence for people who don’t purchase right away, where you use email to try to get them to buy. That in a nutshell is the overall process and it ends with one last survey, which I describe as the pivot survey.
The pivot survey is essentially, OK, we talked about this one product, you either bought it or you didn’t buy it; what should we talk about next? Would you like to talk about a, b, or c? And that’s an email that goes out typically with 3 links, and then depending on what link someone clicks, that dictates where you go next and then the whole process starts all over again.
And the beautiful thing about this is if you do this right, you can string together these funnels one right after another. In fact, in some markets, we have 6 or 7 of these that are strung together one right after another, and it creates this “choose your own adventure experience” where people enter into your world and they get to raise their hand and essentially say, “James, I want you to sell me this next.” And they don’t explicitly say that but they do that with their actions. And so it takes all the guesswork out of what should I sell next, does someone want this? You’re letting that user feedback dictate where you go next.
James: Sounds good. So let me see if I got this right. With our existing email list, we’re going to do a deep dive open-ended question probing for the biggest challenge that they have. We’re going to analyze that, try and split it into 3 to 5 buckets, then we’re going to have micro-commitment questions for our sales funnel so that we can filter people into those buckets.
And from there, they’re going to have the same visit sales letter that’s targeted to that bucket, and then we’ll have our profit maximization sequence, which will offer relevant next sale-type things for that specific same visit sales letter flow, and then we’ll have our email feedback loop for people who bought or didn’t buy, getting them back into the sequence.
And then when all that’s done, we’ll ask them what they’d like to buy next for their pivot survey, which should be like 3 pre-determined choices and we move them on. That all sounds pretty straightforward.
Ryan: Exactly. [laughs]
James: [laughs] I’m joking now. I know this could be overwhelming for a first-time listener or if you just stumbled across this concept, it sounds pretty tricky. What type of business do you find is coming to you saying, “Ryan, here’s where we’re at. Can you help us?” What is the typical activation points in an entrepreneur’s business timeline for this to be relevant?
Businesses that can benefit from survey funnel
Ryan: Yeah. Now that’s a great question. So typically, we work in a couple of different ways. So our business is a split between training that teaches people in deep detail how to execute this process in their business, starting with the book, and we have a series of training courses. And then we also have an agency side of our business as well, where we both coach and do these funnels for people. So we actually create these funnels for other businesses and because this is what we do all day every day, we have a lot of expertise in this very narrow scope.
Now, businesses who come to us on the training side tend to be earlier in their business, they tend to have some established sales, but they might not be at the 7-figure level yet. Businesses who reach out to us and ask us to build one of these funnels for them typically are established businesses or generally at least half a million dollars in annual revenue, and we have businesses in 9-figures that do over $100 million in revenue who work with us. So it’s a pretty wide range.
As far as if you’re asking yourself, “Is this right for me?” there are 2 types of businesses who this is for. The first type of business is you might sell one product or one flagship product but you have multiple avatars or multiple groups of people in your market that you might sell to.
So for example, if you sell a weight loss product and you have both men and women who are trying to buy it, or you have women who just had a baby and women who are perhaps later in life and their kids are now in college, out of the house, they’re empty nesters so they finally have some time for themselves to devote to their body. Both are women but both represent very different avatars. You might want to speak to those 2 different avatars differently. That would be a case where a survey funnel would be a good option for you.
The second type of business that comes to us are businesses who have multiple products, customers come to them and are not quite sure where they should start. So you have multiple things that you sell, someone enters into your world and says, “What’s the best one for me?” “Which option should I start with?” A survey funnel is a great option in that case because you can have a consultative, guided marketing process that leads people down the right path. So that way, they don’t come to your site, experience confusion, and leave confused not sure what they should do next.
So if your business falls in one of those 2 categories, a survey funnel is a good option to consider for your business.
James: Fantastic. OK, so that makes sense. Now, I think we should just close out by coming out with some action steps. And I want you to think of this avatar; I want you to think of someone who will be listening to this, who is probably in the early 6-figure region stretching up to 7-figure, like early 7-figure, that is a typical listenership for this podcast. Somewhere between $100,000 and $ million or $2 million a year is our sweet spot. What would be the first action step as of right now listening to this podcast?
Action steps to take
Ryan: The first thing that I would recommend someone do is get a copy of our book, it’s a very inexpensive way to go one level deeper and understand this process. So the title of the book is “Ask,” and we went through the big long subtitle, that will walk you through the process in a little bit more detail. Now, I would be remiss not end that book with a pivot survey within the book itself.
After you’ve read that book, you’ve got a couple options. If you walk away reading the book and feel like you have a good handle on how to implement this, the next step after that would be to sign up for our survey funnel software technology, which will enable you to do this and which will also grant you access to our community of other businesses who are implementing this funnel in their business so you can see how other people are using this successfully. That’s one option after you read the book.
The second option would be if you read the book and you get the process and you’re in the category where maybe you have more money than time, meaning that you would rather just hire the experts to do this, then I would recommend that you go down that path and you can reach out to me directly and we can put some ways to do that in the podcast itself. And we will direct you to the best sort of done-for-you option based on your particular situation.
So really the first step is go through the book, understand the process in a little bit more detail. That will help you better understand if this is a good fit for what you’re looking to achieve. And then from there, you’ve got the do-it-yourself version where you can get access to the technology and the community of people who are implementing this successfully or you can work with my team and I to implement this and just do the whole thing for you. That’s what I’d recommend as far as next step is to go from here.
Profitable and rewarding
James: Perfect. All right. Now what I’d ask is that you make a comment on this post. If you’ve got a question for Ryan, by all means, ask away just below this podcast. I’ll ask Ryan to come and have a look at the questions. I know he likes questions and answers. And I’m sure we’ll be able to solve your challenges.
So Ryan, I just want to thank you for coming along to the show. We’ve really opened up a big topic here. I know this is going to cause some action because I would say it’s a fair bet that if you were to go to a hundred websites, you wouldn’t find more than one, if that on average, doing any kind of surveys or funnel questioning to the level that you’ve talked about.
So it is a big concept. It’s a very profitable and rewarding concept. You are the force in the market for this, you’re certainly known for it. I’ve been enjoying working with you behind the scenes in SilverCircle because it gets me a great window into what’s going on and I can see the results you’re getting for everyone else and it’s fantastic to observe that first hand. So thank you for coming along to the show.
Ryan: Thank you so much James for having me. This was awesome. I look forward to answering as many questions as I can.
James: Yup. And I do recommend the book “Ask”. I’ve read an extract, or a very early version of it, and it was easy to understand and read. It’s very well-written, especially the part that explains the concept we’ve talked about today. So I would spend the time in reading through that book because it’s a good starting point. Thanks Ryan!
Ryan: Thank you James!
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