From Sales Funnel to Gentle Sales Path

From Sales Funnel to Gentle Sales Path

This episode is part of a 12 days of Christmas read-along of the Selling Like We’re Human book, recorded in 2021.

The book follows a similar concept to what you’re already used to here on the Humane Marketing show with the 7Ps of Humane Marketing and the Marketing Like We’re Human book: we start with the being and then go into the doing.

The 3 parts of the Selling Like We’re Human book are : Being, Knowing and Doing (compared to Rumble, Rise and Resonate of the Marketing Like We’re Human book)

Manage Your Sales Energy

Today I’m reading a small section of Part 3 on DOING, Chapter 8 called ‘From Sales Funnel to Gentle Sales Path’

"What if we change the term “funnel” to “path” and think of it as a get-toknow-you path?" -Sarah Santacroce @sarahsantacroce #humanemarketing #sellinglikewerehuman Share on X

Excerpt from Selling Like We’re Human, Part 3: DOING, Chapter 8: From Sales Funnel to Gentle Sales Path

The Sales Funnel Revisited
We all know the spiel by now. I give you my e-mail in exchange for something I
want and need. It could be a checklist, it could be a one-page marketing plan, it
could be a video series . . . Once I enter my name and e-mail, I’m smart enough
to know that you’ll send me more than just that thing you promised me for free.
Nothing is free. Instead, I’m being lured into your funnel.
The more sophisticated the funnel, the bigger the chance I will end up buying
something—or eventually, the whole store. Because, quite frankly, some of
these funnels have an addictive quality embedded. And there are plenty of
gurus who will teach you the “art of the funnel.”
To be clear, getting someone’s e-mail is a good marketing strategy. The old
saying “the money is in the list” is a valid statement if, and only if, you preface
it with “the relationships get developed through the list.”
So getting your ideal clients’ e-mails so that you can communicate with them
is key.
What I’d like us to revisit is the sales funnel. You know, the typical thing:
Step 1: Start with a freebie and get their e-mail address.
Step 2: Send them a few valuable e-mails.
Step 3: Get them to buy an offer under $50.
Step 4: Upsell them to your higher offer.
What if we change the term “funnel” to “path” and think of it as a get-toknow-
you path?

I used the above image previously in the Marketing Like We’re Human book,
but I’d like to expand on this idea here, given that this is a book about selling.
There are a few major differences between the funnel and the path.
Our intention: Whereas in the funnel our main goal is to get that first sale
from everyone, our objective in the path is to introduce our new visitor to our
world. We can do that by sharing our story, our values, our worldview, and
why we do the thing we do. Of course we still want our visitor to buy from
us, but we have no specific agenda on how or when that happens.
The client’s experience: When we lived in California from 2006 till 2010,
I had the “pleasure” of attending a gazillion birthday parties as our boys
were at the prime age for those events. The first few times, I was shocked
at the proceedings of these get-togethers. I truly felt like a sheep in a

“Deposit your gifts on that table please. Then take off your shoes and proceed
to the trampoline area (or whatever the activity of the day was). Have fun!”
After some jumping, a few minor injuries, and a melt down or two, it was
pizza time.
“Go wash your hands. Here’s your pizza slice and a few carrot sticks. Okay,
everyone had enough? Let’s do the cake!!” After the happy birthday song, it
was already time to say goodbye as the next group was waiting at the door!
“Thanks for coming, everyone! Trevor had a great time!”
Poor Trevor didn’t even get to open his gifts. No time for that . . .
I’m exaggerating, of course, but that’s how I sometimes feel when I’m being
rushed through one of these funnels. “Hurry please, I don’t have all day. Buy
something and make room for the next person.”
Instead of rushing our clients and pushing all of them through the same
funnel, we want to invest in them, empower them to make their own choices,
and give them options and different paths they can take in our world.
I consider myself a smart and conscious human being (street smart, that is ;-
)). And I want to work with people who are equally smart and conscious. I
want them to understand that’s how I think of them. I want them to feel that
I truly care and that they can trust me.
The length: Building that trust takes time. And if we’re rushing someone, we
can immediately lose their trust. They see right through it and walk away. If
we think of it as a path instead of a funnel, we adapt a more long-term
perspective which allows us to build value, trust, and ultimately a relationship
with our visitor.
The language: By changing the term “funnel” to “path,” we’re setting the
example that words matter; language matters.
Brené Brown talked about the impact of dehumanizing language in politics
on one of her podcast episodes (Brené on Words, Actions, Dehumanization
and Accountability).
“Dehumanization is the most significant driver of insurrection and it always starts
with language. We are all responsible for recognizing it, stopping it, and holding
people accountable for dehumanizing language and actions.”
Shaming and lack of empathy are at the center of dehumanization. Sure, it’s
quite extreme to compare dehumanization on a political level with marketing
and selling, but hear me out.
When we use techniques and language that lack integrity and empathy and
instead focus on shaming and making people feel less than, aren’t we
dehumanizing our clients? Aren’t we treating them as numbers, or as sheep
that we want to push through a funnel?
In our gentle sales paths, we use language that shows that we understand, that
we care, and that we’re here to help whenever they are ready.
Income Follows Impact
My friend Adam Kawalec, a Swedish business mindset coach, came up with
this great concept he calls “moving the pay line.” He makes the point that
when people first enter your sales path, they aren’t really sure what value you
can provide. So it’s really up to you to highlight your value through impact.
Because, as Adam says (and I agree with him), income follows impact.
“Seth Godin says that ‘marketing is the tax you pay for not being
remarkable.’ If you want to be remarkable, you need to make an
impact, a difference big enough that people are willing to either pay
for it or talk about it. So the way I see it, income follows impact.
In business, it doesn’t always look like that though. I sometimes see
entrepreneurs holding back until they get paid. This makes it hard for
a prospect to know if they want or should work with you—because
they have not yet seen or experienced what it is that you really do for
your clients. I am suggesting that you ‘move the pay line.’
Picture yourself at the beach. Pick up the stick that’s lying next to
your feet. Now draw a vertical line in the sand. That line represents
the moment you get paid. On the left of that line is the before and
on the right of the line is the after they pay you.
We spend hours thinking about and listing all the things we do and
what happens once our clients pay us and we start working
together. All the extra features, benefits, and amazing results they
will either have, do, or be as a result of working together.
I am inviting you to move some of the things from the ‘after they
pay me’ side over to the ‘before they pay me’ side so that you can
make an impact before they pay you, giving them an experience of
what you do rather than explaining the concept of what you do.”
Can you see how this creates impact and influences the ‘know, like,
and trust’ factor right away?
In my experience, following my ‘income follows impact’ motto, I
spend less time (if any) trying to ‘convince’ someone to work with
me, and it has allowed me to become remarkable, talked about, and
referred to.”

The Path that Leads to the Serene Garden
Let’s go back to our garden analogy and imagine that our product sale or sales
conversation is a lovely, Serene Garden somewhere at the end of these paths.
Sreela shared this in the Gentle Sales Lab:
“The journey [to the Serene Garden] will look different for each
client, because someone will climb some stone steps and take a birdseye
view before coming down to it, others will go straight ahead along
a tarmac road, preferring the short route, and another still will take a
paved path, leading down to another section of the gardens, from
which your particular secluded garden may be in clearer view for him
to decide. Maybe the latter person only makes decisions once they
have seen the wider context in which the offer sits.”
And while the paths may look different for each client, the destination is the
same: your Serene Garden.
And . . . even if the journey is different for everyone, every client will want to
take some rest, sit down, consider their options, and decide about where to
go next. That’s where the signposts come in—and the Marketing Rule of
Seven(ty). Another Cliffhanger…

This excerpt is from Part 3: DOING, Chapter 8: From Sales Funnel to Gentle Sales Path

If what you heard today resonates with you and made you curious about the book, I invite you to get your copy of the new Selling Like You’re Human book at You can also download the whole 1st chapter for free to see if it resonates.

And I’m also planting a seed about my ‘Marketing Like We’re Human’ program that I’ll run in its live edition starting at the end of January 2022. This is where we take all these concepts from the two books as well as the 7Ps of Humane Marketing to a much much deeper level in an intimate group learning experience. Find out more at

Get your copy of the ‘Selling Like We’re Human’ book !

Get the new Selling Like We’re Human book HERE!

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