What is a Sales Funnel? A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

If you’re new to the sales process, you’d want to look for the best way to attract potential customers.

Building sales funnels is one of the best marketing and sales efforts you could try.

Here, you’ll learn the answers to the common questions, such as what is a sales funnel and how to optimize it for more sales.

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First Up: What is a Sales Funnel?

Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketer defines a sales funnel as “something that converts prospective customers into actual paying customers.”

In other words, it pertains to the customer journey that leads to an eventual purchase.

It’s a multi-step sales process because you need to put in a lot of effort before you can draw clients into your sales funnel.

Why is a Sales Funnel Important for Your Business?

A sales funnel helps you determine what your future customer thinks and does at every stage of the buying process.

By gaining these insights, you can create content to attract your target audience.

4 Sales Funnel Stages

Like other sales reps, you need to master the different stages your website visitors go through:

Stage 1: Awareness Stage

The first stage is known as awareness. It’s where qualified prospects first learn about your company.

You could create brand awareness through a referral, landing page, blog post, Facebook ad, and the like.

Some clients in the awareness stage may quickly move in for the kill—granted that they have done their research before. That said, many will linger in this stage.

Whether or not clients move past this step will depend on your marketing strategy.

Stage 2: Interest Stage

An interested potential customer will focus on their problem and the possible solutions. They will conduct research about you and your competitors to see if your product is indeed the answer to their concerns.

Just like wooing your crush, it wouldn’t help to push your product or service right away. You want to ease everything in by helping the client make an informed decision.

Stage 3: Decision Stage

Once your target customer knows exactly what they need to know, they will have two or three options at hand. They will proceed to evaluate your prices, packages, and other factors.

If your clients are in this funnel stage, you should focus on making sales pages and calls or hosting webinars.

It’s also good to offer free shipping, discounts, or freebies with every purchase. Your clients will find it too irresistible to pass up.

Stage 4: Action Stage

Even if your target customers reach the bottom of the funnel, you still aren’t sure if they’re going to buy or not.

In case they do, it’s your responsibility to ensure they make future purchases. You can retain these clients by thanking them, asking for feedback, or providing the necessary support.

If your prospects drop the purchase, it’s not yet the end for you! You can create nurture campaigns to keep them within your sales funnel. 

Sales Funnel, Marketing, Plan, Funnel

How to Create a Sales Funnel

Given the many benefits of a marketing funnel, creating one is a must for every sales team.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Analyze the Buyer Personas

A sales funnel works well—granted, you know your audience.

Whether you’re a rep or a business owner, you need to have a clear idea of your target market.

You can’t just sell to everybody—that’s impossible. You’ll end up diluting your message. If you’re selling feminine hygiene products, you can’t market them to men, right?

If you want to create a solid marketing concept, you need to work on buyer personas. They are profiles that describe your ideal clients, their pain points, and their way of making purchases.

Step 2: Draw Your Clients to Your Sales Funnel

You can’t bring clients to the awareness stage of the sales funnel if you don’t appear in their Google Search.

That said, you need to publicize your company’s sales model through solid content marketing efforts.  

The possibilities here are endless. And with the help of apps, you can make posts, infographics, and videos more efficiently.

Another option is to run paid ads. It’s a matter of placing them on sites where your prospects hang out.

That’s why it’s crucial to study your buyer persona in the first place. It’ll provide insights about places where you’ll find your clientele.

Step 3: Create a Landing Page

When your clients download an eBook, sign up for a webinar, or click on ads, what they’ll see first is your landing page.

As such, you need to make one that focuses on the benefits your prospect will get so they’ll be attracted to sign up or make a purchase.

When making a landing page, make sure to provide areas where customers can encode their information. You’ll want to get their email addresses, as you can use this to drive sales conversations in the future.

Step 4: Offer a Valuable Perk

Capturing leads is easier when you provide something of value.

Your clients won’t give their email addresses without anything in exchange, after all.

If you want to attract plenty of prospects, you need to offer a lead magnet. Good examples include whitepapers, ebooks, templates, checklists, webinars, etc.

Step 5: Nurture Your Qualified Leads

By this time, your ‘aware’ marketing leads should be moving to the interest stage.

And now that you have their email addresses, you need to do your best to nurture them. 

One good example is to launch an email nurture series, which can help you educate your target audience regarding your products and services.

Step 6: Make an Upsell

If your sales team manages to nurture clients well, they should be headed to the decision stage.

Of course, you’d want them to go straight through the purchasing process as well. That’s why you need to push them further with an upsell.

You can make an upsell by offering a discount, extending the free trial, or offering a free demo.

Step 7: Keep on Trucking

Just because you’ve funneled your clients through the sales pipeline doesn’t mean you should stop.

It would be best to keep the communication going, whether it’s with new or existing customers. The only difference is the way you follow up with them.

For new clients, it’s all about education and engagement. You’d also want to work on improving the customer retention rate.

As for those who didn’t make a purchase, it’s about going back to the nurturing stage. It will help to check up on them every few months.

You can easily make a sales funnel using tools like KLEQ.com.

What Causes ‘Leaks’ in Your Sales Funnels?

If you’re a new sales rep, knowing all the sales funnel stages isn’t enough. It can help you further if you familiarize yourself with the cracks in the funnel and the losses that may come with it.

Such leaks usually happen because of three things:

You Dismiss Bad Leads Early On

Even if a client said no to your marketing team, it doesn’t necessarily mean a NO forever. While they acknowledge the value of your product, they may not be convinced to make a purchase just yet.

The problem is some sales teams ditch these leads and move on to the next.

Remember: Patience is a virtue. Some may refuse to buy, for they’re still in the early sales funnel stages.

As such, it’s your responsibility to design marketing activities to lead them to the bottom of the funnel.

You Don’t Follow Up as Much as You Should

Follow-ups are essential for unparalleled business growth. Just look at these statistics from Sales Cycle:

  • 80% of clients need to be followed up at least five times
  • 46% of leads require 3-5 touchpoints before they become prospects
  • Even so, the typical salesperson gives up after one follow up call

If you want to work on your follow-up skills, check your last 20 leads. How often were they nudged before they made a purchase? 

You can make use of these numbers as a basis for how much you should follow up.

You’re Slow to Follow Up

Time is of the essence. Remember, leads are 9x more likely to convert if you follow up within five minutes.

Should you delay your follow-up by a mere 30 minutes, you’re 21 times less likely to make a sale.

How to Optimize Your Sales Funnel

Now that you know the leaks, it’s time to seal them! 

Here are some tips to help you optimize your sales funnel:

Run as Many Ads as You Can

If you want your sales funnel to be more effective, you need to run as many campaigns as possible.

Why, you ask?

For example: based on your buyer persona research, you may be catering to about five types of clients. A single kind of ad won’t cut it. You need to run at least five, each designed to target every type of persona.

A good option is Facebook ads, which allow you to tailor your campaign to a specific demographic group.

A good thing about these ads is they’re relatively cheap. They cost as low as $5 a day, so you don’t have to worry about running out of funds for your other marketing efforts.

A/B Test Your Landing Page

Even though your page is pleasing to the eye, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll attract clients to your sales funnel.

That’s why you need to create a few variations and A/B test them.

A/B testing helps you see which page gets more clicks and conversions. You’ll also see which has a lower bounce rate.

You can refine your page and draw more clients to the sales funnel when you know such details.

Split Test Your Email Campaigns

Just like A/B testing your landing pages, you need to check your email campaigns as well. 

It will allow you to alter layouts, images, language, and offers to see which works best.

Pay Attention to Every Stage of the Funnel

If your sales funnel isn’t attracting as many customers as it should, you should evaluate every stage.

As always, start from the top.

Look at your ads, blog posts, and other content that’s designed to make your target aware. What works? What doesn’t? Don’t be afraid to run various campaigns to see which attracts more people.

Next, check your landing page. Does it reflect the offer you’ve made in your ads or blog entry? As mentioned above, test to see which CTA or offer draws more customers to the sales funnel.

Evaluate your offer as well. Do free shipping coupons bring more clients to the action stage? Or do discount codes fare better?

Lastly, study your customer retention rate. Do they refer your products to family or friends? Or do they make repeated purchases? What could you do to bring them back for more?

Use an Automated Follow-up Campaign

As mentioned, you shouldn’t shun clients who said ‘no’ right away. It would be best if you weren’t slow to follow up, either.

Instead, you can send gentle reminders promptly with the help of an automated campaign.

When following up, make sure to send information that’s tailored to the recipient. For example, you can send educational materials helping address their questions, doubts, etc.

While this strategy entails a lot of work, it makes for a more effective sales funnel.

The Sales Funnel in a Nutshell

A sales funnel is one marketing strategy that transforms prospective clients into full-fledged buyers. These prospects enter four sales funnel stages: awareness, interest, decision, and action.

As a salesperson, you need to guide them through every phase effectively. That way, they’ll reach the pinnacle—the action stage, where they buy your product or service. Creating a sales funnel is straightforward, especially if you use tools like KLEQ.com.

It’s all about analyzing your audience and drawing them in. You also have to create a landing page and offer a valuable perk. By nurturing your leads and making an upsell, you bring your clients further down the sales funnel.

As a sales rep, you need to follow up quickly and repeatedly as required. You should avoid dismissing bad leads right away.

More importantly, it would help if you optimized your sales funnel. You can do so by running many ads and split testing your pages.

Evaluating every stage of your funnel and automated campaigns will make a big difference as well.