Your New Student “Funnel” and How it Works

Non-students who find their way into your lesson book travel down a funnel—learn how it works and you’ll build your business faster.

The student whose name first appeared in your lesson scheduler this morning likely entered your “sales funnel” weeks or months ago. That’s the nature of finding potential customers and adding them to your active roster.

Not all who enter the funnel will make it into the lesson book, but some and perhaps many of them will. Lately, an intro evaluation often referred to as a “New Student Assessment” is recommended as the turning point that marks a completed passage through the funnel and into active lesson-taking. Some of those newbies turn out to be your best students—committed golfers who keep showing up, practice dutifully and truly improve.

You want to understand what your funnel looks like, how it functions and how prospects travel through it to become active clients. Here are a half-dozen basics to ponder:

  1. The funnel is double-edged—it’s a happy place but also a place of pain. Anyone who’s even vaguely thinking about booking that first lesson naturally has positive feelings about you. They’ve heard good things, they’ve stopped by to chat, they’ve been impressed by your website, all good indicators. The pain part of the equation involves golf skill levels they’ve never reached and can’t seem to acquire just through ball-hitting and YouTube tips. Think of your funnel as the place where negatives meet a positive—your presence on the range and your ability to guide them toward real progress. Getting them started involves getting them to really acknowledge their frustration and to talk seriously about goals.
  2. Among all the prospects in your funnel, some you’ll be familiar with and some you won’t. Because of websites, social media and old-fashioned word of mouth, there are going to be customers in the consideration phase whom you’ve never met or even heard of. Events like get-acquainted clinics, demo days, bring-a-friend, and the like are ways to get people off the fence and into a New Student Assessment.
  3. Funnels in a kitchen cabinet are all shaped the same but sales funnels can take a variety of shapes. At a public driving range the entry point would likely be wider than at a member-only club. Then there’s the question of how long it is from entry to the place where the relationship begins—at the range it’s probably longer than at the club.
  4. Some people can be told they’re in the funnel, working their way toward taking lessons. These are people with outgoing personalities who enjoy a running conversation that’s half-joking, half-serious. When you tell them, perhaps month after month, that “we’re starting next week, just need to pick a time,” they enjoy the back-and-forth. They still need to be “closed,” however, using the same honest conversation about problems and solutions that golfers typically all need.
  5. The “referral” section of your funnel deserves some special focus. All peer-to-peer recommendations have extra punch to them, particularly so if the golfer who is touting you has noticeably improved or the friend they’re talking to is legitimately interested in improvement through instruction—or both. People who enter the funnel via a direct peer endorsement are more likely to make it all the way through to your lesson book.
  6. When something good happens—you win your chapter’s teaching award, a student of yours finishes top-10 in the city amateur, you start getting booked as a regular guest on a local radio program—think long and hard about what kind of funnel-filler it could be. In the latter case, have the radio station announce that the 15th person to call the listener line gets a free lesson with you. Meanwhile everyone who calls reaches a recording that asks them to leave their name and email address, so you end up with at least 14 new people in your funnel. If three or four of them come for an NSA, it was more than worth the time you donated to the one winner.