Sales funnels are a core part of business. Whether you operate on or offline, you need to attract prospects and leads, and turn them into paying customers. The key to this is through a sales funnel.
Whether you’re brand new to sales funnel creation or you’re revamping a funnel that’s up and running, there are a few things to keep in mind.
What is a Sales Funnel?
Before we start talking about the sales funnel stages and how to build one, let’s get clear about what it is. Funnels are a core part of digital marketing; they outline the steps of your customer’s journey.
When you build a sales funnel for a product, you’re mapping out the customer journey that takes place from not knowing who you are to being a client or customer.
Each person goes through four stages—awareness, interest, decision and action—when making a purchase decision. So, we build a funnel that helps take them through that process in a way that (hopefully) ends with them making a purchase.
Does Your Business Need a Sales Funnel?
Every business needs a sales funnel.
Whether you’re a local retailer or an international online consulting business, a funnel is an instrumental part of selling your products and services.
We already know that prospects need to go through the different stages of awareness to make a purchase, so building a funnel is your way of helping them through that process.
In short, if you want consistent sales, you need a funnel.
The Sales Funnel Stages
The stages that you build out for your sales funnel vary depending on who you ask. Some build out 7-stage funnels while others condense that same process into 3 steps.
However, the most prominent depiction of this funnel is a 4-step process. So, that’s what we’ll use here. But we’re also going to add a bonus step at the end that you can take to help increase the profits you see from your funnel.
The steps are:
And the bonus step? Retention, loyalty and resale—because the best customers are the ones that you already have.
Stage 1: Awareness
The first stage of the sales funnel is awareness. This is where a prospective customer learns that you, your company or your product exists. They have a problem and now they’re aware that you have a solution.
This awareness can happen organically—like when someone comes across a pin of yours on Pinterest and clicks through to a blog post. But it can also happen via paid advertising like they’ve seen your ad on their Facebook feed.
Stage 2: Interest
When a prospect (someone who has already been through the awareness stage of the process) is actively looking for a solution to their problem and decides to take a look at a solution you offer, they’ve made it to the interest stage of the process.
The interest stage doesn’t mean they’re actively looking to purchase something from you yet but they’ve taken an additional step to evaluate you. Maybe they decided to follow you on social media or have signed up for your email list.
They’ve gone past the looking stage. This means that they’re no longer a prospect but a lead—there’s great potential here to make a sale.
Stage 3: Decision
After the interest stage comes the decision stage.
At this point in the sales funnel, your lead is ready to make a decision. They want a solution to their problem, and they’re actively considering you.
During the decision stage, they’re paying more attention to what you’re putting out. They will also take a step toward getting in touch with you —maybe they respond to your latest newsletter with a question or they book a free call or attend one of your webinars.
They’re almost ready to make a purchase, and it’s up to you to close the deal.
Stage 4: Action
The final stage of the traditional sales funnel is the action stage. Your lead is ready to finalize the deal.
During this stage, money exchanges hands and you end up with a brand new customer or client. Congratulations!
Bonus Stage 5: Loyalty
But just because you’ve made a sale doesn’t mean that you’re done selling. Your new customer or client has only made a single purchase. You have a lot more to offer them.
Retaining clients and building loyalty takes many forms, but often include things like emails, special offers and stellar customer service. Your goal is to sell again to customers you already have.
Sales Funnel Example
Every business out there from your local grocery store to online giants like Netflix have sales funnels. They all look different on the outside, but the inside process is the same.
Let’s say you’re a marketing consultant and you have just created your new course Marketing 101: The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Online Business, and you’re ready to make a sales funnel. It might look something like this:
- Awareness: An instagram video about a free (related) product
- Interest: A product landing page with an email sign up
- Decision: The free product delivered and a drip campaign
- Action: Can’t-pass-up deal on your course
How to Build a Sales Funnel
Sales funnel building sounds way more complex than you think. Chances are you’re already doing the steps; you just don’t have them set up as a funnel yet.
When it comes to sales funnel creation, keep in mind that every piece of content that you create, whether it be a blog article or a social media post, is technically part of your funnel. So, you definitely have the beginnings of a great funnel.
Step 1. Analyze Behavior
The more you know about your audience, the more effective your sales funnel will be. You need to market specifically to those who fit what you sell and do it the way they expect it.
Zero in on who your audience is and what they are looking for. Create something that solves a problem and work backwards to build a ladder that will get them there.
Step 2. Create Attention-Grabbing Content
The effort you put into your sales funnel will be wasted if no one’s attracted to it. So create content that looks awesome, is on brand, and solves problems.
Focus on content for organic growth to start with. And make it evergreen so you can reshare it in your regular content schedule. Then, if you have the money, put a little bit toward ads.
Great content you’ll want to focus on are things like infographics, social posts, blog material and even a great lead magnet to get people to sign up to your list.
Step 3. Build a Landing Page
Your awareness content needs to send people somewhere. That somewhere is most often a great lead page.
Make sure your lead page has a bold call-to-action. You can also include persuasive material like past results, testimonials or sample work. And, make sure you collect emails!
Step 4. Design a Drip Campaign
You want to be in regular contact with prospects and leads, but you don’t want to be annoying. So you’ll want to design an email drip campaign that delivers persuasive content in a comfortable timeframe.
Use education to build up your audience. Share free information and actionable content that they can put to good use. Then end your drip campaign with a can’t-miss offer.
Step 5. Instill Loyalty
Your job isn’t done when you’ve made a sale. The name of the growth game is turning one-time customers into repeat ones.
You can do this by building a post-purchase drip campaign that gives them access to exclusive things like coupons or discounts, first-access to new products and other goodies to keep them coming back.
Important: You don’t need to glue several pieces of tech to build your sales funnel. I love using Kartra’s all-in-one business platform for my sales funnels: landing pages, email service provider, memberships, and more!
I’ve gotten rid of so many subscriptions just by moving everything over to Kartra. Make sure to check out the dollar trial to see if it’s a good fit for your business. No more tech headaches is worth it!
Evaluating Your Sales Funnel
Creating a sales funnel is one thing, but you don’t want to stop at simply creating it—you want to make sure it’s working. That means regularly stopping to evaluate and analyze your results.
So how can you tell if your sales funnel is successful or if you need to make a few changes? The biggest tell is going to be your conversion rates.
Conversion rates are how many people take action versus how many people see your piece of content. For example, if you’re running a Facebook ad, a conversion rate to look at is how many people sign up for your email list after clicking through the ad.
If you’re a Facebook ads newbie and need some handholding to run your first campaign, I highly recommend this course. The instructor teaches it in real time so the info is never outdated and there’s lots of handholding — because Facebook ads are tricky.
Don’t forget to ask yourself these questions when evaluating your sales funnel:
- Are you making any sales?
- Are your existing customers coming back and making additional purchases?
- Is there something that you want to be seeing that you’re not?
What happens if your funnel isn’t working?
Not every funnel makes a killing in sales right after launch. Some will need to be reworked a bit for improvement.
We typically use 2% to 3% as a good conversion rate across all industries. But niche settings and specific industries (paired with a stellar sales funnel) can sometimes make a bigger splash.
If you find that your funnel isn’t converting how you want it to, it’s probably time to take a peek and see what can be tweaked. Maybe you need a new lead page, maybe your sales copy isn’t clear or maybe it’s something else entirely.
But keep changing and testing until you find something that works for you!